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Tel Aviv - 'Israel Falling Behind Western Living Standards'

Published on: November 27, 2012 10:23 PM
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Doughnuts (sofganiot) on sale at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. November 28, 2012. Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASH90Doughnuts (sofganiot) on sale at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, for the upcoming Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. November 28, 2012. Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASH90

Tel Aviv - The Taub Center released its annual State of the Nation Report for 2011-2012 on Tuesday morning, which according to the organization, paints “a troubling picture of the way Israeli governments have thus far dealt with Israel’s primary socioeconomic problems.”

The document is divided into various chapters, examining public policy in five research fields: economics, labor, welfare, education and health. The data collected showed that Israel is falling behind Western living standards.

First, the country’s labor productivity in 2011, which was measured by looking at its GDP, was found to be in the lower echelon of the OECD countries, just behind Greece.

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This result is surprising when one considers the local universities and hi-tech industry for which Israel is known, which have long been described as being at the forefront of human knowledge.

Secondly, it was revealed that despite relatively low unemployment rates in Israel, employment gaps between Israel and the leading western countries are much more significant today than they were three decades ago.

The report also concluded that the interest payments that Israel paid on its debt last year are higher than the country’s entire education budget.

“Although Israel’s debt-GDP ratio is low compared to the West, its interest payments are among the highest – totaling more than its entire education budget last year, and double the health budget,” the document states.

In addressing the July 2011 social protests, the report shows a “collapse in the relative economic standing of young Israeli families.”

It states that this demographic’s position in society as a whole has dropped in recent years.

In addition, salaries have significantly declined for people living in the Center, a larger share of 25 to 34-year-olds is living with their parents, compared to a decade ago. The data also suggests a substantial drop in home ownership rates among the young middle and upper classes.

A recent study released last month by the National Union of Israeli Students also showed that the average amount of financial help given to students by their parents in 2012 reached NIS 14,355, a 15 percent increase from the year before.

According to Taub Center head Prof. Dan Ben-David, “Last summer’s protests represent only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to challenges faced by Israel in the realms of labor, productivity, education and income gaps. Without a change in national priorities, Israel will remain on trajectories that are not sustainable over the long-term.”

As far as education goes, the findings showed that while the number of annual instruction hours in Israel’s education system is greater than in most western countries, the achievements in core subjects is lower.

A smaller percentage of Jewish children is learning in preschools, elementary schools and secondary schools than in 1995, a number likely to change next year considering that preschool education for three and four-year-olds was made free three months ago and kindergarten staff have already reported an overload of work.

According the the data, the number of children in nonreligious elementary schools in the country has grown by 0.3% over the past decade. In religious schools, it has grown by 11% and Arab-Israeli schools have seen an increase in students by 37%. But the most significant growth applies to ultra-Orthodox schools where the number of students increased by 57% in the past decade.

However, the document also states that “the achievements of haredi and Arab children in core subject areas are below those of third-world countries,” raising concern over their “preparedness to function in a modern economy when they grow up.”

Furthermore, the Taub Center’s researchers agreed that education is the primary determinant for employment in Israel, based on data showing that a very small amount of Israel’s population, including the Arab-Israeli community, are employed without possessing an academic education.

The health and social welfare sectors also revealed some significant new data showing that Israeli Jews have one of the highest life expectancies in the world. For Arab Israelis, while their life expectancy is lower than in most western countries, it is still higher than it is in the United States and even in Arab countries.

Israel also spent less on public welfare than the leading western countries in the past year, a phenomenon that seems to be ongoing for the past few years. The country also spends less on benefits for unemployed citizens than its European counterparts.

The same goes for the amount spent on the elderly, which is relatively low in Israel.

In the opening chapter of the report, Ben-David wrote: “The current macroeconomic picture in Israel may appear to be currently rosy in relative terms.

“The main problem,” he stated, “is not how the country is faring vis-a-vis countries currently experiencing a downturn, but rather Israel’s problematic long-run trajectories.

These trajectories reflect slower rates of economic growth than those in leading developed countries over the long-term.”

“The implication of this is clear: Though it has been rising in absolute terms during the past several decades, Israel’s standard of living has been falling further and further behind, in relative terms, the living standards in the leading western countries,” Ben-David explained.

