Today Israelis marked the International Day for the Struggle Against Poverty at the Knesset in an event organised by the Forum for the Struggle Against Poverty, of which Rabbis for Human Rights is an active member, and Members of Knesset from various parties including Eli Alaluf, (Kulanu), head of the Committee for Labor and Welfare; Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid), formerly the Minister of Welfare; Elon Gilon (Meretz), Abdullah Abu Marouf (Joint List – Hadash), and Akram Hasson from Kulanu.
Six buses brought participants to the Knesset, and at least 400 people participated in 14 break-away discussions on topics ranging from poverty among immigrants, the rights of children, and food insecurity among women living in poverty, to discussions regarding current Israeli legislation as related to the struggle against poverty. Speakers included members of the forum, people themselves living in poverty, the Minister of Welfare, as well Prof Yona Rosenfeld, winner of the Israel Prize, and chair of the Social Workers to Combat Poverty Forum. Additionally, a position paper written by RHR was presented. The number of participants this year was the largest yet!
Our goal is to bring to the agenda the lack of comprehensive policy regarding poverty in Israel, and to ensure that the voices of people living in poverty to be heard with regards to the policy that impacts their lives. Our three ongoing demands are:
1. Government set quantitive targets for the reduction of poverty
2. Multipronged national plan for the reduction of poverty
3. The development of the plan must include the input of people living in poverty
The most important success of the day comes from the fact that the voices of those living in poverty were heard loud and clear by Knesset members. Ruth Joshua, who is active in the Forum for the Struggle Against Poverty, spoke:
“I was born to my mother with a hungry stomach. For years, I lived in shame until I realized it was not my fault…. I am accompanying here a mother who is living with three children in her mother’s home…. They are all sleeping in the same bed, and barely have the opportunity to eat and to study.”
Rachel, an activist from the Haifa summarised:
“The head of Kulano, Roi Folkman , called me by name and allowed me to speak and also allowed two MKs to respond to what I said. It gave me a good feeling that there is someone that respects people living in poverty.”
Members of the Forum for the Struggle Against Poverty:
Activists for Communities Living in Poverty| Union of Social Workers | Prisoner Rights |
| Anu | Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews | Food for the Disadvantaged | ACRI | Em HaBanim: Divorced Mothers are Not Alone| Israel Center for Promotion of Social Justice | Yes for the Elderly-Promoting Senior Rights | Internships for Social Change – Beersheva | Social Safety Net | Rabbis for Human Rights | Haifa Cooperative for Stopping the Cycle of Poverty | Shatil founded by the New Israel Fund | Mossawa Center – The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens Living in Israel|Society for Patient Rights in Israel | Jerusalem Municipality Community Services |The Institute for Civic Responsibility | The Social Guard | The Situation Room | Social Rights Centers in the Negev -Sderot, Ofakim, Be’er Sheva | Osim Shinooy | Disabled, not a half person | Rotem Center |Women Leading Change – Beersheva