Netanyahu lauds 'day of good news' as Israelis receive benefits

‘I wish I was in a position where I could say I’ll give the money to charity,’ an unemployed tour-guide told ‘Post,’ ‘but my wife and I can’t do that’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on July 15, 2020 (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on July 15, 2020
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
The National Insurance Institute wired NIS 1.45 billion to parents on Sunday, the NII reported. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the effort, saying that “today is a day of good news.” Netanyahu added that 40,000 businesses also got benefits as part of the Safety Nets program and that three million children were helped.
“We promised and we delivered,” he said, “there will be more [aid] programs.” 
Finance Minister Israel Katz said that “we promised that this time, it will be done quickly” adding that all those eligible will “get unemployment benefits for a year. Not a single person will be denied the money he deserves,” he said.  
The transfer marks the first step of the “Check for Every Citizen” plan, with further benefits meant for elderly people in need and others to be wired on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Each citizen, unless he or she earns more than NIS 651,000 a year, receives NIS 750. For each child a grant of NIS 500 is added until and including a fourth child. From the fourth child onwards a NIS 300 grant is wired, with no limitations on the number of children. Those whom the NII considers to be disabled receive a further NIS 750.     
Ari Roth, who works in online marketing and moved to Israel from the US nine years ago with his wife, told The Jerusalem Post he got the money this morning and already gave it to charity. 
“I think it’s a shame they give the money to people who don’t need it,” Roth said.
Not only did he deliver the NIS 1000 he got for his two children to a single mother who is currently unemployed, he also asked around if any of his friends would be interested to donate as well.
Noting that the sum he gave is but “a drop in the bucket” he pointed to how the NII benefits are also far from covering the real needs of the unemployed.
“They need to increase unemployment benefits or extend them,” he said, “why give money to those who already have it?”
He told the Post that while many of the people who ask to join him are critical of Netanyahu, he voted for the prime minister twice and thinks he did a lot of good for the country. "Unfortunately, he seems to have lost his touch," he said.
“I WISH I was in a position where I could say I’ll give the money to charity,” an unemployed tour-guide called S. told the Post, “but my wife and I can’t do that.” 
He said that he has been luckier than most people in his tourism-related field and is getting both unemployment benefits matching 60% of his previous pay and support for his business, which is now a total loss. 
According to him, the real issue is not knowing whether his profession will ever return. 
He said he often thinks about taking on any job, including gardening, just to have a few hours of daily work to take his mind off things.
“The thing is that if I go to a vocational training program nobody will take a chance on me unless I am totally committed to the new job,” he says. “Why else would they hire me? To watch me walk out the moment I can return to tourism?” 
At 35 years of age and with two children, S. says he's lucky his wife is able to work as a teacher during the COVID-19 pandemic. He didn't get the NIS 1,000 for his children yet, but confesses to feeling confused because "every week they announce a new benefit plan."
While saying he is "a pessimist" and doesn't think tourism will return to how it was before COVID-19 until next summer, he admits that he is unable to think of letting it go. "I take long hikes just to get my mind off this whole mess," he says.
Yoel (not his real name) also plans to give the money he'll get for his two children to charity. Unlike Roth, he has much to say about Netanyahu.
"This whole thing is a disgrace," he told the Post, "Netanyahu wants to hand out money to people because he isn't popular at the moment, so he pours shekels away. To my mind, it’s very obvious."
When asked about Netanyahu's statement that the “Check for Every Citizen” plan is meant to "get the wheels of economy moving again," Yoel points out that people who have money don't spend it unless they already intended to do so.
"After all," he said, "Netanyahu has several million, and he isn't eager to spend even a shekel."