Labor party head Shelly Yacimovich said Tuesday that the report was a “serious scientific indictment” against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s economic policy. “Beyond the fact that it emphasizes problems serious and well-known problems - social inequality, unfair taxation and failed privatization - we are now witness the fact that the future is now in jeopardy. The study states clearly that there is no industrial horizon for young academics and that their salaries will continue to erode. If the youth were holding on to anything, it was their hope, and this morning that too has vanished, as long as Netanyahu continues to govern.”

Yacimovich added that her Labor party would present an robust alternative to Netanyahu’s economic policy within the coming days.


Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post


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1

 Nov 27, 2012 at 11:19 PM proud-mo-israeli Says:

We don't live in the Jewish State for it's "Western Living Standards". If you need your Jersey Shore & Starbucks then please stay in America

2

 Nov 27, 2012 at 11:38 PM One More Thing Says:

They forgot to mention that the iPhone 5 has yet to come to Israel :)

3

 Nov 27, 2012 at 11:57 PM lazerx Says:

I live in Israel for past 34 years and visit USA every year. Israel has come up in living standards very much. Things are more expensive here but quality of living, meaning going outside with out fear of being mugged are much better here than USA. I see USA deteriorating both financially and morally.

4

 Nov 28, 2012 at 02:08 AM GEULA Says:

Agree with #1 and #3
Life here is calm, life here is peaceful, fulfilling, special, uplifting. When u leave all the government issues (preschool politics) out of ur life and focus on the kedusha, honor to be here and its simplicity; u only see a beautiful happy and heilige place.

5

 Nov 28, 2012 at 02:39 AM Anonymous Says:

if its so bad there how come rents there in tel aviv and in the entire area around it are higher than nyc rents

6

 Nov 28, 2012 at 06:16 AM Mendelowitz Says:

To #3-Lazerx- You stated that "you see th USA deteriorating both financially and morally". If the USA was deteriorating financially, how is it that billions of dollars in aid, are sent to EY each year, by the US Goverment? This aid has continued for decades. Regarding "fear of getting mugged", do you think that there is no violence in your society? There was a 60 year old American-Israeli was was recently kinfed and killed in Yerushalayim by a gang of young Israeli muggers, who killed him for cigarettes! Also, there was an American Jewish tourist by the Kinneret, who was also attacked and beaten by a gang of Israelis, who fled the scene. Please don't try to imply that your society is a utopia, as it is not!

7

 Nov 28, 2012 at 07:09 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
proud-mo-israeli Says:

We don't live in the Jewish State for it's "Western Living Standards". If you need your Jersey Shore & Starbucks then please stay in America

We manage to have that and to subsidize you too.

8

 Nov 28, 2012 at 08:56 AM Shtarker Says:

Reply to #4  
GEULA Says:

Agree with #1 and #3
Life here is calm, life here is peaceful, fulfilling, special, uplifting. When u leave all the government issues (preschool politics) out of ur life and focus on the kedusha, honor to be here and its simplicity; u only see a beautiful happy and heilige place.

"u only see a beautiful happy and heilige place."
I see a place where so-called frum yidden treat other Jews with contempt; where women are subjugated; where rabbonim put each other in cherem; where living off the government is the norm; where it's okay to despise the country you live in; and where all manner of thievery and desecration are carried on in the name of the Torah.

9

 Nov 28, 2012 at 08:59 AM pbalaw Says:

Reply to #6  
Mendelowitz Says:

To #3-Lazerx- You stated that "you see th USA deteriorating both financially and morally". If the USA was deteriorating financially, how is it that billions of dollars in aid, are sent to EY each year, by the US Goverment? This aid has continued for decades. Regarding "fear of getting mugged", do you think that there is no violence in your society? There was a 60 year old American-Israeli was was recently kinfed and killed in Yerushalayim by a gang of young Israeli muggers, who killed him for cigarettes! Also, there was an American Jewish tourist by the Kinneret, who was also attacked and beaten by a gang of Israelis, who fled the scene. Please don't try to imply that your society is a utopia, as it is not!

The USA doesn't have the money to give, we are 16+ trill in debt ... We keep printing money... Don't think just because we give EY billions a year it means we are doing well.

