There is an enormous gap in dental coverage in the United States. Following are the alarming statistics along with some web sites, programs, and organizations from which to learn more about the options:
of higher-income adults don't have dental coverage—The Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured’s survey on low-income coverage and access from July 2008
as many children will likely have tooth decay than asthma (which is covered by health insurance)
*At least 26 million
children lack dental coverage
*More than 80 million
adults have no dental insurance
*Oral cancer kills more adults in the United States than cervical cancer—Washington Post, June 23, 2009
of Americans 65 and older have had all of their teeth extracted
(View state-by-state facts at:http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=110&cat=2
)INFORMATION DESTINATIONS:American Dental Association
At its national conference in August, the Association discussed how health reform will affect the members’ practices. On Nov. 18, it will host another national conference, entitled, “Oral Health of Vulnerable Older Adults and Persons With Disabilities” in Washington, D.C. www.ada.orgChildren's Dental Health Project-Health Care Reform Center
This project works to ensure all children have access to dental care.http://cdhp.org/cdhp_healthcare_reform_centerChildren's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
This program was originally enacted in 1997 as part of the Balanced Budget Act. Reauthorization was twice vetoed by former President George W. Bush but was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009. It helps provide dental coverage for uninsured children. http://www.cms.gov/CHIPRA/Current Medicare Dental Coverage
As of now, Medicare only covers dental services that are absolutely necessary for a covered procedure or for extractions done to prepare for radiation.http://www.cms.gov/MedicareDentalCoverage/Kaiser Family Foundation
KFF constantly publishes surveys, studies, and statistics about everything you need to know about health care, including dental statistics.www.kff.org
By Janet Lubman Rathner and Alison Goldstein
Jewish students in the 21st century might well face cases of anti-Semitism on campus, but the causes are considerably different than those that plagued their parents and grandparents in decades past. While, in the last century, the main problem involved the imposition of "quotas"—and an illogical hate of Jews—now it often has to do with the Middle East conflict.
At a recent University of California, Irvine (UCI) rally organized by the Muslim Student Union, a member applauded the use of Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel while another showed off a swastika tattoo.
These actions—indicative of the years-long pattern of hostile behavior directed toward UCI's Jewish students—led the Orange County (Calif.) Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism on Campus to make a shocking recommendation in a report released in February: "Students with a strong Jewish identity should consider enrolling elsewhere unless, and until, tangible changes are made."
According to the report, anti-Semitism on the UCI campus is thriving because "[t]he Chancellor has failed to exercise his moral authority as an educator and leader by abrogating his leadership responsibilities. The boundaries of rational and reasonable discourse by constituencies that have differing positions on emotional issues have not been established."
UCI's extensive and ongoing xenophobic atmosphere is what led to the creation of the task force in 2006.
"We looked at [the task force] as a way to bring the community together," says Ted Bleiweis, public relations chairman for the task force. Bleiweis says that, in this kind of environment, "the situation for Jewish students is untenable because of the hatred." U.S. Weighs in
UCI is not an anomaly. And the federal government has taken notice. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights conducted a study, released in 2006, documenting, lamenting, and calling for action to battle what it termed an alarming proliferation of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
The United States seems to be experiencing a disturbing number of campus anti-Semitic incidents "in a volume not seen 15 or 20 years ago," according to Kenneth L. Marcus, former staff director of the commission.
"Whether this is a temporary aberration or an indication of halting progress can only be revealed with further study and action," Marcus recently told B'nai B'rith Magazine.
Concerns about hostilities at schools nationwide are why Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, director of the Tufts University Hillel, lobbied for funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2006.
The money is earmarked for programs that encourage interfaith understanding and interaction. Five East Coast colleges—Tufts, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Wellesley, Brandeis, and the University of Maryland—are sharing the three-year, $1.6-million grant.
"For years, we had been involved in promoting Muslim/Jewish dialogue on campus, but it wasn't enough to just talk about issues together. We wanted to develop curricula that would seriously address and educate students about cultural, religious, and political issues that were the basis for conflict on campus," says Summit in explaining why he approached DHS.
"I went to the Academic Affairs Office of the Department of Homeland Security and said, 'I know you are protecting bridges, but we're building bridges.' We needed to go deeper and have a greater impact on campus culture. We wanted to take students off-site [so] that they could develop personal connections and relationships that would build trust."
Summit says he believes the programs have begun to make a difference. "While we are now assessing the data, our impression is that these dialogue projects are contributing to a distinct lowering in the level of campus conflict over political, cultural, and religious issues," he says. "When you don't know people from other cultures, it's easy to vilify them. When you develop personal relationships and connections, [you feel] obligated to act in a more civil manner on campus and consider how programs, speakers, and articles in the newspaper will [affect] other students.
"It's not that everyone agrees; far from it. But when the president of Hillel and the president of the Arab Student Association ended up living in the same [building], they were much more likely to talk through differences, and do joint programming to discuss difficult issues, than to fight propaganda battles in the campus media," he continues. "When students feel that fellow students from other religious communities are willing to listen to them, even when they disagree, this lessens the level of tension on campus." A Historical Perspective
Anti-Semitism on college campuses is nothing new. Shelly Tenenbaum, a sociology professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., has written extensively about the subject. The players and circumstances might have changed, but not the issue.
When Wallace W. Atwood, formerly a professor of physiography at Harvard, arrived at Clark to become president in 1920, he brought along not only a desire to hire Harvard graduates, but also the Harvard model of keeping Jewish employees to a minimum. In a paper published in 2003, titled "The Vicissitudes of Tolerance: Jewish Faculty and Students at Clark University," Tenenbaum writes:
"In 1925, Harvard University's Appointment Office sent a typed memo to Clark with a list of five available candidates with master's degrees in mathematics. The chairperson of Harvard's mathematics department initialed the document, which he labeled 'confidential,' and wrote comments at the bottom of the page about two of the candidates. About one master's student he wrote, 'Jewish–not very clean cut personally,' and about the other, 'Lame–not very clean cut personally as I remember him.' Only these two candidates had X marks written over their names. It is unclear whether the chair from Harvard or someone from Clark made these marks."
