When you look at a graph of poverty rates over in Israel since its inception in 1948, it’s not a pretty picture. Year over year, we see a steady incline in the number of people who live on or under the poverty line in Israel. Therefore, it isn’t shocking when reports come out showing that Israel’s overall poverty rate is the highest among all OECD nations.

It’s really an unfortunate situation. Decades ago, Israel was considered a third world (but developing) country. Today, that is no longer the case. Every country in the world considers Israel to now be a first world country. This begs the question: why are Israel’s poverty rates at 31% and counting?

Naturally, there are several factors at play here. We could write a book about all of the contributing factors behind this atrocity, but we won’t get into all of them. However, we would like to point out one of the main reasons: the government and its spending habits.

Power in the Middle East

Many supporters of Israel will emphatically say that Israel needs to maintain a qualitative military edge in its current political environment. And of course, Israel believes this as well. Unsurprisingly then, a sizable amount of Israel’s budget goes toward its military complex. And unfortunately, this is a major contributing factor to the current poverty levels in Israel.

Yes, it is true that people need to help themselves first – including the poor. However, billions of dollars are being spent on the military. Though Israel definitely needs a large portion of this for its defense needs (as can be seen by its various enemies surrounding Israel), many experts claim that there is excessive spending on Israel’s part in regard to its military budget.

If Israel could allocate just a quarter of a billion dollars toward fighting poverty by taking some of the military budget and moving it into a “social” sector, this could do wonders for its poverty rates.

For the time being though, it looks like Israel will stay the course. Hopefully, the decision makers in Israel will open their eyes to other realities on the ground, aside from its security and defense.