Information and news on israel

Israeli Eye Camps Treat and Train
MASHAV, the Hebrew acronym for Israel’s international development operation, pioneered the Israeli eye camps that are now undergoing implementation in many developing countries, providing sight to those who are unable to afford proper eye care. MASHAV has worked in regions such as North Africa and in countries such as China, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. People living in these regions often do not have access to proper medical care, so MASHAV has made it a goal to continue to provide aid to impoverished and disaster-affected areas worldwide.

The History of MASHAV

In 1958, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, or MASHAV, began. It helps developing countries lessen poverty, disease and hunger. MASHAV’s areas of expertise include crop production, animal care, nutrition and environmental sustainability, including addressing environmental challenges and bioenergy. MASHAV also specializes in fields such as water management, community development, irrigation, early childhood education, desert agriculture and many more.

One major way MASHAV has provided support is through sharing technology and providing technical training to local professionals. This is important as MASHAV seeks to work in a way that the progress the agency makes can continue once the agency’s members leave a country. Impoverished communities then obtain various skills and tools to lift themselves out of poverty. Seminars, workshops, training, conferences and exchange visits are a few of the most common ways MASHAV carries out its training goals.

Israeli Eye Camps in Africa

In Africa, many individuals living in poverty suffer from problems with their sight. Problems can include blindness due to malnutrition, trauma, cataracts or improper treatment of infections. Many are in need of surgery for cataracts and ocular plastic surgery services. However, inadequate healthcare facilities and severe shortages of supplies, trained personnel and equipment are prevalent in many African communities.

Beginning in 1960, Israeli medical experts and Israeli ophthalmologists set up clinics in impoverished communities in Africa to perform a variety of important activities. These clinics stayed in each area for two weeks. During that time, the medical professionals in the Israeli eye camps treated hundreds of people, restoring sight to many.

However, in addition to the effective reach of eye treatment, the camps provided medical training in eye care so that these areas could keep the camps operational after the Israeli professionals have left. In various developing nations, Israeli doctors found themselves training local professionals to carry on the mission through education on how to use a laser, to perform eye checkups and to perform other ocular procedures. This implementation of professionals into the community is a major long-term benefit of the eye camps.

Looking Forward

Many impoverished people in a variety of African countries suffer from treatable eyesight conditions. To aid these people, Israeli eye camps have allowed teams of doctors to treat individuals and train locals to maintain this kind of aid themselves. Providing a community with the knowledge and tools to continue projects begun by humanitarian aid organizations promotes social equity and sustainable growth.

– Madeline Drayna
Photo: Flickr

HebronHebron, also known as Al Khalil, is an ancient city located within the West Bank. It sits along the heavily-contested boundary between what is considered Palestinian and Israeli territory. As the site of vital religious and spiritual significance, Hebron has endured both strife and cultural development through the years. Demographically, Al Khalil is the most populated city within the West Bank, with 200,000 Palestinian-identifying residents as of 2018. One of the minority populations in the city, the Kurds, often suffered economically and financially due to their marginalized status. This disparity is especially clear in the context of refugee camps, where the majority of Kurdish communities reside. The Multidimensional Poverty Index of Palestine reports that poverty stands at 39% in refugee camps compared to 14% in rural areas and 24% in urban areas.

Life in Gaza

More than half of Palestinians living in Gaza, another site of frequent dissension, are currently in poverty. Furthermore, 33% of the Palestinian population suffers from unemployment. Food insecurity is an unfortunate but harsh reality among this segment of the population. This occurs due to trade boycotts and economic barriers. A variety of obstructions deter Palestinians from obtaining the resources they require. These range from physical checkpoints that divide the land and military frisking to international embargos as well as local trade impediments imposed by the Israeli state. On top of the hunger and poverty that families face, thousands of Palestinians experience homelessness and displacement.

The Israel-Palestine Conflict During COVID-19

As a result of the multitude of issues associated with trade and resource accessibility in Palestinian territory, more members of the population than ever before are presently struggling with extreme poverty. With the recent developments brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, medical resources have become a new source of internal conflict. The unequal distribution of vaccines has caused an uproar across all sides of the ongoing political dispute.