Based on Tenenbaum's research, Atwood also had anti-Semitic leanings. "When Atwood tried to convince the Board of Trustees to approve a two-year appointment for a refugee scholar in 1941, he pointed out that the applicant 'is a Belgian, not Jewish,'" Tenenbaum writes. "One year earlier, a department chairperson believed that Atwood opposed his first choice for a one-year position because the candidate had 'the misfortune to be an Armenian and to look like a Jew, which he is not.' The department head thought it might help his candidate's chances if the president knew that this Armenian scholar had a white Anglo-Saxon wife who was 'an attractive, intelligent girl.' In the end, Atwood agreed to this temporary appointment."
In an interview with B'nai B'rith Magazine
, Tenenbaum says this particular form of anti-Semitism persisted for years both on and off college campuses.
"Discriminatory practices against Jewish faculty and students reflected a xenophobia that plagued the United States during the post-WWI era," Tenenbaum says. "Henry Ford's publication of the anti-Semitic 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' a tract accusing Jews of waging an international conspiracy for world domination, contributed to a political climate that influenced Congress to pass its 1924 legislation curtailing immigration of 'racially inferior' people, including East European Jews."
Tenenbaum writes that college employees were not the only ones affected by anti-Semitism. Efforts to exclude students who were Jewish were rampant among some of the country's finest schools.
"Many East Coast college presidents implemented exclusionary measures out of fear that increasing numbers of Jewish students would overwhelm their schools and threaten an institution's reputation. Pres. A. Lawrence Lowell of Harvard advocated a quota system when the proportion of Jewish students at his school tripled from 7 percent in 1900 to 21.5 percent in 1922," she writes. "Similarly, Yale's Pres. James Rowland Angell supported his dean's recommendation to limit the number of Jewish students when they grew from 2 percent in 1901–1902 to more than 13 percent of the class of 1925.
"Once one school introduced quotas, a chain reaction emerged since 'none wanted to become a dumping ground for unwanted Jews.' While Columbia and New York University, two of the first schools to implement quotas, used character tests, the Big Three—Harvard, Princeton, and Yale—developed exclusionary tactics such as requiring applicants to include photographs with their applications, provide information about religion and race, and complete personal interviews.
"As a result of these strategies, the proportion of Jewish students in Yale's class of 1934 decreased to 8.2 percent while the proportion in Harvard's class of 1930 fell to approximately 10–16 percent. Meanwhile Princeton cut its number of successful Jewish candidates by almost half, ensuring that the Jewish proportion of the student body would not exceed 3 percent, the percentage of Jews in the national population."
Tenenbaum tells B'nai B'rith Magazine
it wasn't until after World War II, and the gradual and subsequent abolition of legal segregation laws, that caps on Jewish hires and students at Clark and other universities became a practice of the past.
"A strengthening of democratic values, the dismantling of the Jim Crow system of legal segregation, and an overall decline in anti-Semitic sentiment led to the decline of Jewish student quotas and to a dramatic increase in the number of Jewish faculty," she explains.
"By the time of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—legislation that guaranteed that 'all persons shall be entitled to the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation…without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin—anti-Semitic quotas had all but disappeared in the [academic world]," Tenenbaum says. Nationwide Issue
However, the disappearance of quotas has not totally quelled anti-Semitic acts. The 2006 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights study documents testimony from Susan B.Tuchman, director of the Zionist Organization of America's Center for Law and Justice, about assorted anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred on campuses around the country.
At Rutgers University in 2004, for example, the student newspaper published a cartoon with pictures of a man sitting on an oven while another man lobs balls at him. The caption? "Knock a Jew in the oven! Three throws for one dollar!"
While some campus anti-Semitism reflects the hostilities and misconceptions of an earlier era, most incidents today appear rooted in negative feelings toward Israel, although Summit says the situation is not as explosive as it once was.
"The situation is better now on campus than it used to be," he says. "During the first and second intifada, the level of anti-Israel activity, such as movements for the university to divest from Israel, was more pronounced. We countered at that time with a major campaign, 'Invest in Israel,' to educate the campus.
"Recently, with programs like IACT [Inspired, Active, Committed, Transformed], in conjunction with Boston's Combined Jewish Philanthropies, we have doubled the number of students we have sent to Israel. Last year alone, we sent more than 200 students to Israel from Tufts and then did serious follow-up work with these students after they returned."
Through all of this Summit cautions that it is important to differentiate between criticisms against Israel per se and criticism against Israel rooted in hate toward anything Jewish.
"One of the greatest strengths of Israel is that it is a vibrant democracy, the only vibrant democracy in the Middle East. As long as students support the right of Israel to exist, we have no problem with students who are critical of specific aspects of Israel policy," Summit says. "The real challenge is to educate students to be passionate, knowledgeable advocates and supporters of Israel, even if they don't accept every aspect of current policy. We do this through travel to Israel, first-rate lectures, and introductory programs like 'Israel 101' which is a peer-led student program on our campus." Silencing Hate
Marcus, who ended his tenure with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in January, was instrumental in its 2006 report chronicling campus anti-Semitism. "What the commission found," says Marcus, "[was] that students don't know their rights, so we began a nationwide public education campaign."
Equipped with an Internet crusade, a website, flyers, posters, and speakers like Marcus, the commission is spreading the message of the ongoing campaign: "Silence is an ally of hate."
