Anshel Pfeffer ( JC, August 5) has ignored the fact that the Israeli protest which began in Tel Aviv has now spread to the periphery (eg Kiryat Shmona, Ashkelon, Dimona) and has included people from the entire political spectrum. These protests have for the first time put the issues of poverty and social justice at the forefront of the political agenda in Israel.
This uprising, galvanised by demands to lower the cost of living, food, healthcare and education, raised an issue that until now has been dealt with only by charities like ours. Prices of many products are rising in Israel and some of them cost even more than in the UK. The main problem is that average Israeli salaries are much lower than here, so the average citizen earns much less but has to spend much more. Many Israeli families, even where both parents are working, don’t earn enough to pay the monthly bills, which means many of the foods we take for granted in the UK, like meat, fish or cheese, become a luxury.
Until now, social issues or poverty were not on the government’s agenda and it was left to charities like Meir Panim to fill this gap and help those in need. We are providing more and more Israeli families — including many who were until recently described as “middle-class” — with food, education, training and basic needs, and aim to help them become self-sufficient.
Hopefully, now, thanks to this uprising, poverty is in the public consciousness and finally on the political agenda in Israel, and the decision makers will understand that something must be done. Gabriel Blauer Executive director, UK Branch of Meir Panim www.meirpanimuk.org