As the death rate among Palestinians rises and more than 2,670 Palestinians have passed away as of March 22, 2021, it is evident that government authorities must equalize the distribution of medical resources to meet citizens’ needs. However, due to the contentious conditions within Israel-Palestine, it is unclear exactly who is responsible for ensuring equal distribution among communities. The United Nations has shrugged off the burden. It instead stated that it is the state of Israel’s duty to vaccinate Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Such a designation of tasks has not proven successful. Political divides continue to affect the manner in which the population receives access to the vaccine.

The International Trade Drought in Hebron

In terms of the far-reaching effects of the pandemic in Hebron specifically, lack of access to foreign imports from China and East Asia has greatly weakened the already fragile Palestinian market. Many Palestinian business owners rely on Chinese-produced goods to make ends meet. With the increase of trade restrictions due to the global health crisis, merchants are no longer able to acquire the products that they normally sell to consumers. With much of agricultural sources of income blocked off by political circumstances, local trade is one of the few ways that Palestinian individuals are able to make a sustainable income.

According to Abdo Idrees, the head of Hebron’s Chamber of Commerce, another major source of income for Palestinian workers, factory work, has also suffered severely since 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the successes and downfalls of globalization in the local economy extremely apparent. The profits of exports have become unavailable and citizens cannot obtain a majority of the imported products upon which they depend.

Future Relief for the City of Al Khalil

Although current Israeli-Palestinian relations remain tense in the city of Al Khalil, particularly after the decision of the Biden administration to leave the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, a shred of hope still remains for Hebron and its citizens. The United Nations and other international bodies have expressed a firm commitment to attaining stability in the sacred city. The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) pledged to preserve its mission of protecting the citizens of Hebron and supporting a safe two-state solution that may be the key to finally achieving long-awaited peace and statehood for Palestine.

Luna Khalil
Photo: Flickr

Eliminate Poverty in Israel
In 2020, Israel faced a massive increase in poverty as COVID-19 spread throughout the world. In 2019, reports determined that poverty in Israel rose by 0.5%. There was a significant increase in the poverty rate from 22.4% in 2019 to 23% in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic being a contributor. In fact, Israel’s economy contracted 2.4% in 2020 resulting in high unemployment. Here is some information about the situation in Israel along with the efforts that some are initiating to eliminate poverty in Israel.

A History of Poverty

Before the pandemic began, Israel already had a history with its inhabitants living in poverty. At least 1.8 million people were living under the poverty line in 2018, with 841,000 of those people being children. Poverty among the elderly also increased from a staggering 17.2% to 18.8% in 2017. The standard of living has dipped significantly as well. The need for financial aid rose up to 70% in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The beginning of 2021 promised some growth in the economy. In December 2020, Israel began its vaccination inoculation drive, hoping to vaccinate 60,000 people a day to combat the coronavirus.

The Road to Recovery 

With the Israeli economy reopening and most of its people having received the COVID-19 vaccine, there have been about 400 infections, the lowest since June 2020, marking a three-month low. About 4.7 million people received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine. With most of its vulnerable population vaccinated, Israel started to emerge from its third national lockdown in February 2021.

While its economy is still starting to recover from the current lockdowns and it is slowly starting to ease restrictions, most of the middle class plunged into poverty due to the effects of the pandemic. With the surge of poverty in Israel, hope exists for those who are suffering from the pandemic’s catastrophic effects. Various groups and organizations have implemented solutions to help impoverished communities in Israel.

Israeli is using technology to help it solve its economic crisis. The IMPROVATE Innovative conference occurred in early 2021 in which Israeli innovation and technology companies met and discussed how their companies would assist in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis. The IMPROVATE Innovative launched in September 2020 to connect world leaders in the advancement of global progress. With the meetings taking place, it seems that technological advancements will play a role in helping to reshape Israel after its economic crisis.

Making a Change for the Better

An OECD Economic Survey of Israel from 2020 has identified solutions that can help eliminate poverty in Israel. Measures and reforms in the survey included upgrading infrastructure, improving educational outcomes, supporting the poor, simplifying taxes, reducing economic distortions and reducing health risks by improving the environment.