The effort encourages students to gather information on what constitutes an anti-Semitic incident and how to seek help for a variety of situations. Marcus says, "A surprising aspect of campuses, as revealed in our work, is the variety of manifestations of anti-Semitism, such as intimidation from professors, or the cultivation of a hostile environment from outside speakers, or intimidation from other students. It is different at each institution."
The commission's campaign calls on administration, faculty, and on- and off-campus Jewish organizations, like Hillel, to publicize the campaign and act as watchdogs on individual campuses.
Mark Dollinger, who holds the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State, knows that institutions of higher learning can't effectively combat anti-Semitism without this sort of team effort, and is proud of his institution's approach.
"Anytime there is an episode of anti-Semitism, [San Francisco State University President Robert] Corrigan calls together Jewish faculty, community representatives, student representatives from Hillel [and] the [Anti-Defamation League], and others to coordinate a response," he notes.
San Francisco State's task force has been deemed a "best practice" by experts like Marcus, who say that the most effective efforts to combat anti-Semitism on campuses have "forceful, energetic administration [led by presidents] like Corrigan who are very forthright and firm in their indications."
Dollinger agrees. "With an administration willing to speak publicly and honestly about the issues, there is no sweeping anything under the rug."
What is always central to Corrigan's responses, Dollinger says, is the overarching mission of the university—or any place of higher learning, for that matter. "This is always our most powerful argument," notes Dollinger. University Standards
The standards of universities and faculties' adherence to them are of paramount importance to Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME).
The nonprofit group of academics was formed "to inform, motivate, and encourage faculty to use their academic skills and disciplines on campus, in classrooms, and in academic publications to develop effective responses to the ideological distortions, including anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist slanders, that poison debate and work against peace," according to its website.
SPME has chapters on 20 campuses in the United States and Europe, and more than 19,000 scholars and members receive the organization's literature at 1,000 university and college campuses worldwide.
Ed Beck, SPME's president, explains that the group intends to uphold scholars' academic freedom while maintaining academic accountability. "Our target audience is our colleagues," he says. "If we talk to our colleagues in understandable language, we reach them. We need to be more than an Israel advocacy group or a Jewish group."
According to Beck, this means SPME does not always go public when it receives complaints about a fellow academic. These measured responses, Beck notes, "aren't always the outcome the complainant wants. Just because we [organizationally] disagree with a professor does not mean [what he/she said] is actionable." B'nai B'rith Effort
Students on campuses nationwide are also working to institute "permanent institutional change" themselves. As part of a rekindled partnership with the national Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, B'nai B'rith International (BBI) and AEPi have teamed up with the historically black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi.
According to Renee Howard, BBI's program manager and young leadership outreach coordinator, "the partnership, called Black–Jewish Relations: Honoring Our Past, Shaping Our Future, is based on the historical and systemic adversity both groups have faced."
Joint BBI-fraternity programs were held this spring at the University of Florida and New York University.
By engaging in informal dialogue at information sessions about the human rights situation in Darfur and holding voter registration drives, the groups hope to collectively combat hate and bias.
Marcus says that such partnerships remain few and far between, but that reopening dialogue between underrepresented groups is key to raising awareness about campus anti-Semitism.
Howard says, "Together, we hope that we can serve as an example to other organizations, campus-wide, by demonstrating that race, sex, creed, and religion do not preclude organizations successfully working together." Below is a list of organizations and periodicals contacted for this article:
B'nai B'rith International
Young Leadership Outreach Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Orange County Taskforce homepage: http://www.octaskforce.wordpress.com
U.S. Commission on Civil Right's Public Education Campaign to end Campus Antisemitism: http://www.eusccr.com/index.htm
Shelly Tenenbaum, "The Vicissitudes of Tolerance: Jewish Faculty and Students at Clark University
The Massachusetts Historical Review: http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/mhr/5/tenenbaum.html
By Uriel Heilman
JERUSALEM — Living in Israel in the 21st century, one might wonder what Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, would think of this modern-day state.
The malarial swamps of pre-state Palestine have been replaced by rapidly growing cities with glitzy shopping districts, carefully landscaped parks, and six-lane highways that run between high-rise office buildings and limestone apartment complexes.
The agricultural pioneers of the era of the Halutzim, who struggled to sow the seeds of the new nation-state, armed with simple hoes, have been succeeded by settlers in the West Bank's Jordan Valley, who have installed high-tech drip-irrigation devices to hydrate hybrid tomatoes for export to markets in London, Paris, and New York.
And the nation whose birth defied the odds in a war of independence against invading Arab armies to the north, east, and south has become a regional military superpower with an assumed nuclear arsenal, a crack air force, and peace treaties with two of its Arab neighbors.
Agricultural settlements have turned into sprawling cities; the 1948 population of roughly 800,000 has swelled to more than 7 million. And—perhaps most important of all—the Jewish state has become home to Jews from Russia, other parts of Europe, Iran, Ethiopia, Argentina, Egypt, North America, India, and too many other places to mention.
Sixty years on, Israel has much to celebrate, having created a vibrant, diverse, and occasionally bewildering society virtually from scratch.
In all likelihood, Herzl would not even recognize the place.
"I think Herzl would be so perplexed," says veteran Israeli journalist Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center, a conservative think tank in Jerusalem, and a contributing editor with the New Republic.
"He wouldn't know in what proportion to be thrilled and disappointed. Israel bears no resemblance to what Herzl imagined—conceiving a Jewish state from the end of the Austro-Hungarian empire."
Herzl envisioned a socialist utopia that would combine the best of European culture and Jewish ingenuity, imagining Jerusalem as the home of both a Palace of Peace, which would arbitrate international disputes, and the Jewish Holy Temple, which would be rebuilt according to modern, modified specifications. In his famous work, "Altneuland" ("Old-New Land"), Arabs hardly merit mention.
Halevi says Herzl would find Israel's radical Jewish diversity most perplexing.
