There is a silent tsunami that washed away the safety net that protects poor people in Israel. With the new budget cuts put in place seemingly every year, thousands of children, elderly and families will be under the poverty line. Government subsidies for the underprivileged have been slashed by a large percentage.
Eliyahu escorts special needs children on their way to and from school. He gets up at the crack of dawn, to make the first shift. Since he is under the poverty line, he received a monthly stipend from Bituch Leumie (Social Security in Israel) for 800 shekels ($200) a month. He now receives 150 shekels ($42) a month from the government. The supplements for children were also cut, leaving him with another 320 shekels ($90) less monthly. His discount on personal property taxes was removed, so he now has to pay 400 shekels more a month. In total, he lost NIS 1470 ($412) shekels a month, about 20% of his income.
“How can it be that Israel is ranked as the fifth country to have the highest level of poverty, next to Mexico by the OECD? asked Aryeh Lurie, the founder of Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, an organization that distributes food baskets in Israel. “Our phones are ringing constantly. No one can make it anymore. The yearly budget cuts have left people actually hungry in Israel. We have never seen something like this in our history ,” said Aryeh Lurie.
True, there is a deficit in the government. But the poor people shouldn’t have to bear the burden of that. “They don’t scream, but we hear their silent cry. Poverty does not have to be a bad thing if a person has enough to eat and to live on. It is a tragedy if people are hungry and go without the basics because of lack of funds -especially for children” said Lurie.
Poverty in children leads to at-risk youth, crime, and perpetuates itself with the cycle of poverty for the next generation. There is no more valuable investment that the children in Israel. They are the future. Is it wise to implement budget cuts against those who are the most vulnerable because they don’t have a voice, they don’t protest?