Nonprofit organizations have also stepped in to help with the economic disaster. One of the leading NGOs in the country, Latet, believes the Israeli government should be doing more to combat inequality and access to resources in Israel. Fortunately, other nonprofits exist that are aiding in the battle against poverty and are instrumental in helping Israel recover.

While COVID-19 put the people of Israel in poverty, millions received vaccinations and the economy is slowly reopening. Technology groups and NGOs are willing to put in the effort to help during the COVID-19 aftermath, aiding in efforts to eliminate poverty in Israel and improve its economy. 

Jose Ahumada
Photo: Flickr

Uncovering the Struggles and Successes of Argentinian Jews
While Argentinian Jews make up only 0.7% of the population, they have faced significant economic hardship and anti-semitism over the last few decades. Pre-COVID-19, more than one-quarter of the population lived below the poverty line. Additionally, lingering anti-semitism and an economy in a recession have made it nearly impossible for educated Jews to find high-paying jobs.

“Poverty affects Argentinians in general, not only Jewish people, as well as the economic ups and downs, [but] maybe the economic crisis and the inflation affects mostly to Jewish people because many of them are business people who see their businesses, incomes and savings damaged,” Sabri Toker, the coordinator for Onward Israel in Argentina, told The Borgen Project.

COVID-19 Deepens the Poverty Line

In 2020, Argentina faced a significant increase in poverty as COVID-19 deepened the country’s economic crisis. Due to strict lockdowns, Argentina’s poverty rate spiked to between 46% and 47% by the end of June 2020. This is in comparison to just 35.5% in the second half of 2019. The poverty line, drawn at $193 per month, is the reality for many of the 3.5 million people who experience lay-offs during the pandemic.

The pandemic has particularly impacted Argentina’s Jewish community as well, and expectations have determined that much of the community will make aliyah, or emigration, to Israel in 2021 due to economic concerns. In Argentina, a large part of the Jewish population falls into the middle class and has assimilated into Argentinian life. Like most of the country’s middle class, the country’s faulty economy harshly hit this subset. Under President Mauricio Macri, the economy has faced sharp inflation and the devaluation of the peso, which pushed 3.7 million Argentinians below the poverty line in a single year.

A History of Hardship

Anti-semitic attacks were frequent in Argentina prior to World War I. Then, Argentinian Jews faced pogroms following the Russian Revolution; in January 1919, hundreds of Jews experienced beatings and others burned or stole their property. Unable to find government or military work, Jews worked as farmers and shopkeepers. They lived modest lifestyles until the rise of Nazi sentiment in the country.

The rise of Nazism further limited employment and education opportunities for Argentinian Jews. On top of that, many lived in a state of fear and poverty. Argentine Presidents José Félix Uriburu and Agustín Pedro Justo led pro-Nazi regimes prior to World War II. This sentiment continued under Juan Peron, who allowed Argentina to become a safe haven for Nazis. Since Peron’s presidency, 45,000 Argentinian Jews have moved to Israel to escape anti-semitism and the economic struggles associated with low-skilled jobs. In 1960, Israeli agents captured Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires, which increased anti-semitism in Argentina. During a military junta called the Dirty War, hundreds of Jews suffered kidnap and torture.

Discrimination Contributes to Poverty

Anti-semitism reached new heights following two terrorist attacks under President Carlos Menem. Firstly, the Israeli Embassy bombing in 1992 killed 32 people. And secondly, the suicide van bomb attack on Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building in 1994 killed 87 people.

“We have discrimination in every environment we are involved in: Secondary school, university, at work, on daily life. It is not usual and an everyday thing, but it exists,” Toker said. “In my opinion, the Jewish community lost a lot of cultural aspects mostly in the last decades of the 20th century.”

By 2002, 24.8% lived in poverty, with an additional 7.5% of Argentinian Jews living in extreme poverty. During this time, banks like Banco Patricios and Banco Mayo collapsed, taking with them millions of dollars that the Jewish community owned. Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing many middle-class Jews below the poverty line. Very few Jews hold leadership positions in the military, foreign ministry, or judiciary. Efforts to reduce anti-semitism have picked up over the last decade, but anti-semitic attacks on rabbis and synagogues, including on the country’s chief rabbi Gabriel Davidovich in 2019, have not gone away.