"The East-West mixture, the racial mixture of Israel, Ethiopian culture, Moroccan music—all the elements that make Israel so unpredictable and so interesting are elements Herzl couldn't conceive of, sitting in Vienna in the beginning of the 20th century," Halevi says.
A Dream Close to Fulfilled
In many ways, however, Herzl's dream of a Jewish state has been fulfilled.
Israel has secured its place among the world's nations, even though its leaders bemoan the threat posed by Iran and the demographic threat represented by the Palestinians. Israel boasts bustling cities, concert halls, theaters, centers of science and learning, skyscrapers, a stock exchange, and a thriving nonprofit sector.
On the flip side, as a state like any other, Israel also has poor people, failing schools, government corruption, run-down neighborhoods, traffic, drug problems, and criminals.
And, after 60 years, Israel still faces basic questions of existence and character most countries resolved long ago: Can the state be both Jewish and democratic? What will the final borders of the country look like? Where, exactly, is the balance between religious and secular, Arab rights and Jewish character, change and preservation, future and history?
Sixty years on, the battle for Israel's soul is far from over.
Tel Aviv leftists debate right-wing settlers about whether the final borders of the state should encompass the West Bank or run along the pre-1967 border. Secular yuppies from Herzliya lobby to be able to buy pork products and shrimp in their local supermarkets, while Knesset-sanctioned inspectors slap fines on malls that open on Shabbat.
Russian-Israelis say Israeli immigration policies unfairly exclude their non-Jewish relatives, while yeshiva rabbis warn that an influx of foreign laborers and non-Jewish immigrants erodes the state's Jewish character. Arab-Israelis from Jerusalem ask why their Palestinian cousins from nearby Bethlehem are barred from visiting them, while a Jew from Chicago can become an Israeli citizen simply by showing up at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv with a letter from her rabbi.
These are the growing pains of a state that, 60 years after its founding, still hasn't quite decided what it wants to be.
Eliezer Ya'ari, the Israel director of the New Israel Fund, says the battle for Israel's soul is between those who want her to be a democratic state like any other and those who want it to be a Jewish state.
"There is a constant fight in Israel between the 'Jews' and the 'Israelis,'" Ya'ari says. "The 'Israelis' want to become part of the Middle East," he explained; the "Jews" want Israel to be at one with Diaspora Jewry, rather than of a piece with its neighbors and its own Arab citizens.
Yet, even as they struggle with these basic questions, Israelis are continuing to build the state. This, essentially, is how Israel has developed throughout its six decades: Always in a state of emergency, under the threat of wars or terrorism, with the great questions of society still unanswered, Israelis have forged communities, launched companies, started rock bands, built cities, gone to cafés, and raised their families.
This perseverance—the carrying on of daily life, despite all the craziness—is what has sustained Israel for 60 years.
"Despite all of the self-criticism that we have in Israel, we can't lose sight of the fact that Israel is a modern miracle," says Alan Schneider, director of the B'nai B'rith World Center in Jerusalem.
"Israel is the realization of a 2,000-year-old dream [and] has had the stamina to found a society on ancient foundations, including a language, while successfully meeting existential threats throughout its history and absorbing a multitude of immigrants from various backgrounds and building a modern economy."
Growth and Innovation
One would be hard-pressed to find another country in the world that has experienced as rapid growth over the span of just six decades as Israel. That such growth has occurred amid frequent wars, the constant scourge of terrorism, and other daily challenges has made it all the more remarkable.
More than anything else, Israel owes its growth to immigration. The millions of Jews who have come to Israel's shores—by boat, airplane, and secret missions—have been the lifeblood of the Jewish state.
They have created the country's national institutions; populated its universities; wear the uniforms of the Israel Defense Forces; start its innovative companies; lead its yeshivas; and even work the farms that dot the landscape in the state's picturesque pastures.
Israel's prime ministers have come from Russia, Poland, and Milwaukee. Even the current generation of political leaders includes some relatively recent immigrants: Natan Sharansky and Avigdor Lieberman are both from the former Soviet Union.
Despite the apparent lack of natural resources in Israel—the country has no oil reserves to tap, no verdant breadbasket, limited water, and a relatively small population—Israel has made the most of its greatest resource: its people.
Jewish ingenuity has made Israel a center of innovation, from medical breakthroughs to emerging technologies to the marketplace of ideas.
Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange than any other country outside the United States. The world's leading technology companies, including Intel, IBM, and Microsoft, maintain extensive R&D facilities in Israel. The country has the highest proportion in the world of university graduates per capita. Outside of Europe and North America, Israel leads in the number of patent applications.
Israelis invented the video camera that fits inside a pill, giving doctors a new, non-invasive way to view their patients' insides. Four young Israelis invented the first instant-messaging technology, known as ICQ, which was later sold to America Online. The "disk-on-key"—or flash drive—now used almost universally in place of diskettes, was created in Israel.
"Israel has the highest concentration of talent in the world," says Moshe Kaveh, president of Bar-Ilan University, the nation's largest educational institution.
David Brinn, until recently the Israel director of Israel21c, an organization that disseminates information about Israel beyond the Arab-Israeli conflict, says the Israeli knack for innovation has to do with the chaotic nature of life here.
"The innovativeness and the improvisational aspects of Israeli society have really helped," Brinn says. "It's a combination of necessity—not having natural resources, like oil—and having to use just your own ingenuity.
"It's about using a Jewish mind," he says. "We don't have anything else to work with."
Brinn and others attribute that ingenuity in large part to the army, where Israelis learn at a young age how to adapt and find solutions to life-threatening problems. "Having to react on the fly and do things quickly has…been a real asset," Brinn says.
That ingenuity carries forward later in life, which is partly why Israel has been such a successful incubator for start-up companies. Investors continue to flock to Israel to invest their money in what has become known as the Silicon Valley of the Middle East.
