March 8, 2007
Poverty in Israel: The divide deepens between the haves and have-nots
(Page 3 - Previous Page)Ironically, though, the war highlighted the chasm in Israeli society between haves and have-nots. Those who could afford to leave the north did so. The poor, however, were left behind to fend for themselves in bomb shelters.
Without the government to provide sufficient help, private social welfare organizations have proliferated in recent years. Such groups were at the forefront of assisting those in the north during the Hezbollah war, delivering food, medicine and psychological care.
Sari Revkin, who nine years ago founded the citizens-rights organization, YEDID: The Association for Community Empowerment, said the needs of the underclass grow every month and the government "seems to sink back into silence."
"We've been put in the position of doing what the government should be doing, knowing that if we turn people away they will retrench into themselves," she said. "Three thousand new people a month come [to us] for help."
Meanwhile, R of Holon awaits an uncertain future.
"The cellphone company wants to take away my phone; the electricity company says they are going to cut me off," she said. "And there is no government budget to help us, my social worker tells me."
She gets free food packages from the Israeli charity Ezer Mizion, which has seen the demand for food soar in the past year.
Moshe Traube, the manager of the Holon-Bat Yam branch of the charity, said the tragic stories of destitution and abandonment he hears constantly can be overwhelming.
"Here the rich get richer and poor get poorer," he said. "Everyone has to struggle for him or herself alone."
Food for the Disadvantaged: www.bfc.org.il
Israel Business Conference: http://www.globes.co.il/Serve/Globes/docview.asp?did=1000155200&fid=2717
Wisconsin Works: http://www.dwd.state.wi.us/dws/w2/
National Insurance Institute: http://www.btl.gov.il/
Abraham Hirchson: http://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mk_eng.asp?mk_individual_id_t=42
Ezer Mizion: http://www.ezermizion.org/