10

 Nov 28, 2012 at 11:18 AM Kzler Says:

Reply to #6  
Mendelowitz Says:

To #3-Lazerx- You stated that "you see th USA deteriorating both financially and morally". If the USA was deteriorating financially, how is it that billions of dollars in aid, are sent to EY each year, by the US Goverment? This aid has continued for decades. Regarding "fear of getting mugged", do you think that there is no violence in your society? There was a 60 year old American-Israeli was was recently kinfed and killed in Yerushalayim by a gang of young Israeli muggers, who killed him for cigarettes! Also, there was an American Jewish tourist by the Kinneret, who was also attacked and beaten by a gang of Israelis, who fled the scene. Please don't try to imply that your society is a utopia, as it is not!

No this society is not an utopia but your society has a sociological dichotomy. There are fine bearded Jews who wish the demise of the government but receivde subsidies from the godless Tzionym, others are safely nasconds in higher institutes of talmudic learning living off from their American parents/relatives, other billionaires owner of Dan Hotel chain and Elbit and a new emigree very ethical American billionaire emigree living off harlotry and then there are others who live in poverty and come from dysfunctional homes. There is a divide in your society luxury condos in Tel-Aviv and hovels in mea shiurim and in other villages. Israelis vacationing in South America and Napal and other fancy vacation spots and Israelis coming here to collect for supports of soup kitchens, Mr; Natanyahu friend of millionaire Romney. Give a closer look at the economic divide and then pontificate. Of course then there are these chilonim , liking basar chalav and serve in the IDF and of course with the recruits from Chesda Yishovos. I know a little but it is a long way from the apikores D. Ben-Gurion who created the Tnuva and other fairer institutions .

11

 Nov 28, 2012 at 11:21 AM American Yid Says:

Reply to #8  
Shtarker Says:

"u only see a beautiful happy and heilige place."
I see a place where so-called frum yidden treat other Jews with contempt; where women are subjugated; where rabbonim put each other in cherem; where living off the government is the norm; where it's okay to despise the country you live in; and where all manner of thievery and desecration are carried on in the name of the Torah.

And everyone of these are true in the US + no kedusha at all.

12

 Nov 28, 2012 at 11:42 AM Kzler Says:

Reply to #8  
Shtarker Says:

"u only see a beautiful happy and heilige place."
I see a place where so-called frum yidden treat other Jews with contempt; where women are subjugated; where rabbonim put each other in cherem; where living off the government is the norm; where it's okay to despise the country you live in; and where all manner of thievery and desecration are carried on in the name of the Torah.

Well said a man living in Yerushulayim , full garb payes and white yarmulke identified himself in the Spiegel with his name Krauss prays for the demise of the State of Israel and another group wished Mr. Ahminijad bracha v'hatzlocha and you are absolutely right all in the name of "torah". The communists were they masters of brain washing but seminaries in Israel tell their students not to attend college and the preacher of this wisdom a lady holds a Ph D.

13

 Nov 28, 2012 at 12:24 PM Michael BarDaniel Says:

to #6,#7
ולפי שהוציא את עצמו מן הכלל כפר בעיקר
Remember 80% of the Jews perished in Egypt (about 15 million) simply because they were too comfortable in Golus to want to leave. There were people before you who spoke bad about the land and they died in agony (the meraglim). Dasan & Aviram spoke about how marvellous it was in Egypt and they didn't too well for themselves either.

to #8
There were two men in prison, one saw the bars, the other saw the sunrise. Don't denigrate Eretz Yisrael because society isn't perfect. Love the land that Hashem's Eyes are on it the entire year, the land that Moshe Rabeinu davened 515 tefilos to enter, the land that a large fraction of the Mitzvos involve the land.
שמחו את ירושלם וגילו בה כל אהביה שישו אתה משוש כל המתאבלים עליה

14

 Nov 28, 2012 at 12:32 PM si girl Says:

A very useful article. Closing eyes on real problems would not solve them. Israel is a country to be admired but has critical socioeconomic issues long term. Article mentions almost all of them: unemployment among heredim and Arabs, (an explosive issue long term considering birthrate), extremely expensive real estate and lack of affordable housing, lack of future prospects for young people with master degrees( descrepancy between their expectations and what Israeli Economy can offer to them), lack of research and academic positions for talented scientists, and one of the most dangerous one is low quality of secondary education particularly among heredim but also in public schools (the most absorbent years in child's development)

15

 Nov 28, 2012 at 12:51 PM esther Says:

Reply to #6  
Mendelowitz Says:

To #3-Lazerx- You stated that "you see th USA deteriorating both financially and morally". If the USA was deteriorating financially, how is it that billions of dollars in aid, are sent to EY each year, by the US Goverment? This aid has continued for decades. Regarding "fear of getting mugged", do you think that there is no violence in your society? There was a 60 year old American-Israeli was was recently kinfed and killed in Yerushalayim by a gang of young Israeli muggers, who killed him for cigarettes! Also, there was an American Jewish tourist by the Kinneret, who was also attacked and beaten by a gang of Israelis, who fled the scene. Please don't try to imply that your society is a utopia, as it is not!

my friends in ey tell me kids can go out bike riding till late in the evening,like when i was kid here in the 60's. why does it bother you that it's take safer there?