Assisting Argentina’s Vulnerable Jewish Populations

President Alberto Fernández has worked to strengthen ties with Israel, hold terrorist groups accountable and rebuild the country’s Jewish population. After Argentina signed a decree that added Hezbollah to the registry of terrorist organizations, Argentina adopted the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, which sends a clear message that it will not tolerate any form of anti-semitism, including in the workplace.

Created in 1991, Fundación Tzedaká has worked to improve living conditions and job opportunities for Argentina’s impoverished Jews. More than 600 volunteers, 6,500 donors and almost 100 professionals dedicate themselves to the organization’s cause. The Fundación gives food aid to vulnerable families and offers healthcare and nutrition programs. Additionally, it provides housing subsidies and gives training and educational resources to vulnerable youth. In 2020, the organization launched the Guesher Assistance Program. The Program specifically assists people unable to afford food, housing and health needs during the pandemic.

One of Argentina’s Jewish community centers, the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), and the Argentine Jewish Schools Federation (FEJA) have also been instrumental in helping sustain schools in Argentina’s Jewish School Network. With many Jewish schools operating only part-time, concerns exist that school desertion could become a major issue. This is particularly concerning to the community as a similar phenomenon occurred during Argentina’s economic crisis two decades ago. AMIA and FEJA encourage monetary contributions to ensure that students not only receive proper education but also remain in the system. Because of this, students have the option to pursue more advanced studies.

Holding On and Moving Forward

Argentina’s Jewish community retained many of its cultural traditions despite its assimilation into the broader Argentinian middle class. “Nowadays we have places run by Orthodox, others by Conservative, others by Reform, every Jew has the possibility of choosing where to go, what to do, what to leave aside,” Toker said. “Those who really want to maintain cultural aspects do that because they want to leave to their children what they received from their grandparents.”

Despite lingering anti-semitism and increasing COVID-19 hardships, Argentinian Jews have not lost their culture. They continue to seek employment and fight against those who have for so long have suppressed their growth.

– Noah Sheidlower
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in IsraelIt is an indisputable fact that everyone needs food for survival. Even further, everyone needs enough nutritious food to truly thrive. That being true, the reality is that not everyone gets enough high-quality, nutritious food yet significant amounts of food are thrown away daily. This dilemma is present globally and Israel is no exception. Food waste and food insecurity in Israel is a growing problem, but one organization, Leket Israel, is working to address both.

Israel’s Food Dilemma

Food waste is an excess of food that usually gets thrown into landfills instead of being consumed. The amount of food wasted in Israel is striking, but possibly more striking is the economic impacts it has on individual and infrastructural levels.

The Environmental Protection Ministry in Israel cited that Israeli families throw away about $1,000 worth of food per year. This equates to $352 million in waste treatment and a month and a half of average household food expenses.

Food waste is present not only on the household level but also prominently in the restaurant and agricultural sectors. Remedying food waste would likely lift a considerable economic weight from the shoulders of many Israeli individuals and communities.

Remedying food insecurity in Israel would do the same. Food insecurity is widely considered as a lack of consistent access to balanced, nutritious food sources. Many in Israel suffer from food insecurity and the number continues to climb.

The Latet organization’s yearly Alternative Poverty Report revealed that the 20.1% of Israeli households in poverty grew to 29.3% in 2020 due to COVID-19.

So naturally, food insecurity has worsened because of the pandemic. The number of food-insecure households in Israel grew from 17.8% before the pandemic to 22.6% in December 2020. Further, the number of households in extreme food insecurity increased by 34,000 during the pandemic, per the National Insurance Institute of Israel.

There is a great need to address the dilemma of food waste and food insecurity in Israel.

Leket Israel

Leket Israel is an organization that recognizes the importance of addressing the increased need for more accessible food sources and reducing food waste. Joseph Gitler started an organization in 2003 that would become Leket Israel, a food bank and the largest food rescue chain in the country.

