Tag archive for "Knesset"

Documents, General, Justice in Israel

Position of Rabbis for Human Rights on the Governance Law

1 Comment 11 March 2014

 Shomrei Mishpat – Rabbis for Human Rights joins in opposing the Governance Law which is due to be brought to a vote in a second and third reading this week; this opposition stems from serious concern of subversion of the rights of Israeli citizens who belong to the Arab minority.  Rabbis for Human Rights demands that the Knesset send the Governance Law back to committee to add internationally accepted mechanisms for preventing harm to the representation of Israel’s Arab minority Continue Reading

General, Justice in Israel, Press Releases

Knesset Stops Privatization of Employment Services

No Comments 18 January 2014

PRESS RELEASE | JANUARY 15th 2014

The Knesset halts the privatization of the Israeli Employment Services, for now

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General, Justice in Israel, Press Releases

Cycle of Employment Program (AKA- The Wisconsin Plan)

No Comments 16 January 2014

PRESS RELEASE: JANUARY 14 2014

The Cycle of Employment Program (Wisconsin Plan) will undermine the rights of its participants

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General, Justice in Israel

Elaluf: Failing on poverty

No 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.

 

General, Justice in Israel

Threat to Public Housing

1 Comment 10 January 2014

NOTE: This post by Nitzan Tenami, originally published in the Hebrew in “HaOkets,” was written for a January 6th Knesset discussion. However, the discussion did not occur, and the question of which committee will take on the amendment remains unknown still. 

public-housing

IMAGE: Hebrew reads: “Orit Ahanna: Single parent of three, waiting nine years for aid that doesn’t arrive because of a clerical error. Where will I go and how will I pay?”

By: Nitzan Tenami

January 6th the widely-praised amendment to the public housing law will be brought to the Knesset committee. There it will be determined whether it will be discussed by the members of the Labor and Welfare Committee – the natural choice – or by the Finance Committee, which is likely to eliminate it for good.

Monday, January 6th,  the Knesset committee is expected to decide which committee will discuss the amendment to Israel’s public housing law. The goal of the original law was to allow long-time tenants, most of whom are immigrants from Arab countries, to buy their apartments at a reduced price, so they, not only residents of kibbutzim and moshavim, can leave property to their children and help the next generation to break the cycle of poverty. The law also stipulates that the money that would be made from the sale of the apartments, along with additional funds to be invested by the government, will be used to revitalize public housing apartments and to ensure that the housing budget will remain at the level promised by the current law. This is part of the worldview that every country (depending on how much the country defines itself as a welfare state) must ensure that citizens who cannot purchase an apartment at market prices still have shelter and a place to live.

Like many laws oriented towards social justice, this law has been frozen in the Arrangements Law year after year since 2001 and thus not implemented in practice. The apartments, however, were sold, and of the proceeds – some 2.75 billion shekels – only 680 million went to the housing ministry, and not one shekel has been put towards the construction of new public housing. We thus find ourselves today with only 60,000 public housing apartments, which are meant to answer the plight of the 442,000 poor families in Israel. The sale of the public housing, which was planned as a sort of socially just revolution, actually sat well with the position of the Finance Ministry and the government of Israel, who sought to eliminate public housing and replace it with rental assistance. Rental assistance was preferable because it is just another typical government stipend, one that is (like all stipends) subject to constant erosion. It does not create a sense of security about one’s right to shelter, and helps push citizens in need of public housing to the geographic and social periphery. In this spirit, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Housing Minister Uri Ariel recently decided to “unfreeze” the public housing law and allow the sale of the remaining apartments, while changing the clause stipulating that proceeds will be used to buy new apartments and that the housing budget will remain the same.

 

The Knesset committee is now meant to decide which committee will hold hearings on the law, as the government pushes to pass the law to the Finance Committee while a long line of Knesset members from every party demands that the law be brought to the Labor and Welfare Committee. On the surface, there is no dilemma: the right to housing is a basic pillar in the social security system, which is responsibility of the Labor and Welfare Committee. The Finance Committee, on the other hand, is responsible for the national budget, taxes on foreign currency, and banking. If this is not enough, all one needs to do is read the official opinion of the Union of Local Authorities in Israel, which states that “the transition of the Housing Ministry, and in practice the entire government, to the rental assistance policy is a serious blow to all those who are eligible and to those on the periphery.” Or one could simply look at the letter from the Israel Association of Social Workers to understand the far-reaching social and economic implications of this issue. The letter states: “In light of the fact that the government’s economic plan does not intend to solve the public housing issue in the next several years, we are forced to consider instructing the various agencies responsible for social services in this country that in the absence of any real solutions, that they might no longer be able to productively work with and care for those in need of public housing.”

