NII head: Israel must lower high poverty rate

Mor-Yosef highlighted the low employment rate among haredi men and Arab women.

Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef 311 (photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef 311
(photo credit: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich)
Israel must set a clear social security policy to narrow, within the decade, the worrying gap between its high poverty rate and OECD countries’ average rate of 12 percent of the population living below the poverty line, Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, CEO of the National Insurance Institute, said yesterday.
“We are producing a generation of poor people,” he said. “The State of Israel has imposed a penalty on haredim and told them: ‘You will just study and you can’t work,’ so they sit and study while we lose manpower.”
Mor-Yosef highlighted the low employment rate among haredi men and Arab women, and called for the government to assist those populations to enter the job market. Israel has the highest poverty level among OECD countries, and the gaps between rich and poor are among the highest of all developed nations, problems, he said, that must be addressed immediately.
Mor-Yosef also questioned the feasibility of a much-discussed initiative to cancel NII child and elderly allotments for the wealthy, explaining that it wouldn’t save any significant amount of money.
Gidi Kroch, executive director of the NGO Leket, a food bank that distributes would-be discarded food to Israelis in need, concurred, saying the government must prioritize the issue of poverty.
“Israel has had a lack of socioeconomic planning for many years,” Kroch told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“The latest protest movements and the change in the political map both clearly point to this.
“Israel will have no security without social security for its citizens,” he continued.
Kroch stressed that today, the country faces a window of opportunity to make a significant change in the social arena: “I hope politicians do not miss it because of other interests,” he told the Post.
“Collecting direct taxes is a problem in the country when there are entire communities who don’t work,” Kroch pointed out. “There is a need to find the right way of financing the activities of the government and most important, investing in the right places.
He added that while cutting allotments is a commonly proposed solution, he doesn’t believe that it is the correct step to take. The government must do “more long-term thinking and stop putting out fires,” Kroch said.