"There's so much vitality. There's so much creativity," gushes Halevi, of the Shalem Center. "Israelis are an extremely restless and creative people. We have the second-highest number of high-tech start-ups in the world. That's a manifestation of the result of restlessness here.
"The thing about Israel is you never know what's coming next, and the changes happen very quickly."
Competing with the Diaspora
With such restiveness, it's no surprise Israel also has the highest proportion in the world of people who travel abroad. Crammed into such a small country, Israelis often speak of the need to escape—whether for a weekend shopping trip in London, a summer trekking in the Andes, a year at an ashram in India, or a stint at a technology company in California.
Sometimes, they don't come back.
Kaveh says this is because, as Israelis become stars in the worlds of high-tech, business, academia, and even entertainment, they often move abroad where there are more opportunities, bigger paychecks, and larger markets.
Because Bar-Ilan is a research institution with limited means, Kaveh says he feels this brain drain acutely.
"The state almost cannot provide the conditions that exist at labs at other universities around the world. My budget is 10 percent of that of a mid-sized university in the United States," he notes.
The brain drain is not just in academia. Corporate titan Lev Leviev, Israel's richest man and originally an immigrant from Uzbekistan, announced in December 2007 that he'd be moving to London to be closer to his business ventures. Yitzhak Tshuva, the Israeli real-estate magnate, spends about half his time working out of New York. Fashion model Bar Refaeli, the longtime girlfriend of actor Leonardo DiCaprio, told Israeli reporters in 2007 she was relocating outside of the country.
Israel is at risk of losing its biggest success stories, Kaveh says.
On the flipside, immigration to Israel, or aliyah, has slowed to a trickle. This is largely because immigration to Israel always has been dominated by aliyah of necessity: Jews expelled from Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Iran; Holocaust refugees coming from Europe; Jews fleeing the former Soviet Union; Ethiopian Jews in search of a better life.
But with 80 percent of the world's Jews already in Israel or North America—where Jews live freely and mostly prosperously—and the remaining 20 percent in mostly stable countries where the opportunity to emigrate long has been present, the era of mass aliyah movements appears to be over.
The remaining form of immigration, aliyah by choice, has had limited success. Even in banner years, the number of immigrants from North America, where the majority of Jews live outside Israel, barely breaks 3,000 people per year.
With little chance on the horizon for another major aliyah movement anytime soon, Israel is experimenting with different ways to raise those numbers.
Groups like Nefesh B'Nefesh offer cash grants, free one-way tickets, and job-placement aid to citizens interested in immigrating from certain Western countries. The Jewish Agency for Israel recently announced that it is planning a "flex aliyah" program that would offer assistance to Jews interested in aliyah but on the fence about committing to a lifetime in Israel.
In 2007, the Israeli government launched a campaign to draw home Israelis who have been living overseas.
Leadership and Vision
Even after 60 years, the question of what Israel will look like 30, 20, or even 10 years from now is not at all clear.
In Israel, different groups hold radically different visions for the country's political future, the relationship between church and state, immigration law, and even the army.
The one thing they all seem to agree on, however, is that the country's current generation of leaders has failed. One after the other, these leaders have been cast out, some due to political ineptitude, others due to malfeasance.
In the last year alone, Israel's president resigned in disgrace amid charges of rape; the son of a former prime minister was sentenced to prison for fraud but had his term reduced and repeatedly postponed; Knesset members have been convicted of bribery; and the prime minister found himself the subject of no less than five separate investigations.
"This is not a generation inspired by our leaders," says Halevi. "That's the biggest crisis we're facing. Everything else is manageable. This is not manageable."
Israel has experienced a major shift in leadership over the last few years. Stewardship of the country has passed from those who played a role in the country's founding—Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, and Ariel Sharon—to the generation of those raised in Israel.
The question now is whether Israel can successfully make the transition to political maturity, and whether the new generation of leaders can articulate a vision for the country that works.
"It's a country that's only 60 years old, but I think we're just coming out of our infancy," Brinn says. "In a sense, it's turning the corner. Because of the wars, we haven't been able to have any long-term planning."
Despite the worrisome headlines in Israel's daily newspapers about Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program, Hezbollah's resurgence along the Lebanon border, and Hamas' growing power in the Gaza Strip, Israel has become an increasingly stable, normal country.
In 2007, terrorism-related deaths in Israel fell to 13—the lowest level in years. Even during the heavy fire of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, the 4,000 rockets Hezbollah fired at Israel failed to do any lasting harm to Israel's economy, and there were relatively few Israeli civilian casualties.
The question for Israel isn't so much whether people will be able to live here in 10, 20, or 30 years, but whether they will want to.
"Our great shortcoming," Brinn says, "is that we have had great ideas that have gone by the wayside due to lack of long-term planning or foresight."
If quick reaction and lightning development have been the hallmark of Israeli success—from the business sector, to the army, to building the country from scratch—that lack of long-term planning has been Israel's Achilles heel.
After 60 years of focusing on survival, Israel must now address its internal challenges, Israelis say, particularly the ones that threaten national unity: the religious-secular gap, the Arab-Jewish gap, the rich-poor gap, the right wing-left wing gap.
"Israelis are experiencing a crisis of identity and leadership that has led many to question the viability of the state in the future," says Schneider of B'nai B'rith. "To rebuild this trust, the government has got to do a much better job in providing protection for its citizens, improving education and social welfare, and offering a Zionist vision for the coming decade."
The problem is that the country's leadership has failed to articulate a coherent political or social vision for the country, often pursuing contradictory paths simultaneously.
Even as the government says it is committed to the rights of its Arab minority, some Knesset members support a law that would bar an Arab parliamentarian from becoming prime minister.