Yes, but… the Finance Committee, where members of the coalition form a decisive majority, is a sort of executive arm of the current government. This is a committee that transfers funds casually from budget item to budget item, according to the Finance Ministry requests. This is a committee that will not view the public housing law as a tool to correct social injustice and as a way to enable government intervention in the property market, but rather as a way to take more money from public housing tenants and to invest it in projects that bring the government prestige and good PR. If the public housing law goes to the Finance Committee and not to its appropriate place in the Labor and Welfare Committee, the Knesset will be able to record in its minutes that it has taken another step towards the elimination of public housing.

Nitzan Tenami, of Rabbis for Human Rights,  is a member of the Public Housing Forum. This article was originally published in “HaOkets.”

 

General, Justice in Israel

Voices of women in poverty

1 Comment 19 December 2013

Rabbi Idit Lev brings us a number of unforgettable testimonies from the conference organized at the Knesset by Rabbis for Human Rights as members of the Forum for the Struggle Against Poverty to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty:

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I wouldn’t be living in poverty: Testimony of women living in poverty in Israel

A single mother from Lod: I work as an aid for children who come from families which are very difficult to aid, I earn just above minimum wage, and I pay NIS 2000 in rent, NIS 750 in bills, and there’s barely money left to get by. My children don’t go to after-school programs or go out to have fun. I want to give my children more – so I also work on weekends. Because I work I am not entitled to government benefits or allowance payments. If I got these benefits, I wouldn’t be living in poverty. If minimum wage were higher, I wouldn’t be living in poverty.

A single mother who works as a caregiver for the elderly: I grew up in the ultra-Orthodox world, I was dazzled by the secular world, and I married without understanding. The beginning was nice. I never worked, and when we decided to get divorced I was left with a house, small children and no way to make a living. I had no employment experience and no profession. I put my children to bed hungry. Many difficult experiences. I work part time, because I need to run many errands – because of the debts, the alimony and so on. The errands never end. And I ask, how can a person work more when they have to go to the Execution Office and other places like that? What will lift me out of poverty? Not doing me any favors. Only change in legislation will assist me – increasing allowance payments. Then we’ll be able to gather our strength in order to move to a better job. You, the Members of Knesset, come to the neighborhoods and speak with us. I invite the Finance Minister Yair Lapid to come to my house, to get to know my neighbor who eats out of the garbage can, and my child who hasn’t been to school for two weeks because there’s no money for warm clothes. I will take you with me to run errands, maybe on the bus and if I don’t have money – then by foot. We’ll go to the welfare office – so you’ll hear how they have nothing to give. Just come – my door is open.

A woman with disabilities, mother of three small children: I have a disability, and I started working about two hours a day – because that’s what I am able to do. My income barely covers the cost of food. After a year and a half I fell ill and my doctor instructed me to stop working. The child allowance was also cut. The unemployment allowance is lower than a salary, and I applied for income support benefits but I was denied. I am supposed to live off of NIS 1500 per month. I have no thoughts of paying the school anything – there’s no money. I don’t go to the doctor, because it costs money and I also can’t afford the medication I need. Every day I ask myself what to do, and how to get out of this situation? How can I get out of this cycle? And what do I do with three young children? I am asking to raise my children with dignity.

A single mother: I don’t want money, I only want help for my children. I want my children to learn and to be able to live with dignity. I can’t buy medication every month. I don’t always have money for food.

Share these voices from below, because time is running out!

 

Refugees rights - UNHCR

Refugees march for freedom

1 Comment 18 December 2013

And the refugee came to me…

refugeeMarch

by Rabbi Nava Hefetz

Jerusalem, the Prime Minister’s Office, 3:15 p.m. Hundreds of asylum seekers are demonstrating and demanding their freedom. A handful of Israelis and a few Members of Knesset stand by them. They begin to walk toward the Knesset, but hundreds of police – patrol cars full of Migration Police – shove them into buses and send them back to Holot prison facility. What evil, what lack of compassion and sensitivity in the face of people who fled hell in their own countries and seek asylum! We’re all familiar with the picture, aren’t we? After all, 65 years ago we were also held behind barbed wire fences in Cyprus. Is this the face of humanity? Is this Jewish conduct? Standing there by the Knesset, I saw the ugly, cruel faces of the leaders of my beloved country. My dear friend Dudu Palma, the son of Holocaust survivors, is a poet, a painter, and an outstanding educator. He wrote down the following words. Please share them.

