The OECD found that Israel’s poverty rate stands as almost 21%.
It also put Israel at fifth place among countries with the widest gaps between rich and poor, after Chile, Mexico, Turkey and the United States, while Iceland, Slovenia, Norway and Denmark were the most egalitarian societies.
A growing divide between rich and poor risks will yawn still wider if cash-strapped governments keep cutting back the welfare state, the Paris-based think-tank warned.
Excluding social transfers and taxes, income inequality rose more in the three years to the end of 2010 than in the previous 12 years, a report by the Paris-based think-tank found.
With many developed countries facing the pinch of austerity, economic inequality has become a hot topic especially after an ECB study found that households in many peripheral euro zone countries are on average wealthier than those in the bloc’s core due to higher levels of home ownership.
The study said the pain of the crisis was unevenly spread. Poorer households either lost more income from the recession or benefited less from the recovery. Children and young people suffered more than the elderly, whose incomes were relatively immune.
-www.jpost.com, 15 May 2013
At the beginning, Israel was an egalitarian society. The backbone of the country was the Kibbutz movement, where all people shared equally, based on the communist philosophy. But that was 65 years ago. Today, Israel has become an economically strong nation envied by its Arab neighbors. While Israel considers itself a socialist state, these statistics reveal a large segment of the population who live at or below the poverty line.
Here is what the Bible says about the poor, “For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land” (Deuteronomy 15:11). Jesus confirms this in Matthew 26:11, “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.” For Israel, God’s intention was the eradication of poverty, as is evident from Deuteronomy 15:4, “Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it.” That, however, was conditionally based on Israel’s obedience, “Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day” (verse 5). Doubtless, countries with a high percentage of poverty will have to face rebellion sooner or later. The Arab Spring, for example, was primarily due to the fact that the rich became richer and the poor became poorer.
(For more on Israel’s future, read Zechariah’s Prophetic Vision for the New World, Item 1052.)