The government decries the high rate of unemployment and welfare-dependent families among the country's ultra-Orthodox population, but it has kept in place laws that forbid young ultra-Orthodox men from working if they want to maintain their exemption from compulsory military duty. Israelis complain about Orthodox control of the Chief Rabbinate and of marriage, divorce, and Sabbath-day laws, but the political parties they support—on both the right and the left—refuse to change the status quo.
Israel has welcomed hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union who qualify for citizenship because they are descended from a Jewish grandparent, but the Jewish state has no avenue to enable them to marry Jewish Israelis and no policy for dealing with their non-Jewish relatives who wish to immigrate.
Even as Israel negotiates with the Palestinian Authority on the contours of a future Palestinian state, the government continues to fund Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank.
The country has moved toward increasing privatization, but not quickly enough for many Israeli-born companies that are relocating overseas to countries with more favorable tax laws. At the same time, the government has cut its investment in the country's greatest incubators of future leaders—public schools—where class sizes have risen to more than 40 students, underpaid teachers are fleeing the profession, and new curricula are failing to inculcate students with an appreciation for Zionist ideals or Jewish heritage.
Many Israelis say the nation's public schools, once considered among the best in the world, also are failing to provide the students with adequate math, science, and writing skills.
As development in Israel struggles to keep pace with growth, Israel is at risk of sacrificing the quality-of-life elements that make people want to live here: clean water and air, urban green spaces, unspoiled natural parks.
These are some of the issues that have Israelis wondering what the country will look like a generation from now.
Perhaps contradiction is the only way possible for the Jewish state. After all, what could the Jewish state be other than a place where 7 million people with different ideas and visions all compete to make theirs the future?
By Uriel Heilman
JERUSALEM - On Friday mornings, the line outside Bracha Kappach's modest home in the quiet Jerusalem neighborhood of Nachlaot stretches far down the block. People gather shortly after sunrise: unemployed men, elderly women without pensions, single mothers with many mouths to feed.
Kappach, a diminutive Yemenite woman in her 80s who has been helping poor Jerusalemites for more than 40 years and was awarded the Israel Prize for her efforts, stands in the entryway. She offers a warm smile as she presses bills into an outstretched hand; offers a frozen chicken and freshly baked challah to a raggedy-looking man; and a bag of used clothes to the older woman who struggles up the steps.
In recent months, Kappach says, it has become harder to stretch donated funds to help the estimated 1,400 families that rely on her for food and clothing assistance.
"Jerusalem is one of the hardest places in the country [for the poor]," Kappach says. "There are so many here that I just can't help. The state of poverty has gotten worse and worse. It's a very grave situation."
The reality of poverty in Israel is relatively new to the Israeli consciousness. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis face serious financial hardship-even as Israel has developed into a fledgling economic power, posting impressive gains in gross domestic product (GDP) and achieving dizzying growth on the Tel Aviv stock exchange.
Throughout the 1990s, the poverty rate in Israel climbed steadily. The number of poor Israeli families grew by 4.4 percent of the total population-the sharpest rise in the developed world. Public assistance increased to meet the need; from 1990 to 2001, welfare payments in Israel more than doubled, from about $5 billion annually to more than $10 billion. Nevertheless, the ranks of those living in poverty continued to swell and the socioeconomic gap in Israel between rich and poor rose sharply.
Between 1998 and 2005, child poverty rose 50 percent, to 35 percent of the child population, according to the National Insurance Institute (NII) and Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. There was a sharp spike in poverty overall between 2002 and 2004, when Israel's then-finance minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, instituted drastic cuts in welfare services. This coincided with the peak years of the Intifada, when the economy flagged as Israel coped with that ongoing crisis.
Although poverty rates in the Jewish state leveled off in 2005, they still remain higher than in any other industrialized country except the United States. "We have had stabilization, but it's not good enough, because we have stabilized at a very high level of poverty," says Miri Endeweld, head of the economic research department at the NII, which manages Israel's welfare system. "When you get to a high level, of course you're going to stabilize. How high can you go?"
And it is not just that poverty has risen. In 2004, Israel also had the second-largest gap between rich and poor among industrialized countries; only Taiwan's was larger. Israel's income gap was twice as large as that of the United States. To wit: While luxury homes with two-car garages are built in the beach town of Caesarea, residents in the next town on the other side of Israel's coastal highway use food stamps at local supermarkets in Or Akiva.
In Jerusalem, the picturesque but ramshackle homes next to Kappach's are being snapped up by savvy real-estate agents intent on tearing them down and building $2-million luxury villas.
All the while, the procession of people at Kappach's door on Friday mornings continues to grow.
A Wake-Up Call
In Israel, economics has always taken a back seat to the country's primary preoccupation: security. Israeli political campaigns almost always center on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israel's wake-up call on social issues came in 2004, when the NII's annual report for 2003 showed that nearly a quarter of Israelis-more than 1.5 million people-were living in need.
Statistics showed indigence continued to be highest among Arabs and Haredim (fervently Orthodox Jews), both of whom have large families and low rates of workforce participation. [See sidebar.]
But government numbers also indicate that nearly a third of Israel's children-more than 700,000-were living below the poverty line. A quarter of the people living in poverty were elderly, many of them Holocaust survivors with nominal or no pensions and scant government assistance. One Israeli family in five was classified as poor.
Israeli man beggingThe poverty line in Israel is defined as half the nation's median disposable income-that is, income after taxes. In 2005, the poverty line for a single person was about $445 per month; for a family of five, it was $1,337.
A minimum-wage earner in Israel brings in approximately $883 per month; taxes can reduce that number almost to the poverty line.
When the 2003 statistics were released, advocates for the poor claimed something was drastically amiss with Israeli economic policy. Many blamed Netanyahu for cutting welfare rolls; others argued that the government had not done enough to foster greater workforce participation.
Since then, it seems, every nonprofit organization, Knesset member, and interest group has placed the blame where it best fits their agenda.
