General, Justice in Israel

Elaluf: Failing on poverty

0 Comments 14 January 2014

A Chronology of Criticism: On the Eve of the Elaluf Committee for Combating Poverty’s Continued Hearings

RHR’s Rabbi Idit Lev of our Rights Center in Holon has been closely following the Elaluf Committee, appointed by the welfare minister to “combat poverty.” In late November when the committee first began to meet, Rabbi Lev wrote she was feeling doubtful. Now, by the third meeting, the committee is proving that her doubts were indeed justified.

By: Rabbi Idit Lev

From the outset we have been asking questions about the Elaluf Committee, which convened tomorrow for the third time. Our determined struggle to have the voice of Israel’s poor heard, as part of the Forum for the Struggle Against Poverty’s work (link in Hebrew), led to a thorough analysis of the committee in an investigation by Haaretz, one of Israel’s leading dailies. What follows is the chronology of the struggle.

We are closely following the committee as a part of our commitment to fighting poverty, and unfortunately, after an initial examination, believe that its chances of true success are minimal. As Rabbi Idit Lev wrote in her post: Poverty: Who Really Cares About It? The Elaluf Committee’s Chance of Success:

“And now it’s time to make good on their promises – today the committee will convene for its first discussion, which is meant to be open to the public. In no place on the Welfare Ministry’s website has it been announced that the committee is meeting, where it is meeting or when. It seems that the minister’s promises are baseless. People who live in poverty and others who are not members of the committee will find it very difficult to even find its discussions.

In the past ten years I’ve learned that people who live in poverty need to be part of every discussion and attempt to reduce the number of poor in Israel, which is the same argument made by the Fourth World Movement. People who live in poverty do not have their voice represented on this committee, and thus they are excluded from the debate surrounding their fate.”

RHR’s Efforts

As part of the Forum for the Struggle Against Poverty’s activity we presented a study with troubling findings about the debt level among people who live in poverty in a single neighborhood in Be’er Sheva [article available in Hebrew only]. And we marked the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty with an article entitled, “What Will Take Us Out of Poverty?” [Hebrew only]. We have broadcast all the hearings on our twitter feed (RHRIS) and we even published testimonies of women who live in poverty in Israel.

Involving the Poor

Our struggle to have the voice of Israel’s poor heard reached the front page headlines of Haaretz Hebrew edition. Rabbi Idit Levi wrote about the council:

“The Prime Minister’s office pushed the Committee for Combating Poverty to work with McKinsey, which profits from the changes and processes of privatization in the public sector, instead of the Brookdale Institute, a public institution partially owned by the government. This step was made behind the scenes and raises questions about the directions in which they are trying to push the committee’s decisions.” Read Or Kasthi’s full article in Hebrew at the Haaretz website.

Following our struggle in the Forum for the Struggle Against Poverty, an editorial was published in Haaretz calling for the involvement of people living in poverty in the hearings about their future and the plans to assist them. We hope we have sent this message loud and clear to the Welfare Minister.

On Friday yet another article by Or Kashti about the committee  [article in Hebrew]was published in the Haaretz Hebrew edition. Kashti revealed that three professors had withdrawn from the committee, and on Sunday Or Kasthi announced on his blog [article in Hebrew] the withdrawal of another member, deputy-chairman of the Housing Committee Arieh Bar. Bar had harsh criticism for the Israeli government regarding it’s conduct during a time in which the committee has yet to formulate a program:

“It is not easy to convince people that without a roof over your head your chance of being poor is high,” he said. “The housing problem did not exist from the 60s until the 80s. We’ve arrived at this situation because the state dismantled the assets that it once had in the field of implementation… the state needs to make sure that every citizen of Israel has a roof over their head. It is a basic thing, and it needs to be in legislation.”

Yesterday on the Seder Yom (Daily Agenda) program, Keren Neubach interviewed Or Kashti on the question of the Elaluf Committee’s work (in Hebrew from minute 13:15 until 22:00). Keren Neubach also asked him to expand on Arieh Bar’s withdrawal and comments. Kashti noted that Bar sees the committee as toothless, due to the government’s simultaneous attempt to bury the state’s responsibility for public housing [English]. The interview  also raised questions concerning universal benefits, privatization, and the outsourcing of the committee’s public relations to an external public relations firm.

We call on all of our readers and supporters to join the public hearings at the Mikveh Israel Agricultural School in Holon. In joining us, you can help give voice to those who live in poverty so that they might have a say in the decisions influencing their futures.


Picture: cc – Wikipedia. A homeless man in Paris | poverty in France.


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