Yizkor – Remembrance

by David (Dudu) Palma

For those who remember have forgotten and those who forgot will testify
How those who vowed to forget nothing
Slowly fell into silence.
Again young men die, pistols in hand,
Again Molotov cocktails from fading photographs
Smash in sepia light against the side of armored vehicles.

For those who remember have forgotten and those who forgot will testify
How rust-eaten ships rise up
Shattering forgetfulness.
The sounds of the mourner’s Kaddish echo from Warsaw and Altona
The dead squirm like worms in the warrens of our memory
From Bukovina and Bialystok, and again the lads from Vilna
Sing in the heavens with the voices of angels.

For those who remember have forgotten and those who forget will testify
How the Cossacks laugh in Namirov,
Why babies wail in Kishinev,
And with what cause prayers are sighed in Minsk.
And again horses whinny on the paths of Kolomyia,
And again women shake in Tranov.

For those who remember have forgotten and those who forgot will testify
How the seals of time were sundered
And again Jews are led to Dachau, Buchenwald, Neuengamme.
Again they are humiliated to death in Ravensbrück
Again, almost apologetically, they die in Treblinka, Chelm, Majdanek,
Again a last waltz is played in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen,
And again decaying teeth screech in Terezin and Sobibor.

For those who remember have forgotten and those who forgot will testify
That we were every old man executed there
And every baby shot to death there.
We are a glass booth placed before Israel,
For those who remember have forgotten and those who forget will remember
That we were
Israel.

Translation from Hebrew: Shaul Vardi

More information and details on the march here

WATCH: Coverage filmed live from Jerusalem yesterday just before the stopping of the demonstration.

Video streaming by Ustream

General, Justice in Israel-Prawer

Prawer canceled: Rabbi Ascherman’s response

No Comments 18 December 2013

Currently in the USA, Rabbi Ascherman, President and Senior Rabbi of RHR, shares his thoughts on the recent developments regarding the Prawer Plan.

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Dear Friends and Supporters,

Greetings from the U.S., where I am on a speaking tour.  It is difficult for me not to be in Israel right now as we savor a victory yesterday  over the Begin/Prawer bill, and to play in the Jerusalem snow with my children.

Below, you can see in Hebrew the response of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages, and of RHR to the news that Benny Begin acknowledged that there was not sufficient support for the bill, and asked PM Netanyahu to freeze it, which he did!!! Despite PM Netanyahu’s decision to freeze the bill, the committee continues as the government has not yet pulled back the bill.

This is a time to pause and realize that we, you and especially the Bedouin community have accomplished something. I couldn’t even begin to thank all of those in Israel and abroad who have been partners in this effort. RHR spokesperson Yariv Mohar has particularly been my partner day and night over many months, doing way more than just a spokesperson’s job.  Another special thanks to the 800 rabbis and cantors who signed the joint RHR/T’ruah letter to date, and the many rabbinic movements in Israel and abroad who have spoken up and spoken out.

At the same time, we are conscious that the struggle is just beginning.  The radical right is saying that already by the Monday session of the Knesset Interior Committee they will be introducing new legislation even worse than the Begin/Prawer bill.

This week’s Torah portion points the way to an alternative possibility Jacob learns from the terrible consequences of his outright preference for Joseph.  When blessing Joseph’s children, he does put his right hand on the younger grandchild, Efraim.  However, he blesses them together.  To this day, we bless male children on Friday night with Jacob’s words, “May God make you like Efraim and Menashe.”

I am hopeful that we too will learn from our mistakes.  Rather than speaking paternalistically about what is “Good for the Bedouin,” while planning demolition, transfer and dispossession, maybe we will learn to speak at eye level with our fellow citizens. May it be God’s Will that we find a way to bring God’s blessings to all.

For those of you who have missed the news, after all of our efforts on so many levels against the Begin/Prawer bill, the final straw was the “Day of Rage” on November 30th.  It is sad that it was only after thousands of Bedouin took to the streets, and there was both police violence and Bedouin violence, that people started realizing that it was simply spin to say that most Bedouin support the bill and that only a handful of provocateurs oppose it.  The Day of Rage led to wide spread media coverage in Israel and around the world.

On Monday  two things happened. Firstly, a government map was exposed showing more of what their true intentions are. 

Secondly, Benny Begin, whose personal integrity and honesty is legendary, said that, contrary to what government spin doctors have been saying, he had never claimed that the Bedouin had agreed to his plan. He had merely said that he had spoken with many Bedouin about his ideas.  This prompted the radical right to say that they had only been supporting this “Giveaway” to the Bedouin because the Bedouin were also supporting it.  Now, they would withdraw their support.   Yesterday, as reported abo ve, Begin recommended that the Knesset debate on the bill be suspended.