16

 Nov 28, 2012 at 12:54 PM esther Says:

Reply to #8  
Shtarker Says:

"u only see a beautiful happy and heilige place."
I see a place where so-called frum yidden treat other Jews with contempt; where women are subjugated; where rabbonim put each other in cherem; where living off the government is the norm; where it's okay to despise the country you live in; and where all manner of thievery and desecration are carried on in the name of the Torah.

you don't see any good in ey? try looking with your other eye a little.sheesh.

17

 Nov 28, 2012 at 02:06 PM Geiger Says:

To Esther-#15- In Netanya, tourists were warned to stay off the beach in the evening, because of possible criminal activity. There are also other undesirable areas to stay away from in EY, and I'm not referring to Arab areas. Also, it is irresponsible for parents to let thei childrm go bike riding by themselves in the evening, no matter how "safe" the neighborhood is.

To Michael Bar-Daniel-#13- Look, we've heard these dire predictions before, that those of us living in Golus (the USA), would be blamed for an economic recession, and the goyim would come after us. Well, guess what-we've survived the worst recession since the Great Depression, and there were no pogroms here, and nobody came after us. Yes, there are still problems here, but we have absolute freedom of religion, we are free to criticize our beloved government, and preventive detention, without charges, against American citizens, is not permitted. We have the best highway system, the best telephone system, and a land abundant with natural resources. Evidently, the 250,000 Israelis (or more), who are Yordim agree with my statement, as many of them have lived here for decades, and I don't see them rushing to return.

18

 Nov 28, 2012 at 08:09 PM torahtrance Says:

I just read this article and it stirred me up. I know seriously over 10 young baalei teshuva families who were completely dedicated to living in Israel - but had to leave. After being treated like dogs by mainstream society (haredim are leeches we hear all day long) we would work any job to provide, got nothing from the gov't instead the gov't worked hard to collect as much money as they could. The situation in Israel is horrific. Many friends of mine live now 5 minutes from me here in Toronto we live with dignity and respect. Israel is a country with a lot of achievements but we must seperate the LAND from the state. The state is disgusting. Corrupt beyond belief. Its all one big game over there. Everyone in the loop helps their friends they call it "combinot". I hate hearing the fat ones in america talk about their life there its sickening. I cry everyday that I should have a good matzav enough to return to Israel so does all my friends, but over our dead bodies will we return to that poverty, poverty that I KNOW many of my friends still suffer from. Keep it up guys! OH btw, charedim want to work but the state banned them unless they went thru yiddishkeit cleansing systems. EMES!

19

 Nov 29, 2012 at 05:34 AM Michael BarDaniel Says:

Reply to #17  
Geiger Says:

To Esther-#15- In Netanya, tourists were warned to stay off the beach in the evening, because of possible criminal activity. There are also other undesirable areas to stay away from in EY, and I'm not referring to Arab areas. Also, it is irresponsible for parents to let thei childrm go bike riding by themselves in the evening, no matter how "safe" the neighborhood is.

To Michael Bar-Daniel-#13- Look, we've heard these dire predictions before, that those of us living in Golus (the USA), would be blamed for an economic recession, and the goyim would come after us. Well, guess what-we've survived the worst recession since the Great Depression, and there were no pogroms here, and nobody came after us. Yes, there are still problems here, but we have absolute freedom of religion, we are free to criticize our beloved government, and preventive detention, without charges, against American citizens, is not permitted. We have the best highway system, the best telephone system, and a land abundant with natural resources. Evidently, the 250,000 Israelis (or more), who are Yordim agree with my statement, as many of them have lived here for decades, and I don't see them rushing to return.

to #17 Geiger: My strong statements were not directed at those who live in Chutz la'aretz but to those who describe Eretz Yisrael with disdain. Those who perished in Golus were those who didn't desire the Geula, but rather chose to make physical comfort the be all and end all.

20

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