Monday, May 20, 2013

Israel ranked 5th in gap between rich & poor

It was common for Zionists even up to the 1970s to boast that Israel, with its kibbutzim, was a socialist country--but of course, they’ve long since dropped that claim like a hot potato. Last week the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) released a report ranking Israel 5th among countries with the widest gap between rich & poor (after Chile, Mexico, Turkey & the US) & the highest poverty rate among OECD countries. The data showed Israel’s poverty rate at close to 21% of the population in 2011 (compared to an 11% average in the other countries). According to a member of the Knesset, those worst affected are children & elderly. In fact, the OECD reports the child poverty rate for all OECD countries as just over 13% but in Israel it is nearly 29%, with the 4th largest rise in child poverty between 2007-2011.

Last week it was also reported that Netanyahu spent $127,000 of public funds on a customized sleeping cabin in an El Al plane for the five-hour flight to attend Thatcher's funeral. That scandal follows on the heels of a report that under Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister, household spending on his official & private residences grew by 80%, including food & hosting expenses, cleaning, wardrobe, shoes, makeup & hair treatment, & a special budget for high-end ice cream. The scoop on Netanyahu is from an Israeli watchdog group reported in Israeli media.

The OECD, a think tank representing 34 countries, is a staunch partisan of neoliberal austerity policies that have exacerbated inequities & human immiseration all over the planet; it’s set up to facilitate neoliberal policies. OECD secretary-general & international banker Angel Gurría is a real wisecracker. He says the findings highlight the need to protect society’s most vulnerable & not neglect fairness while they go about installing draconian austerity measures. There’d be a place for the guy on the “Colbert Report” or “Saturday Night Live” except what really concerns Señor Gurría is the increasing massive & international opposition to the predations of neoliberal policies.

In this photo, an elderly Israeli man begs in a market place in Jerusalem. He’s too old to serve in the Israeli army, no longer a match for Palestinian activists, & thus no use to the Zionist regime. But the growing political cleavage between rich & poor can shake up the thinking of young Israelis & lead them to rethink the promises & projects of Zionism. Or they can blame it all on the Palestinians. The divide is more than between rich & poor & the stakes are high.

(Photo by Abir Sultan/EP)

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