This does not mean that the battle is over, or that we are out
of the woods.  There will now be a tough fight between those
pushing for a worse bill, those who will be content to leave
things as they are, but leave the Bedouin in poverty, continue
to demolish, and approve new Jewish communities where Bedouin
communities still exist, and those of us who will be pushing
for a genuine dialogue with the Bedouin and a serious look at
the RCUV/Bimkom alternative plan.

There are now four alternative scenarios:

1.    The far right will succeed in promoting a plan worse than Begin/Prawer.
2.     After a hiatus, Begin/Prawer will be brought back.
3.    The current status quo will be maintained.  That means the 35 “Unrecognized” villages, and to a large degree the townships and recognized villages, will suffer ongoing demolitions, lack of basic infrastructure and services, etc.  The government will continue to advance plans to build new Jewish communities on the ruins of Bedouin communities.  Begin made a point of saying that we must not leave the Bedouin in their current degrading conditions.

Each of these options will lead to a burning Negev, people fleeing and investments drying up. If we do not double our efforts, we may wake up in 10 years and say that Begin was right when he said that there is no perfect justice, and that his bill was the best the Bedouin could ever expect, given Israel’s political landscape.

4.    However, as I said above, there is a fourth possibility.  The government could begin to speak with the RCUV as the chosen representatives of the unrecognized villages, seriously consider the RCUC/Bimkom alternative master plan, and turn a new leaf in the relations between the State of Israel and her Bedouin citizens.

May it be God’s Will. May we and our Bedouin partners have the strength and wisdom to stay on course and help make God’s Will a reality.

Shabbat Shalom,
Arik

P.S.  As we approach the end of the year, your generous end of the year contribution will help us continue this fight, and win more victories like we won yesterday.  Full donation information can be found at here, and you can make an on-line donation at bit.ly/rhrdonate.  For those of you who donated to our paid media campaign to fight Begin/Prawer, we will be monitoring developments to decide whether to continue with that campaign.  As we had said when soliciting those donations, they remaining funds will be used for other Bedouin related programming should the media campaign no longer be necessary.

P.S.S.  My current speaking/fundraising tour continues:

December 13-15  Eugene
December 16-17th  Houston
December 18 – NYC
December 19 – 20 St. Louis
December 20-21  Cleveland
December 22-23  Washington, DC.
December 24  Miami/Ft. Lauderdale
December 25-25 – NYC

For more information about this, or to arrange for me or other RHR representatives to either visit your community or meet with you in Israel, please contact Sara Zur at rhr.sara@gmail.com.  I can be reached in the U.S. at (206) 250-1451, ravarik@rhr.israel.net.

Atiah El Asam, Chairperson of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages

 ”We are pleased with the decision to freeze the discussions on the Prawer Bill, and we are hopeful that the bill will be cancelled entirely.  We declared from the outset that this plan is not a solution for the unrecognized villages, but rather adds more difficulties to the difficulties that we are already dealing with.  We hope that the problem will be solved in a way that satisfies the residents and meets their demands and rights.  We know that this development is the result of a just struggle by Bedouin citizens and all those who stand with them:  Many Arabs and Jews, human rights organizations and the wisdom of Benny Begin to realize that there is no program.

Rabbis For Human Rights:

“As we knew and said, Israel and the Jewish people are much better than the Prawer Bill, and the intent to expel some 40,000 citizens from their homes. We congratulate the Bedouin community for their determined and successful struggle.  We also appreciate the step taken by former minister Benny Begin.  Of him we can say he is, ” Upright and righteous and speaks truthfully in his heart” (Psalms 15:1-2) We also warn that stopping this problematic plan is only the first step.  We now must achieve the recognition of the unrecognized Bedouin villages and ensure basic infrastructure and budgets, as outlined in the alternative master plan of the RCUV and “Bimkom” We are commanded regarding the non-Jew living among us, “There shall be one law for all, the non-Jew living among you shall be treated as a citizen. ” (Leviticus 24:22)

Justice in Israel-Prawer, Press Releases

Gov’t drops Prawer

No Comments 13 December 2013

PRESS RELEASE | December 12 2013

stopprawer

On Thursday, December 12th, Israel announced that the current version of the Prawer Plan would be dropped. Extremely controversial, the Prawer Plan threatened expulsion and dispossession of lands to an estimated 40,000 Negev Bedouin. Below are responses from Atia Al Assam, Chairman of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, and from Rabbis for Human Rights.