Specifically, Leket takes nutritional food excesses and distributes them to thousands of Israelis who need them. The food provided mostly consists of agricultural surpluses and gathered cooked meals that would become food waste, with special focus on the quality and nutritional value of the food distributed to beneficiaries across Israel.

Nutritional Education

Within food insecure populations that do not have access to reliable nutritious food, there can also be a lack of knowledge about balanced nutrition. For this reason, Leket Israel implements multiple nutrition workshops to make its impact and fight to promote food security more lasting. Nutritional workshops involve lessons on how to select and prepare diverse, healthy meals on a restricted budget. They are given in Hebrew, Amharic, Arabic and Russian to increase accessibility.

There is a greater demand for the work that Leket Israel is doing because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in food insecurity across Israel. The organization’s affirmative response to this demand is undeniable. Take, for example, the experience of Natalie Digora. During the pandemic, Leket Israel is helping people like Natalie Digora in Ramat Gan, Israel, who turned to the organization after being sent home from her occupation as an opera singer in March 2020. They have continued serving her.

Turning Food Trash into Food Treasure

Digora’s story is one of thousands. To date, Leket Israel has served more than 2,300,000 cooked meals to more than 200,000 individuals. As it continues this, turning one person’s trash into another’s treasure, Leket gives hope to people struggling with food insecurity in Israel.

– Claire Kirchner
Photo: Flickr

Innovations Reducing Poverty in IsraelDeveloping nations like Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Chad tend to capture global attention as the world’s most impoverished countries. While these countries take precedence in discussions regarding global poverty, with good reason, countries that one would not consider “impoverished” do exist outside the limelight. One of these countries is the state of Israel. However, innovations reducing poverty in Israel have changed the lives of many impoverished citizens.

Situated on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Israel has a population of 8.6 million people and an annual GDP of $350 billion as of 2017. As a global innovator in technology and science, it is often referred to as the “start-up nation”. One might assume that poverty would not plague a country with such a flourishing international economy. However, even people living in countries with strong economies experience poverty.

Poverty in Israel

The challenge of reducing poverty in Israel is at the forefront of low-priority socio-economic issues. The lack of attention can be attributed to the Israeli government’s focus on security. As of 2018, more than 21% of Israel’s population was living below the poverty line. One in three children across the state lives in poverty. For a country that has seen so much economic growth in the last decade alone, the idea that over a fifth of its citizens is unable to sustain themselves is hard to swallow. Nevertheless, several key factors explain just why the number of people living in poverty is so high.

Of those living beneath the poverty line in Israel, several social groups have been particularly affected. Single mothers constitute one group, though in recent years the percentage of Israeli single mothers in poverty has declined. Israel’s disabled population makes up another substantial group of its poor. The groups most significant and crucial to understanding Israel’s poor, however, include Orthodox Jews and Arab communities. Devoted to full-time religious study, many Orthodox Jews do not work and depend on state-issued pensions.

Discrimination in Israel’s social order and workplaces have contributed to the significant increase in unemployment in Arab communities. While these groups continue to struggle, a number of Israeli NGOs have produced innovations that are key to reducing poverty in Israel.

Pitchon-Lev

The largest humanitarian organization in the state of Israel, Pitchon-Lev, aids more than 168,000 Israelis per year. Its campaigns range from ensuring Israel’s children have enough food to lobbying for direct government aid for the poor. Pitchon-Lev’s success in combating poverty in Israel is due to innovation in a surprising arena: personal connections. Pitchon-Lev’s team of volunteers develop close and personal relationships with those whom they aid, giving the impoverished the friendships and tools they need to rebuild their lives. With its personal connections to the people it helps, Pitchon-Lev is truly striving towards reducing poverty in Israel.

Latet

In Hebrew, Latet means “to give,” and the NGO Latet does just that. As the head of Israel’s largest food bank, Latet is known for its continued fight against both poverty and hunger in Israel. Latet has aided a wide range of diverse groups, from Israel’s youth to Holocaust survivors. Its innovation in reducing poverty in Israel appears simple, but it is effective: promoting responsibility. Volunteers of the organization teach ideals of care for others and shared responsibility for the state of the country’s citizens. They aim to spread these values not only to those whom they assist, but also to the general Israeli public. By encouraging these ideals, Latet aims to push the issue of national poverty further into the public eye, and eventually into the government’s priorities as well.

