A Threat from Within

By Jane Eisner

Forward Association, August 18, 2010

In May 2010, Israel was invited to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a 31-nation club of the world’s most elite, developed economies. Acceptance means that Israel can now access sources of capital investment available only to developed countries. But it means something even more rewarding: It’s a legitimization of the tiny country’s economic strength and innovation capacity. 

But the “start-up nation” narrative hides another story: Poverty in Israel is more widespread than in any of the other OECD countries, worse than even Turkey and Mexico. Almost one in five Israelis live in poverty, according to OECD guidelines; for children, the rate is nearly one in three. This economic inequality, among the highest in the world, poses a serious danger to Israeli society beyond that caused by war or terrorism. Poverty in Israel is a direct result of non-employment, the fact that many Israelis will not or cannot work. The two largest segments of citizens outside the labor force are Haredi men, 67% of whom study full-time, helped by government subsidy, and Arab women, 80% of whom are at home, prevented by culture and discrimination from participating in the workforce. A government report issued in July said that Haredi unemployment alone will cost the Israeli economy $1.55 billion in 2010 — 300% higher than the comparable cost in 2000.

Part 2 of this series is available here.


Topic: Socioeconomic Status, Poverty, Economy, Employment, Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) Judaism, Economic Development, Jobs

Name of Publication: Jewish Daily Forward

Editor: Eisner, Jane

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Genre: Article

Coverage: Israel

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Eisner, Jane. A Threat from Within. Jewish Daily Forward. Forward Association. 18 August 2010: http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=11669


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