Saturday, January 01, 2005

Israeli President Moshe Katsav admits what other Jewish leaders won't: We've failed our children


At 10:28 PM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Katsav: We neglect our children
Jerusalem Post
Dec. 27, 2004

"The State of Israel has not carried out its obligation to its children," President Moshe Katsav said Monday after perusing the National Council for the Child's 13th annual report on Children in Israel.

A statistical compendium of almost every category that affects the conditions under which children are raised in Israel, the 556-page report is the largest and most comprehensive to date. Some of the many areas covered are children who have no permanent legal status, those given up for adoption, minors forced into marriage, and children who were victims of terror, accidents, or physical, mental or sexual abuse.

In presenting the report to Katsav, NCC director-general Dr. Yitzhak Kadman apologized, stating that when he had presented the previous report last year, Katsav had asked him to come back with a more favorable report this year. "I'm sorry we didn't succeed," said Kadman, who referred to the report as "a mirror with a most unflattering image of Israeli society."

Urging society not to break the mirror because it doesn't like what it sees, Kadman said that it would be much more productive to try to improve the image.

From 1998 to 2003, there was a 35 percent increase in the number of files of criminal offenses against children, rising from 6,370 to 8,900. Of these, more than 65% were committed within the family.

Statistics published five weeks ago indicate that every third child in Israel lives below the poverty line.

Relating to this indictment of Israel's welfare system, Kadman said: "We will not improve the economy on the backs of these children, whose condition is not a decree from heaven but something for which we are responsible."

Kadman noted that too often when people speak of children it is in some kind of future abstract. "We have to think of them in the present. It is both our obligation and our privilege to take care of them," he said.

Kadman recalled that last year, on the basis of Katsav's response to the NCC report, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had appointed a committee to look into ways of overcoming poverty.

"We all know what happens with committees in Israel," Kadman said to Katsav. "I entreat you to make every effort to influence the prime minister and the government not to rely on committees but to take concrete action." Kadman emphasized that the country has been for several weeks without a minister of social affairs.

At the end of 2003, there were 2,253,800 children in Israel, representing 33.4% of the population. Of the 150,000 children born in 2003, 71.5% were Jewish. The total percentage of Jewish children was 69.7.

In May 2004, there were 93,594 children and youths without permanent legal status. Of these 96.3% per cent had arrived in Israel on tourist visas that had expired.

From 2001 to 2003, there was a 13.7% increase in the number of minors who did not have full Israeli citizenship. The number leapt from 124,819 in 2001 to 141,919 in 2003. Approximately 71% of these youngsters are residents of east Jerusalem, while 29% or around 41,000 are offspring of foreign workers.

Katsav said that beyond the statistics, each child was worthy of a book about his or her life: the daily challenges, the fear of terrorism, the fact that Arab girls are forced to marry at age 16, the increase in violence, neglect, substance abuse and physical and psychological harm to children, plus the poverty. All this was intensely disturbing to him.

"I hope this report will serve as an SOS," he said, adding, "I'm ashamed to say that today's children are growing up in worse conditions than the circumstances in which I grew up in an immigrant transit camp."


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