Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Poverty in Israel

The government came out with the annual poverty statistics and as usual there is a lot of hand wringing going on about how there are so many more poor people in Israel then in other OECD countries.

The fact is that these numbers are very skewed by the Charedim and the Arabs (I will not address the issue of the Arabs). The Charedim are almost 15% of all the poor in Israel and almost 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 (that I know of) which believes in the following 3 ideas:
1. No secular education
2. Every adult male should ideally be sitting and learning Torah all day and not working
3. There is a mitzva to have as many children as you possibly can, financial consequences be damned

When you put these 3 together, 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 very much in line with Western Europe.

The Charedi world wants to have its cake and eat it too. On one hand, have as many children as they can, 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.

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