Likud Minister Moshe Kahlon 311.
(photo credit: Avi Hayun)
Minister of Welfare and Social Affairs Moshe Kahlon has failed in his role as
the person responsible for addressing the country’s deepening poverty, and has
not even attempted to address society’s widening socioeconomic gaps, claims a
report released Tuesday by the humanitarian aid organization
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“Minister Moshe Kahlon is the person responsible for reducing the
country’s poverty but he has not acted fast enough to launch a national program
that will deal with this problem,” wrote the non-profit organization in its
annual Alternative Poverty Report, which is based on data collected from more
than 100 food-aid charities countrywide and on in-depth interviews with
individuals and families living below the poverty line.
Latet, organizations working to distribute food to the country’s needy
populations saw an incredible rise in the number of requests to feed children in
2011, with an increase of some 225 percent in the number of parents expressing
concern that their children will be in need of assistance from charities in the
The organizations that work with Latet also overwhelming said
they felt the government is not doing enough to adequately tackle
“Despite witnessing the terrible hardships faced by those in
poverty, and despite seeing the situation deteriorate over the past few years,
we are still stuck with an anti-social justice government,” commented Latet’s
Director Eran Weintraub.
He added: “It is time for us to ask: Where is
Minister of Welfare and Social Affairs Moshe Kahlon? Where is the minister who
was so active in the Ministry of Communication and made so many changes?”
Weintraub pointed out that the welfare minister is the person responsible for
addressing and improving the welfare situation, but that it has been almost a
year since Kahlon took over the ministry and “he has not even attempted to
address this issue or create a national policy that will reduce
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The minister’s spokesman declined to comment on Latet’s
While Latet made clear its views regarding the minister’s alleged
inaction, the report also highlighted some of the hardships faced by those
living below the poverty line.
According to the report, one in every five
needy children often goes without real food for several days and some 59% of
children in need forgo one main meal every day.
The Alternative Poverty
Report also noted that 91% of needy children do not receive any kind of dental
care and just over half (51%) do not have full health insurance
In addition, nearly half (48%) cannot afford to take
after-school enrichment classes or private lessons, 71% cannot afford to
purchase appropriate books or school equipment and 75% do not join the annual
Other sectors of society face extreme hardships too, with the
report finding that only 7% of the elderly feel their pension is enough for them
to live with dignity.
Figures released last month by the National
Insurance Institute showed that the number of poor families actually fell by
20.5% in 2010, with 433,300 families, or 19.8% of the population, living below
the poverty line. The line is defined as half the median
Latet, however, objects to such statistics, pointing out that
while the numbers might be down the scope and scale of the problem is increasing
and addressing poverty needs a more humanistic approach.
the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s (OECD) last year,
pointed out Weintraub, Israel is the last country in the West to tackle poverty
or to properly address the unequal gaps between rich and poor.
social protests may be forgotten for the moment, but there is a human time bomb
of hardship that continues to tick away and threaten the future of Israeli
society. It is more alarming than the threat from Iran,” he said.
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