Jewish Journal

Arabs and Ultra-Orthodox Men Dragging Down Israel, Economist Warns

by Julie Gruenbaum Fax

May 11, 2010 | 12:03 pm

The Los Angeles Times reported that despite Israel’s current economic growth spurt, an Israeli economist is prophesying doom because of the large number of men in Israel who are on the government dole. Around 20 percent of men between 35 and 54 are not working.

Edmund Sanders reported from Jerusalem:

Officially, Israel’s unemployment rate is about 8%. But that doesn’t include Israeli citizens who are not trying to find work, either because they feel disenfranchised, such as many Arab Israelis, or because they’ve chosen a life of state-subsidized religious study, such as many ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Nearly 27% of Arab men and 65% of ultra-Orthodox Jews don’t work, government figures show. The non-employment rate for ultra-Orthodox men has tripled since 1970, Ben-David said.

“We support a lifestyle of nonworking that is pretty unparalleled in the Western world,” said Ben-David, who is also a Tel Aviv University professor. “On the one hand, we have this state-of-the-art part of the economy. Then there is the rest of the country that is like a huge drag.”

What worries Ben-David most is that the nonproductive part of Israel’s population, which survives largely on welfare, is also the fastest growing.

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