Op pro-Israelische sites verschijnen geregeld berichten over Israels formidabele high-tech, de nieuwste medische vindingen en innovaties op gebied van landbouw. Allemaal mooi, ook omdat deze zaken worden ingezet buiten de landsgrenzen. Wrang daarbij is de verwaarlozing van een flink deel van de eigen bevolking dat onder de armoedegrens leeft. Steeds meer kinderen moeten geregeld met honger naar bed. Sociale voorzieningen zijn karig, en volkomen ontoereikend om van te leven. Sommige Israeli’s kiezen er ook zelf voor om in armoede te leven, zoals leden van de ultra orthodoxe gemeenschap die principieel niet willen werken maar hun energie aan religieuze studie besteden. Maar dat geldt lang niet voor iedereen. De verschillen tussen arm en rijk zijn enorm toegenomen, en veel mensen hebben meer dan een baan nodig omdat veel lonen te laag zijn om van te leven. De regering moet dan ook meer prioriteit geven aan het bestrijden van de armoede.
Food insecurity affects 900,000 Israelis, report finds
State Comptroller blames gov’t for over-reliance on charitable groups to feed the hungry; 50% of Arab population can’t meet nutritional needs
A mother and her daughter stand inside a food distribution center for the needy, in Jerusalem on March 7, 2013 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A new State Comptroller report found the government lacking in its efforts to ensure that Israelis are able to maintain a basic nutritional diet, and that by relying on charity organizations, the state was not fulfilling its duty to the public.
The Nutritional Insecurity report, published on Monday, calculated that there are some 900,000 Israelis who are occasionally forced to go a whole day without food, or those who for months at a time limit the amount of food they eat and go hungry.
Some 330,000 families — 18.3% of the total population — face nutritional insecurity, defined as the ability to regularly consume food that includes all the nutrients required for proper development and human health. Among Israeli Arabs, nearly 50% of the population is unable to meet minimal nutritional needs, the report said.
The audit looked at government ministries and their efforts to beat hunger between February and August of 2013, with a particular focus on the Welfare Ministry.
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira lamented the governments over-reliance on non-profit organizations to distribute food, saying such an approach creates a system that is inherently unbalanced. The non-profit organizations tend to distribute resources according to their own capabilities rather than where the resources are needed most, he explained.
“Poverty is not a decree of fate,” Shapira wrote. “A society that doesn’t cater to the poor and the needy living in it not only hurts their dignity and rights, but also affects its own image.”
The scarce allocation of government resources and the continued reliance on voluntary giving as a solution to nutritional insecurity indicates “very little government commitment to treating the subject as a whole,” Shapira added.
MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) blamed the situation on what he called the government’s capitalist ideology and attitudes.
“The comptroller reveals a difficult picture of the widening and deepening of the circle of poverty, that includes more and more working people,” Khenin was quoted by Walla news as saying. “This is a direct result of the extreme capitalist policies of the Netanyahu government.”
Welfare Minister Meir Cohen deflected the report’s findings onto previous governments and said that many of its conclusions are in line with his own plans for dealing with the problem, Ynet reported.
“The report refers to the period before the the current government’s term,” he responded. “It is very important for me to emphasize that it is largely compatible with the policy that I am leading, which would make the state primarily responsible for nutritional security.”
In January, Cohen’s Yesh Atid party declared its plan to have the government invest over NIS 200 million toward tacking nutritional insecurity, but that plan has yet to be implemented.