poverty in JerusalemThe period between 2014 and 2016 proved to be an especially difficult time for the people of Jerusalem. It was reported that in 2014, 82 percent of East Jerusalem lived in poverty, while in 2016, about four out of five East Jerusalemites were living in a vulnerable situation.  

How Did Poverty in Jerusalem Reach Its Present Levels?

According to the Jerusalem Post and Naomi Hausman, poverty in Jerusalem increased due to the unique disparities in its population. 61 percent of its people are Jewish (30 percent of whom are ultra-Orthodox), 36 percent are Arab and the remaining 3 percent are Christian-Arab or another minority. Hausman states that different educational standards and work ethics between groups have caused a social and economic divide, while both groups are willing to work for a lower rate. However, there are a few ways to help combat poverty in Jerusalem to create a safer environment for its people.

Tsidkat-Elaou Organization

The Tsidkat-Elaou Organization is a sanctuary that provides resources for those in Jerusalem experiencing and living in hardship. Tsidkat-Elaou has been fighting poverty in Jerusalem by taking donations to providing necessities for children, such as school supplies, food and clothes, provides financial aid vouchers, organizes altruistic events and contributes goods for Shabbat and other Jewish celebrations such as Passover and Rosh Hashanah. Tsidkat-Elaou also provides a safe space for those who would like to study or worship through building their synagogue, Ohr Yaacov Velsraёl. Tsidkat-Elaou is truly a key part of fighting poverty in Jerusalem.

School Improvement Program

Funded by USAID, the School Improvement Program (SIP) has budgeted $20 million over four years to invigorate school leadership, improve the quality of teachers and promote community engagement within 50 schools in areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Each school will undergo pervasive assessment strategies to identify the underachieving schools. Once the list of institutions is complete, SIP and USAID will host district-wide events with parents, teachers, students and other members of the community to get them engaged in the educational journey. The School Improvement Program will not only improve educational tactics, but will also provide career guidance and experiential training as well as vital life skills training.

Facilitating Access to Infrastructure Resilience (FAIR)

The FAIR Program was put into action by the Ministry of Local Government (MoLG) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The project will aid national institutions in addressing infrastructure concerns and provide access to viable, equitable and affordable industrialization to decrease poverty in Jerusalem. These infrastructure plans will concentrate on housing, cultural heritage, energy, transportation and water. MoLG and the UNDP are hoping this will strengthen communities and improve living standards while preserving their existence.

Partnering with the FAIR program, the Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People and the Royal Charity Organization – Kingdom of Bahrain are establishing a public library in East Jerusalem for $517,880. Their hope for this library is to renew the position of culture within East Jerusalem by promoting national identity. The plan is to remodel and restructure an old building in the Old City of Jerusalem in the area of Aqbat Risas. The library will be equipped with books, furnishings, IT equipment, a library system and a website where the library catalog can be accessed.

Enduring years and generations of war and turmoil, Jerusalem has definitely seen hardship and fallen on difficult times. Through education, infrastructure and an increase in appreciation for their culture and heritage, poverty in Jerusalem is sure to decrease throughout the next few years, rebuilding social status and enriching traditions.

– Rebecca Lee
Photo: Unsplash

Learn more about poverty in Israel


Poverty in Israel
Israel has a population of about 1.7 million people. Poverty in Israel affected about 22 percent of those people in 2014, which included 1,709,300 people, 444,900 families and 776,500 children. These rates have been rising ever since. This same year, the depth of poverty index, which refers to the gap between family income and the poverty line, also rose by about six percent. Poverty in Israel ranks second highest among OECD countries, just behind Mexico.

Little is done to combat poverty in Israel because the poor are of little interest to the government. The government’s main concern is with promoting the rich and the middle class in the country. The suffering of thousands poses a threat to the social resilience of the country, which means the government must take action.

Families with children are more likely to live in poverty in Israel due to the decrease in allowances. They are being stripped of these rights and in turn, Israel ranks fourth for highest child poverty rates.

These poverty rates can be linked back to several causes: low wages and unemployment rates in particular. It is possible that poor education is the root of these low wages and unemployment rates along with the already impoverished state of the country. The high cost of food, gas, utilities and rent are forcing more people into poverty in Israel. Emergency food has become an increasing demand as prices rise.

The Israeli government has created a couple of goals to reduce poverty after the National Insurance Institute released a report. The country’s Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, decided to revamp the corporate tax rates and give government aid to poor families. The corporate tax rate was cut by 1.5 percent by the cabinet, who unanimously approved this in November.

In addition, Israel has discussed the introduction of a welfare system that could bring income and take 187,000 people out of poverty. These efforts are promising but still not grand enough to save all of Israel. To make an impact, the country must focus on reorganizing its education system, and the government needs to take interest in the poor citizens, not just in the higher class.

Katelynn Kenworthy

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Israel
Poverty in Israel is widespread despite the nation’s booming economy. Approximately 22 percent of the population, or one in five Israelis, live in poverty according to a report by the National Insurance Institute in 2015. Among developed nations, Israel has the highest poverty rate, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The statistics on poverty differ depending on family structure. As the report establishes, families with children are more likely to be in poverty, with the rate holding at about 23 percent. Such is especially true for single-parent families or families with only one working parent. The rates also differ based on population group, with ultra-Orthodox families seeing a poverty rate of about 49 percent and Arab families about 53 percent.

Furthermore, a discrepancy exists due to age, with approximately 30 percent of children and 22 percent of the elderly living in poverty. Leket Israel food bank CEO Gidi Kroch said, “Israel is the poorest of the Western countries, with the widest gaps between the rich and the poor — a situation where the weakest populations, the elderly and children are suffering the most.”

Although the causes of such poverty are mixed, it can be attributed in part to low wages and employment rates, which may stem from poor education. In response to this impoverishment, the Israeli government has introduced a number of measures. Child benefits and the minimum wage have both been increased, leading to an advance in familial income. As for the elderly, welfare and disability allowances have also increased.

However, Israel’s welfare minister Haim Katz contends that welfare and tax benefit increases are not drastic enough. Average salary, as Katz points out, does not determine welfare benefits. He plans on changing this, declaring: “If we linked income support to average salaries we would immediately remove 187,000 from poverty.”

In addition to adapting the welfare system, the Israeli government should pursue a better standard of education. Regardless of which measures the government pursues, it is evident that poverty in Israel must be addressed immediately. “If things continue as they are,” Israeli economist Dan Ben-David reports, “we are heading to a third-world economy.”

Gigi DeLorenzo

Photo: Flickr