The Pennies in Benefits Israel Provides Its Elderly Is a Crime

Politicians always they there’s nothing they can do. But of course there is: Provide the entitlement based on need.

Kobi Niv
Kobi Niv
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An old woman looking through garbage. The subject was not the person photographed by Amram Cohen.
An old woman looking through garbage. The subject was not the person photographed by Amram Cohen.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Kobi Niv
Kobi Niv

Every summer, if there’s no war, there’s usually a report on Friday television on poor old people whose pathetic benefits from the state don’t cover their expenses, and they’re forced to work in cleaning, don’t have a place to sleep and just want to die. The news people and analysts in the studio squirm around and make sad faces until they shout bitterly the typical phrase: “Difficult sights, such a shame.”

Then the honorable minister who came to be interviewed about other important things joins wholeheartedly in the difficult-sights chorus. He talks about how he started working on the issue when he was in the Scouts, and how he’s going to raise the issue next week. “Thank you to the honorable minister, and now a commercial break.”

Never does one anyone ever turn to the minister and say, “You schmuck, you make more than 100,000 shekels [$26,500] a month, while this old person, who could be your father, doesn’t have anything to eat or anywhere to sleep. So why are you playing mind games with us with your fake tormented face?”

No no, that’s not how you talks to a minister.

Two days later, on Sunday, comes a follow-up broadcast showing how wonderful we are. Thirty-seven Jews and organizations have donated to the three elderly people, and a day later the minister in charge, whose personal fortune is valued in the tens of millions of shekels, says: “There’s nothing we can do because there isn’t enough money to give to everyone who needs it,” and peace be unto Israel until next summer’s war.

Enough with this garbage that “there’s nothing we can do” and “there isn’t enough money.” There is enough money and certainly we can do something.

The benefit money that Israel provides its elderly is a crime. The law sets the monthly figure at 2,500 shekels, and everyone receives the same thing. Thus ministers like Yoav Galant and Yair Lapid, prime ministers like Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu, presidents like Shimon Peres, Moshe Katzav and Reuven Rivlin, and tycoons like Stef Wertheimer, Yitzhak Tshuva and Shari Arison receive the same thing as those poor people in the report: 2,500 shekels a month.

That’s not equality. It’s something stupid, evil irrational and unjust.

Therefore, all that needs to be and can be done in a second is not to take away or add any money anywhere. Rather, simply distribute the money that the state allocates for the elderly differently.

For example, seniors with a pension and other income over 20,000 shekels a month won’t receive the state benefit. Anyone whose monthly income ranges between 15,000 and 20,000 shekels will get, say, 1,000 shekels, until people like the ones in the news report who have monthly income under 5,000 shekels receive a benefit of 5,000 shekels a month.

It’s easy, just and totally possible. People who object to this and it doesn’t matter how many contorted faces they make condemn the elderly in that news report and the tens of thousands of people like them to a sentence of life in the garbage and an agonizing death.

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