Knesset member Eli Yishai, of the Orthodox Shas Party, whose constituents are mostly working-class Sephardic Jews, says poverty figures show the true costs of cutting welfare programs.
"Attacking government allowances is like disconnecting a patient from a respirator," Yishai says. "The government chose to destroy the poor instead of poverty."
Fiscal conservatives argue for lowering the tax rate to stimulate economic growth; kibbutzniks point to the rise in poverty as a sign of just how far Israel has strayed from its socialist roots.
Right-wing ideologues say foreign workers should be banned and their jobs given to Israelis; liberals argue for raising the minimum wage.
Among nonprofit organizations that work with Israel's poor, the figures sparked an intense debate about how to get Diaspora Jews involved without portraying the Jewish state as a charity case.
"On the one hand, we wanted to energize people to contribute funds to alleviate poverty," says B'nai B'rith International World Center Director Alan Schneider. "But on the other hand, we did not want to portray Israel as a country awash in needy people looking for their next meal."
Either way, as nonprofit officials are quick to point out, it takes more than new soup kitchens, clothing distribution programs, and after-school programs to reduce the ranks of the poor.
"If the Israeli government does not succeed, we certainly can't," says one nonprofit leader, Arnon Mantver, director of the Israel office of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which runs and funds a wide variety of programs. "We can make a difference in small slices of the population. But many of these programs are meant to be temporary, to fill the vacuum until the State of Israel is able to find a more permanent solution."
Change in Policy: Welfare to Work
As bad as the news was in 2004, it cast the national spotlight on Israel's poverty problem, which may help in the long run.
"Issues such as hunger, poverty, rights of the elderly, and a return to social policy are now high on Israel's public agenda," notes Larry Garber, executive director and CEO of the New Israel Fund (NIF), which supports social justice projects in Israel.
"In Israel's 2006 elections, a plurality of votes [were] cast for parties with strong social welfare platforms," Garber says. "NIF sees the changing tide of public opinion as an opportunity to take action, cultivate grassroots leadership, and work for increased investments in creating broader opportunities for the less-privileged segments of society."
In a country steeped in socialist mores, many Israelis believe the most effective way to reduce the ranks of the poor is to send more money their way-in the form of tax cuts, increased welfare payments, bigger pensions, and more social services, officials say.
But officials at Israel's Finance Ministry, which oversaw the welfare cuts that represented Israel's most significant departure from its socialist underpinnings, see things differently.
For decades, Israel's model for helping the poor was welfare. That's bad for government and not helpful enough to the poor, Finance Ministry officials say. The government ends up spending billions that could be invested in infrastructure to help people get jobs-such as job training programs or free day-care centers. Some say cash payments are a disincentive to work.
"We need a change in [the] paradigm," says Moshe Bar Siman Tov, deputy director of the employment and welfare division of the Finance Ministry's budget office. "We give high welfare payments, and this encourages people to stay outside the workforce. Therefore, we have to move people from welfare to work."
Israel has, on average, 4 percent less participation in the workforce than other developed countries-the lowest labor participation rate in the Western world, according to the Finance Ministry.
At the same time, welfare payments in the Jewish state are much higher than the average for developed countries. The Finance Ministry sees a causal relationship between the two.
The way to reduce poverty is not simply to throw money at poor people, Siman Tov says, but to "increase participation in the workforce and strengthen at-risk populations to give them equal opportunities for social mobility."
"The most important thing is employment-the labor market," he explains. "This is where all the reasons for poverty hide." The incidence of poverty among families without wage-earners is 68 percent, while in families with two wage-earners, it drops to 3 percent.
The question is how to motivate and enable welfare recipients to attain and hold onto sustainable jobs.
"The government can do two things," says Yossi Tamir, former NII director general and current director of the JDC's New Employment Initiative program. "If there are people who cannot work, like [the] elderly or handicapped, you can increase their welfare payments. But for people of working age, you have to enable these people to work."
That's easier said than done. Many people on welfare don't have the education for jobs that pay more than minimum wage-about $4.75 an hour; for those who do, jobs are not so easy to find.
"Forty percent of the poor are working poor," Endeweld of the NII points out. "Sixty percent of these people have fulltime jobs. You can work fulltime and still be poor."
The solution, Siman Tov says, is for the government to "change over from welfare expenses to expenses for services that increase the labor force."
That means that Israel-government and nonprofit officials say-must help low-wage earners train for higher-income jobs; enforce and strengthen labor laws to ensure employees are paid fairly; and develop jobs where poor Israelis abound and jobs are scarce, such as the Galilee in the north and the Negev in the south. On the larger level, Israel needs to stimulate job creation by attracting overseas businesses and removing regulatory obstacles to running a business.
Critics say Israel is focusing on macroeconomic solutions that have lifted GDP and helped well-off Israelis but done little to develop opportunities for people at the low end of the country's socioeconomic ladder.
"The leadership of the major parties has an ideological stance [that] is, 'Improve the macroeconomic picture and everything else will be okay.' I think that's not enough," says Barbara Swirski, executive director of Adva, an Israeli nonprofit that analyzes socioeconomic policy. "We need a little more direction."
Moving from Talk to Action
With Israel's economy continuing to post strong gains, there is a plan for getting more people to attain and hold onto sustainable jobs.
In April, the head of the prime minister's National Economic Council issued a report outlining a plan for reducing the incidence of poverty among Israeli families by 1 percent per year for the next three years, and increasing the rate of employment among Israelis aged 25-65 by 1 percent per year in the same period.
In "The Socioeconomic Agenda of Israel: 2008-2010," Manuel Trachtenberg wrote the goal is "to reduce poverty while encouraging growth, while the key is to be found in encouraging employment with suitable wages and an economic horizon."
