The Gap – The Truth of How Geography Affects Life in Israel

June 14, 2011

The “equality” on which Israel prides itself changes when one leaves Tel Aviv.  

During the last decade, the gap in the quality of life between Tel Aviv and the “periphery” (North and South) has increased and reached abnormal proportions. 

To address this issue, “The Forum for Government Stability”, spearheaded by The Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel (CECI), conducted research on the geographical inequality in Israel for Yediot Jerusalem

This special research revealed concerns in health, education and employment between the regions known as “North” and “South” Israel and the region known as the “center”, which is Tel Aviv.  Based on research findings, we could think of this “periphery” in comparison to Tel Aviv as two different countries even though they are only 2 hours apart.

HEALTH

Both the mortality rates and the percentage of infant mortality in the “periphery” are more than two times higher than in the “center”. The “center” also has more doctors, more dialysis stations, operations, and emergency medicine.  In the “periphery”, there are fewer doctors and 1 out of 200 babies die before reaching their first birthday.

EDUCATION

The gaps in education between the “periphery” and the “center” are not as wide as in the health arena.  However, the gap increases as the children grow older.  Also, the percentage of youths in the “periphery” who participate in the matriculation exams is lower (about 30%) than in the “center”, as well as the number of students who receive university educations.

EMPLOYMENT

In the “periphery”, salaries are lower.  There is a higher unemployment rate than in the “center”, and one third of the people live below the poverty line, which is double the number of people living below the poverty line in the “center”. 

Alon Cohen and Roy Levy, research fellows who searched the data of the Central Bureau of Statistics, stated that what surprised them most was not the gaps between different regions in the country, but the expression given to these trends over time.  “We checked how geographical inequality changed over the last decade, and we found that as a general trend, gaps between the periphery and the center grew larger.  Though the government passed resolutions that should have reduced the gaps, in reality, the situation has not improved.  Their graph shows the percentage differences between the 3 regions in relation to the national average (100%).  Tel Aviv and the “central” districts moved toward the national average, while the “North” and “South” had almost no change.” 

Dr. Matzkin, a lecturer at Beit Berl Academic College and the IDC, states, “It is correct that if the students from the “periphery” participate in the matriculation exams, the gap is small, but the more interesting question is — how many youths in each region participated in the exams; how many dropped out, and how many were told that they should not participate in the exams so they would not destroy the statistics?  Those from both the “periphery” and the “center” who take the exams will pass it with similar scores, but the real question should be – what is the number of youths from each area, who started in a specific year, who will participate in the matriculation exams?  This is the point we need to publish without being afraid, as it reveals the large gap between the “periphery” and the “center”.

Yuval Lipkin, CECI General Director, commented, “The government says that they are trying to attract young people to the “periphery”, but in reality, they are only giving small incentives and not proposing significant benefits.  The government is trying to reduce the “gap”, but it’s mostly providing only short-term solutions.  A Minister appointed to his position knows that his term will be only 1 or 2 years and that there is no long-term policy, therefore he doesn’t have much interest in planning for the future.”

The Forum for Government Stability is lead by prominent businessmen from Israel; among them the philanthropist Izak Parviz Nazarian, Michael Strauss, Amos Shapira, and seniors from academia, including Professor Uriel Reichman and Gideon Doron.

To learn more, contact American Friends of CECI at 310-300-4120.

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