Shalva

As previously mentioned, Israel’s disabled population makes up one of the largest groups of the country’s poor. As Israel’s leading NGO in the care of disabled persons, Shalva provides more than 2,000 services for disabled people in areas ranging from education to vocational training. Shalva’s innovation in combating poverty is perhaps the most important of all: promoting equal opportunity. All of Shalva’s programs are non-denominational. This provides disabled persons from all religious and social backgrounds the help they need to bring themselves out of poverty. Shalva has national recognition from the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services and the Ministry of Health. It continues to be one of Israel’s most innovative NGOs for citizens with special needs.

Despite its global success as an innovator in science and modern technology, Israel still has a long way to go in terms of prioritizing its own people over international beneficiaries. Thankfully, organizations such as Pitchon-Lev, Latet and Shalva have proven that this small nation is working toward a better future.
Alex Poran
Photo: Flickr

Israel's Foreign AidIsrael, a country 18 times smaller than California, is proving that size does not matter in terms of global impact. For decades, Israel has served as a trailblazer in technology, medicine, artificial intelligence and innovation. Golda Meir, Israel’s former Prime Minister, spearheaded a program called MASHAV in 1957. MASHAV is a Hebrew acronym for “Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation.” At its onset, MASHAV worked with countries in Africa and Asia. Today, MASHAV works with more than 130 countries like Ethiopia, Vietnam and Guatemala.

Natural Disaster Response

Among the most impactful of Israel’s foreign aid is the work with refugees, natural disasters and terrorism response. For example, in 1995, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, in collaboration with the Israeli Defense Force, created a humanitarian aid unit that executes operations worldwide. Israel has sent 24 delegations of Israel’s foreign aid team to 22 countries between 1985 and 2015.

Israel’s aid to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake is among the most respected of Israel’s foreign aid efforts. Israel, one of the first countries to send support to Haiti, set up makeshift hospitals and disaster relief tents. Israel’s teams sent more than 200 doctors and volunteers to treat those affected by the disaster directly at the scene. In less than two weeks, Israel’s foreign aid teams treated more than 1,000 Haitians, performed more than 300 successful surgeries, delivered 16 babies and rescued four lost individuals.

Start-Up Nation

Israel’s foreign aid capacity can be primarily attributed to its advanced technology. In 2019, Israel received the third-largest amount of funding from venture capitalist firms for various Israeli startups. The U.S. and China are the only countries that received more funding. In the last six years, annual investments have increased from $112 million to $650 million, with more than 250 active startups.

Among Israel’s startups are various medical companies working on COVID-19 innovations. For example, the Israel Innovation Authority is working to create a robotics partnership. This partnership will connect Israeli companies to South Korean companies to collaborate on coronavirus solutions. Additionally, with more than 600 investors and 100 companies working on COVID-19 technological solutions, the Israeli private sector is far more efficient than other companies and governments.

Most recently, Israel developed a sticker called the Maya to cover medical doctors’ masks to decrease their exposure to the virus. Made of a nanofiber material, the masks contain nanoscale pores that prevent the virus from attaching to the mask’s base. The virus itself is 130 nanometers, which is small enough to attach to standard masks. However, the Maya prevents such attachment. The U.S. and Europe are expected to approve the mask. In addition, there are currently plans to export the masks to Canada, Japan and Spain.

Israel’s foreign aid efforts span from natural disaster relief to cutting edge technological advances. The country’s global impact in comparison to it’s size is proving Israel to be a trailblazer in global aid and innovation.

Maya Sulkin

Photo: Pixabay

Israeli-UAE Peace AgreementIn recent decades, viewers have been bombarded by news of violence and dysfunction in the Middle East; however, on August 13, 2020, a different sort of headline broke. Instead of another bombing or raid, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) reached a peace agreement brokered by the United States. Although fighting over this area is nothing new, the Israel-UAE peace agreement may be a positive step in the right direction. In light of this momentous occasion, here are the top four things to know about the deal.

