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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

Poverty in Israel
Israel is a country known for its wide ethics and religious diversity. However, it has one of the highest rates of poverty among developed countries. In fact, about 1.8 million people in Israel live in poverty, and that number rose from 19.4% of the population in 2017 to 20.4% in 2018. Of the 1.8 million people, 874,000 are children. Child poverty grew by 50% between 2008 and 2005 in Israel, and while the poverty rate has remained largely the same since 2005, Israel still has one of the highest rates of poverty in the developed world. With the amount of Israelites in poverty steadily increasing over the years, there are many ways to address the growing number of families and children living in poverty in Israel through various organizations and targeted relief efforts.

Statistics about Poverty in Israel

The socioeconomic divide is steadily increasing in Israel, with the divide between wealthy and low-income neighborhoods becoming more drastic. Additionally, previous legislative measures did not address poverty in the long-term, and focused more on tax cuts rather than implementing social welfare programs that help poverty on a systemic level. In an interview with The Borgen Project, Anna Rajagopal, a student at Austin University and a Jewish and multiethnic educator, pointed out that “getting diaspora jews involved in donations, involved in monetary programs, involved in helping with financial aid and financial needs” is the best way to address poverty within smaller groups.

Rajagopal works to spread awareness about various issues plaguing Israelites and the Jewish community, such as anti-semitism and poverty. She noted that Orthodox Jews and Arabs are the ones poverty most disproportionately affects, and keeping their interests in mind is important for poverty alleviation efforts. In fact, 47% of the Arab population in Israel live in poverty, along with 45% of Orthodox households. Rajagopal also noted that poverty in Israel most often affects minorities and communities of color.

Movements and NGOs Targeting Poverty

Alongside these points, grassroots work has occurred to alleviate poverty in Israel by providing medical care, proper housing and other basic needs. One such organization working to provide aid is the Latet organization, which works to combat food insecurity among vulnerable groups, like the elderly, through a food bank and various financial assistance programs. Alongside these efforts, Latet has created youth programs to foster a sense of community. Its advocacy efforts are helping many poor people in Israel find support while spreading awareness of this issue to other countries.

Lastly, Rajagopal mentioned a more grassroots form of aid through a woman named Bracha Kappach, an Israelite woman who has worked towards poverty reduction efforts in Israel for the past 40 years. She operates on a small scale and opens her home to anybody who needs food or other financial assistance.

With this increasing awareness of Israel’s precarious situation, the government is working to increase the employment rate and make changes to the existing welfare program so that laborers can find jobs. Rajagopal’s insight into how the Israeli government can properly address poverty also includes involving multiethnic Jews in the conversation, because others often forget and villainize them when it comes to their portrayal in the media. “In fitting needs, there are ways to do it in which alienation wouldn’t be the forefront,” Rajagopal says. She believes that incorporating religious efforts will provide unity and highlight more poverty reduction efforts.

Conclusion

Israel remains entangled in a conflict with Palestine, which has shifted the focus away from poverty reduction for the time being. As such, organizations and grassroots movements like Haverim and Latet, and the work of individuals such as Kappach are primarily focusing on redirecting efforts towards helping the poor, and are especially important for providing essential aid and supplies for the most vulnerable parts of the population. These efforts in Israel prove that targeted aid and addressing the sociopolitical and religious identities of the Israeli and Jewish populations are essential to mitigating poverty in Israel in the long run.

– Xenia Gonikberg
Photo: Flickr