Saturday, June 24, 2006

The number of poor people in Israel

In the last few days there have been a lot of articles in the Israeli press (both Charedi and non-Charedi) about how Israel has the largets umber of people living in poverty percentagewise in the developed world (over 17%). This has turned into an attack on Netanyahu's policies and a call for more government help for the poor.

The fact is that these numbers are very skewed by the Charedim and the Arabs. The Charedim are between 7-9% of all the poor in Israel and more then 50% of Charedim are living in poverty. However, Charedi poverty cannot be laid at the governments doorstep. Charedi poverty is by choice/idealogy.

There is no other subgroup in the developed world which believes in the following 2 ideas:
1. No secular education
2. Every adult male should be sitting and learning in Kollel

When you add in the large families it is a wonder that the level of poverty is not higher. If adult males do not work, that is asking for poverty and cannot be blamed on the government. Even if they do work, in the modern world, without higher education it is very difficult to make a living, period.

Therefore, if you take out the Charedi factor from the poverty statistics poverty in Israel would be about 10% of the population which is very much in line with Western Europe.

The Charedi world wants to have its cake and eat it too. On one hand, teach their children no secular studies and sit and learn and not go out to work, while on the other hand crying foul when the government decides to cut back the subsidies for that lifestyle. The Charedi world cannot expect the average Israeli taxpayer to subsidize their life.


mevaseretzion said...

Thank you for this post. Important issue.

Agala said...


This is not a typical Charedi issue!!!

Kol Hakavod

doresh said...

If you want to criticise, you should comment on the gedolim. All the charedi gedolim in eretz yiroel banned secular education. Rav eliashiv, Rav shach, Rav shlomo Zalman, the Stepler, the Chozon Ish.... the list goes on. They instituted the policy. I even read a whole explanation from a godol who adovocated the current system even if the army, preitsus and bitul torah were not issues - he said that torah was more likely to spring from poverty than from those with a higher standard of living.

So you must therefore say that they all have made a huge mistake. And that is a huge and dangerous statement.....

bluke said...

Times have changed and the Torah world needs to adapt. The world today is very different from the post WW II world when this system was started.

doresh said...

So all the current Gedolim are very mistaken? Is that what you are saying? I personally have heard them say that they are just as anti secular education ect as ever.

I just dont like the euphamisms. You clearly think they have made a terrible mistake. This implies the whole generation of Gedolim. Thats is quite unprecedented in history.

It also has ramifications because it is a rai-os-so on their judgement.

bluke said...

Not quite true, R' Steinman for example is in favor of Nachal Charedi as well as Charedi technical education. The fact it is in today's atmosphere it is very hard to say it, no one wants stones through their windows. We had a reminder of that no so long ago with the protests against R' Steinman in Montreal.

bluke said...

The gedolim hold that the current system even though it causes poverty is worth it because of the Torah world it creates. All I said is that the government is not going to continue supporting it and the Charedim can't complain that the gov't is cutting money from them. If the Chareid world can;t live without gov't money then it will need to adapt.

Shmuel said...

Of course the gdolim made a huge mistake, and their knucklehead slaves/disciples are paying the price, bitterly. Poor as church mice, they fly to America and shnorr gelt from everyone at every minyan what? Buy their children apartments in Jerusalem and Bet Shemesh. Pure craziness. Who says you have to buy an apartment? Why can't a single one of these clowns take a job like the rest of humanity? That wouldn't "pas," so they shnorr instead. That "pas"es!! What a crazy society. Brought to you by your local wrongheaded, "aino roeh es hanolad" gdolim.

Shmuel said...

And gdolim have been making mistakes for hundreds of years. I posted on this (My top ten list of mistakes made by "dass Toirah") on failedmessiah a few months back: the Gaon was wrong in his desire to wipe out Chasidus; the gdolishe opponents of Sara Schnerir were wrong; the gdolim who banned Rambam and burnt his books were wrong; the gdolim who backed Shabtai Tzvi were wrong; the gdolim who couldn't see the danger of Hitler and who urged their people not to leave for the treif medina of America were wrong; the gdolim who fought against the Zionists have been proven wrong; the gdolim who banned Slifkin were wrong; the gdolim who have plunged tens of thousands of Jews into extreme poverty in Israel are wrong. So, being wrong is the name of the game for the gdolim. The truth hurts, but, as Jesus used to say to the gdolim of his day, it also sets you free.