5 Facts About the Israel-UAE Peace Agreement

  1. What is the Israel-UAE Peace Agreement? In August 2020, the leader of Israel, the UAE and the United States met to discuss and break ground on initiatives to achieve stability in the Middle East region for the sake of each nation’s citizens and those of neighboring countries. The grit of this deal lies in its ability to prevent Israel’s annexation of the West Bank region, which the nation announced its intention to do earlier in the summer of 2020.
  2. What is the West Bank and why is it home to so much conflict. Tension in the region dates back to the early 20th century after Britain took control of the region. During this time, both Jewish and Palestinian groups were claiming the region as their home. After world war II, many Jewish people began flooding the region to escape from persecution in Europe. This influx would only increase the amount of violence between the two groups as well as British control. The British government continually attempted to draw a plan to please all sides of the conflict but were ultimately unable to do so. This led to the British authorities pulling out of the area in 1948, which then allowed Jewish leaders to declare the state of Israel. Following the creation of the new state, wars broke out. Jerusalem was divided between the area known as the West Bank, which was held by Palestinian forces, and Israeli forces to the East. No peace agreements were drawn up until recently, so the conflict has remained steady regardless of shifting forces.
  3. What implications could this have on the larger area? According to NPR, the only two nations in the Middle East with a diplomatic relationship with Israel are Jordan and Egypt. Given the lack of diplomatic connections holding the region together, violence has been a lasting component of the region. Though this agreement is between the UAE and Israel, Saudi Arabia is directly implicated in the deal as well. Altogether, this deal will draw at least three nations into a deal with one another that will hopefully de-escalate tensions and incentivize cooperation from other nations as well.
  4. What have organizations been doing? The Latet organization has been working in Israel to help mitigate the effects of poverty. According to a study the National Insurance Institute conducted in 2018, about 21.1% of the Israeli population lived below the poverty line. Moreover, almost 30% of those people are children. However, those in impoverished conditions reported to previously have been in the middle class. This indicates that previous socio-economic status has little to do with current placement. The amount of violence occurring between the two sides of this fight is destabilizing the region from a security standpoint. In the midst of this chaos, the Latet organization works to distribute food and other supplies in order to counteract the effects of poverty on individuals. It partners with different groups in order to distribute approximately $25-30 million worth of food to individuals throughout Israel.

The Middle East has been home to a lot of conflicts. However, the new Israel-UAE Peace Agreement gives many a reason to hope for a more peaceful future. The deal itself is only the first step in the right direction, which should help to promote a more peaceful world.

Allison Moss
Photo: Flickr

empowering women in Israel
Founded in 1925, NA’AMAT is an organization that provides support, education and service to Israeli women. The women who originally started the organization believed in equality: that women were equal to men and deserved equal chances at life. The organization began in New York with the purpose of empowering women in Israel. Eventually, the organization spread to nine countries in total.

Israeli women fought for the right to receive equal treatment in the workplace and community long before the 1960s feminism movement. They demanded respect for all they did as wives and mothers. NA’AMAT played a large role in providing resources for these women. Its mission statement reads: “[NA’AMAT provides] vital educational and social services for women, children and families in need, in Israel.” Here are three ways NA’AMAT fulfills its mission statement.

Nurturing Children

NA’AMAT has 200 facilities to provide childcare to over 17,000 children, so their parents are able to work. The families who enroll pay based on a sliding scale fee, depending on their income. Because so many families live below the poverty line, the NA’AMAT U.S.A. branch raises funds to help pay for these children to attend.

On top of providing early education, NA’AMAT is also a safe haven for children who have suffered abuse or neglect, become an orphan or experienced terrorism. These children receive counseling and special attention.

Empowering Women

In 2004, 18,000 women in Israel reported experiencing abuse, but authorities believe the actual number was closer to 140,000-200,000. One out of three women will experience sexual assault according to the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. However, most women with conservative or religious backgrounds do not file a complaint.

NA’AMAT focuses on empowering women in Israel by operating legal aid bureaus. Its purpose is to help women who have been victims of workplace discrimination and domestic abuse. It provides counseling and programs that give women a sense of pride and self-worth.

