Moshe Kahlon is an Israeli politician who currently serves as a member of the Knesset for Likud and as Minister of Communications and Minister of Welfare & Social Services. cc: wikipedia
The reform of the Bituach Leumi which was proudly announced by the Minister of Social Welfare does not address the real problems of those in need of the services of Bituach Leumi. What would address them? Maybe it is worth asking the people themselves.
By Idit Lev
Many complaints are made about the complicated bureaucracy of Bituach Leumi. Moshe Silman’s choice stunned many of us and caused a flurry of stories about the many great difficulties faced by vulnerable sections of the community in establishing a decent existence. It appears that at least some of the media have begun to relate seriously to the claims. There are Facebook groups like “Hatiuch Haleumi” (“the national whitewash”) and a series of articles on the wretched state of Bituach Leumi appeared in “Yediot Aharonot.” It appears that the government of Israel is also changing its attitude to the vulnerable population and working to correct the situation. Minister Kahlon has published a new initiative to reform the Bituach Leumi. The reform is not really of Bituach Leumi, but of assistance to those people who receive Bituach Leumi benefits, to implement their rights to reductions in different payments (for example, rates, electricity, etc.). This is because today this implementation is complicated and intimidating.
To someone who knows the details, it sounds like deception. Bituach Leumi has today already passed on the data it has on those entitled to automatic reductions to the relevant authorities. Last year, as part of a project we were involved in, we carried out a check with people who came to our rights centre and everyone we asked received the reductions he was entitled to automatically.
One authority we have a lot of complaints about is the Ministry of Transportation and we dealt with tens of cases, and in none of them was the person asked to bring authorization from Bituach Leumi (as is claimed by the initiators of the reform). Information about those who are entitled is at the Ministry of Transportation (which receives it from Bituach Leumi). These people are requested to telephone and report that their card for reduction on public transport has not arrived by post. The real difficulty for those entitled to the reduction is paying for the telephone call, including waiting more than half an hour for an answer.
The poverty of reforms
In the Talmud it is written “Beware of the poor from whom the Torah will come,” (Nedarim page 81 a) the same poor that our society treats patronizingly as people who do not know how to run their lives and help themselves, these people know which reforms should be made. If Minister Kahlon had consulted with them, I imagine they would have recommended different reforms.
The Fourth World movement thinks that ” extreme poverty is not only a problem for the poor, but for the whole society, because the exclusion of the poor harms not only them but also, no less, the institutions that exclude them” (Professor Shimeon Shapira). The way to combat poverty, which is a creation of man and not a stroke of fate, is by real cooperation with people living in poverty in the making of decisions and in the consolidation of actions against poverty.
If Minister Kahalon wants to enact real reforms at the Ministry of Social Welfare and at Bituach Leumi and to help people living in poverty, I invite him to meet our action group at the rights centre in Hadera (operated by RHR), and to hear from women who cope daily with a life of poverty. They have wise, practical ideas, which are meaningful for them and for many other people.
And in connection with the suggested reform, one proposal which can already be made is that, just as disability benefits are paid retroactively from the day the request is submitted, so also other relevant reductions should be retroactive from the date that Bituach Leumi recognizes the health disability.
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