Atia Al Assam, Chairman of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev:

We are satisfied with the decision to freeze the hearings on the Prawer Bill, and hopeful that the bill will be revoked entirely. We knew from the beginning that there was no plan here for a solution to the unrecognized village problem, but rather more problems to pile on to those we are already dealing with. We hope that the problem will be solved in a manner which will satisfy the residents and meet our demands and be consistent with our rights. We know that this step is also due to the just struggle of Bedouin citizens and all those who stood with them: the Arab sector, many Jews, the human rights organizations, and Benny Begin’s understanding that there is no plan.

Rabbis for Human Rights on the intention to discontinue the hearings on the Prawer bill:

As we have said and known, Israel and the Jewish people are better than the Prawer bill and the intention to displace 40 thousand citizens from their homes. We congratulate the Bedouin community on their steadfast and successful campaign. The steps taken by former MK Benny Begin are also praiseworthy, as it is written: “The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart” (Psalms 15:2). We also caution that preventing this problematic plan from being implemented is only the first stage; the next stage must be recognition of the unrecognized Bedouin villages and the promotion of basic infrastructure and budgets, according to the alternative plan of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages and expert planners from Bimkom, as we are commanded, “You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born” (Leviticus 24:22).

Justice in Israel-Prawer

Wisconsin Plan: Just won’t go away

No Comments 28 November 2013

wisplan

Members of Knesset against the Wisconsin Plan’s return to the Knesset

By: Rabbi Idit Lev

On November 11, the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee held a hearing on the Wisconsin Plan – yes, the one that was cancelled by the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee with the remarkable unanimous agreement of all of the committee’s members against the government. Since its cancellation, we have entered in an endless cycle in which the government attempts to bring the program back, unsuccessfully for the time being. Rabbi Idit Lev updates us from the Knesset about the ongoing and unending campaign against the return of the Wisconsin Plan:

The recent committee hearing was different from previous ones. The Ministry of Finance, which has presented fully formed and organized plans in the past, arrived this time without an organized plan, at least according to the Ministry’s representative. The representative stated that he came for negotiations with the committee and that the Ministry is open to changes that the committee would like to make. But he did not highlight to the committee members the outline that the Ministry thinks the program must follow. Furthermore, the only significant change that he presented was that the program would be under the management of the Israeli Employment Service. This statement’s meaning is still unclear. The Ministry of Finance’s representative also said that in the absence of agreement between the Ministry and the Committee, there will be no program. What is the meaning of this statement?

No programs for the unemployed

When the Wisconsin Plan was operating, it provided “work support services,” funding for housing, for transportation to work and even babysitting. The funding was for six months, and decreased with each passing month. This was one of the program’s significant tools and it was never granted to the Employment Service. There is no need for legislation to allow the Employment Service to provide this assistance to the unemployed, but the Ministry of Finance refuses to provide these services via the Israeli Employment Service.

Therefore, the statement by the representative of the Ministry of Finance can be taken as a kind of threat – consent to our terms and the State of Israel will invest budgets and resources; don’t consent to our terms and the State of Israel will continue to dry out the Israeli Employment Service and not provide proper services to those who receive income support.

Members of Knesset against the Ministry of Finance

Afterwards, Members of Knesset spoke, most of them with harsh words against the program. They demanded that the Ministry of Finance cease bringing the program to them. Of the MKs, there were two – Rina Frenkel and Adi Kol of the Yesh Atid party – who spoke a bit differently, saying that though there are problems with the program, they insisted that the Israeli Employment Service has failed, and therefore there is a need for the program. It is not clear which part of what they said is believable – that they are against the Israeli Employment Service, or against the Wisconsin Plan.

It felt like they hadn’t really decided what they thought or wanted.

In sum, the Committee Chair, MK Haim Katz, announced that the committee would submit a list of questions to the Ministry of Finance, and that the hearing would continue after the committee received answers. The response from the Ministry of Finance would require them to submit a program outline of their own and to answer the essential question raised by the Committee Chair during the hearing – the cost of privatization vs. its benefit.

The population which receives income support must and should receive assistance to return to the world of employment. This employment must first of all allow them to leave the harsh cycle of poverty and allow for a dignified life. The program must be governmental and not first control the people before it helps them. We are waiting for the next hearing, and to hear the Ministry of Finance’s response, and to take part in the public dialogue.

Click here to read why the Wisconsin Plan is so problematic

tags: Wisconsin, Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, cancel the Wisconsin Plan, campaign against Wisconsin, Ministry of Finance, Israeli Employment Service management, services to the unemployed, The Wisconsin Plan Returns to the Knesset, Wisconsin Plan

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