Education For At-Risk Youth

Not everyone without an education lives in poverty, but people who experience poverty are far more likely to not have an education. Education opens doors: it provides more job opportunities, helps fight gender inequality and allows people to develop social skills.

NA’AMAT provides education and vocational training for low-income children. Some of the schools are girls-only, and each student receives personalized care and attention. Whether the children have come from underrepresented groups in Israel or are migrants, NA’AMAT gives them a second chance at developing skills to contribute to society and feel a sense of empowerment.

Empowering women in Israel is a clear focus of the organization. Through NA’AMAT, Israeli women can progress forward in their lives. Whether they have been victims of abuse or neglect, the organization helps them stand on their own two feet. NA’AMAT gives women the support they’d otherwise lack with helping care for children, so they can have a career and provide for their families.

Each woman truly receives personalized care. Additionally, positive role models surround their children and provide support through their adolescence. With NA’AMAT on their side, Israeli women have had an ally for almost 100 years to help fight for equality for themselves and their children.

Tawney Smith
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Israel
Poverty in Israel impacts 469,400 families with around 1.8 million Israeli citizens living below the poverty line. Children make up 841,000 of the Israeli citizens in poverty, ranking second-most severe, next to Turkey. Poverty in Israel rose from 19.4% in 2017 to 20.4% in 2018 while child poverty rose 2% in those years from 27.1% to 29.1%. Luckily, there are groups looking to reduce child poverty by providing aid to those experiencing hunger. Several non-governmental agencies are working to collect, preserve and distribute food in the country.

Nutrition Among Impoverished Children in Israel

Child poverty in Israel results in children not receiving proper nutrition and reaching their full potential. Welfare services are in place for children who live in extreme poverty in Israel. In 2018, there were 2,934,000 children in Israel. Of these children, poverty affected 14% or 400,000. Families with more children are more likely to experience poverty. In fact, families with an average of five children or more account for two-thirds of child poverty in Israel. Meanwhile, poverty affects 25% of single-family households in Israel. Families who have immigrated from other countries since 1990 account for 16% of all children who are on the welfare support system and about 57.8% of Arab children live in poverty.

State support for child poverty in Israel lacks the nutritional diversity necessary to sustain proper growth and development. About 76.3% of children receiving nutritional support receive only bread and condiments. Meanwhile, reports have determined that 54.5% of children in poverty in Israel have smaller meals than required for proper nutrition or have skipped meals altogether.

The Work of Latet

Latet, meaning “To Give,” works to eliminate child poverty in Israel. Latet has been working to restore dignity and feed families in Israel for more than 20 years. Latet supervises 180 local organizations in Israel aimed at helping Israeli citizens sustain food supply via means of a food bank and other aid programs that attempt to reduce child poverty in Israel. Latet provides assistance to more than 60,000 families monthly by salvaging food that may have otherwise gone to waste. It collects food from grocery stores, food manufacturers and food distributors before sending it to its distribution center. There, the organization sorts, packages and distributes the food to families in need. Latet owns a fleet of trucks for distribution, which occurs to preserve the dignity of families who are able to benefit from the organization’s services.

Latet maintains economic efficiency by maximizing benefits to families. For every one shekel that it attributes to costs of gathering and transporting food, it obtains and distributes nine shekels worth of food. About 19,100 volunteers have provided 452,000 hours of aid that assist child poverty in Israel. Latet has successfully salvaged $25,000,000 in food annually that would have otherwise gone to waste, and distributed it to families in need. Because of the strategic partnership that Latet has with food supply chains in Israel, it has been able to successfully supply much-needed food to help fight child poverty in Israel.

Non-governmental agencies such as Latet are continuing the fight against child poverty in Israel. It is striving to gain support and momentum both in Israel and abroad. The Alternative Poverty Report, which Latet distributes, keeps track of progress and provides different statistics to bring to light the severity of issues of poverty in Israel. The organization has thousands of volunteers and has large public displays to help raise awareness to provide aid to the issue of Israel’s child poverty.

– Carolyn Lyrenmann
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