The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment & Analysis -

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

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