The Trachtenberg report embraces most of the Finance Ministry's philosophy on how to address poverty in Israel and underscores the urgency of the problem.
It said Israel should invest in labor skills of the unemployed; develop more job opportunities throughout the country, not just high-earning occupations in the Tel Aviv area; institute an earned-income tax credit called a "negative income tax;" and streamline the welfare system for indigent Israelis outside the labor market, such as the elderly, children, and the handicapped.
"The deep and widespread poverty constitutes not only a mark of disgrace for the State of Israel today, but also … a threat to the continued prosperity of the economy in the near future," Trachtenberg wrote.
The report was lauded for its frank assessment and ambitious goals.
"Trachtenberg's paper is one of the most interesting to come out of Jerusalem in years. After reading its 106 pages, one can afford a smidgen of optimism," Israeli columnist Guy Rolnik wrote in Israel's daily, Ha'aretz.
"Despite its ambitious goal-extracting a quarter-million people from poverty in three years-Trachtenberg's plan offers a degree of modesty, professionalism, originality, and also, it's free of table-thumping jingoism. One can't usually say that about Jerusalemite economic programs," he wrote.
Along with the normal obstacles one might expect of a new economic plan, Israel still has to deal with its security situation.
Israel spends, on average, three times as much as NATO countries and more than twice as the United States on security, government statistics show. Between those costs and paying interest on Israel's high national deficit, there's not much room in the budget for anti-poverty programs.
"The government has to make an effort," Swirski laments. "It keeps saying it's going to do that, but then a war comes along and they say, 'Not this year.'" Perhaps just as important at this particular moment in Israeli history, the government appears to lack political legs for any major policy initiatives.
Barely two months after Trachtenberg's economic report was released, Israel's finance minister Avraham Hirschson resigned amid a corruption investigation. With job-approval ratings in the single digits, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is expected to come under renewed pressure to resign following the release of the Winograd Committee's final report on the 2006 Lebanon war, due out in October.
So, however ambitious the government's economic declaration, the reality is that Trachtenberg's plan has yet to be addressed by the Knesset. Tamir, however, says there is room for optimism.
For one thing, Israel's economy is strong, and that's having a trickle-down effect on job creation, Tamir says. There also is widespread consensus on the most essential elements of Trachtenberg's plan, such as the need to develop industry far from Israel's populous metropolitan centers.
In 2006, the government reversed some of the welfare cuts it instituted for the more vulnerable segments of the population, such as the elderly, who cannot join the labor force, and, in the same year, poverty levels dropped for the first time in several years.
Among the elderly, who have had a strengthened voice in the Knesset since the newly founded Pensioner's Party captured seven Knesset seats in the last election, the poverty rate dropped to 22 percent from 24 percent.
Perhaps how much progress Israel will make in the fight against poverty will depend not just on government, but on how willing Israelis are to keep the issue on the public agenda.
"I don't think it's [pie] in the sky," Tamir says. "I think it's possible."
At Kappach's home in Jerusalem, the government's plans don't seem to add up to much. She still stockpiles flour, sugar, and cooking oil to hand out on Friday mornings, but Kappach's own sources of support are drying up.
The last year has been especially difficult, Kappach says. After last summer's war in Lebanon, many of Kappach's regular donors redirected their money to Israel's north rather than to her charity, and she's short on cash.
"We haven't paid off our debts from last year," she said. "It frustrates me that I give less. They come, and I send them away. What can I do? "
Kappach's organization, Keren Segulat Naomi, has been forced to borrow money from a bank, sinking her into debt and reducing the number of people she is able to help.
Yet even as her organization's debts grow, Kappach says she'll carry on. There's simply no other way. "We continue to give, and whatever will be, will be," she says.
Who are Israel's poor?
By Uriel Heilman
When Israel reduced its welfare rolls in 2003, the cuts hit the town of Modi'in Illit very hard.
A fast-growing suburb between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, on the West Bank just over the Green Line demarcating Israel's pre-1967 border, Modi'in Illit is populated mostly by Haredim, or ultra-Orthodox Israelis. Many have large families and small incomes, and have been on welfare.
Yocheved, 33, a mother of five whose husband is a yeshiva scholar, was lucky to have a job as an office manager at the local municipality, but her minimum-wage salary was hardly enough to support her family.
"There were no jobs in Modi'in Illit back then [in 2003]," recalls Yocheved, who asked that her last name not be used. "That's exactly when the government started kicking all sorts of people off welfare, and people needed money."
Then salvation came in the form of an outsourcing company called CityBook Services, which began hiring haredi women by the dozens in 2003 and providing them with a livable wage in an Orthodox-friendly work environment.
"Eighty percent of the people we have here had never worked in an organized way. Those who did, worked in education or as a secretary," says Eli Kazhdan, the company's CEO. "They wouldn't work in a regular place because the environment is not conducive to their religious lifestyle."
At CityBook, the women work almost exclusively in the company of other women, and they have a family-friendly work schedule that enables them to be home by late afternoon.
The women at CityBook work on back-office real estate services, writing up title insurance policies and abstracts or summaries of complex commercial leases for CityBook's parent company, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services, which is based in Lakewood, N.J.
That company's founder, Joseph I. Rosenbaum, "came to Israel and decided he wanted to create some jobs for the haredi sector, not knowing whether it would be a mitzvah or a business," Kazhdan recalls. "CityBook started with eight people, and now we're up to 180 in a very successful business."
The jobs have been a much-needed salve for a community steeped in poverty.
Those Hardest Hit
No analysis of poverty in Israel can ignore the specific populations hit hardest. The two largest groups, Arabs and haredim, comprise a quarter of all Israelis, but together they constitute nearly two-thirds of those under the poverty line.
These populations share some distinct characteristics. Families tend to be quite large, most have just one wage-earner, and many of them lack the educational background necessary for high-wage jobs.
Most Israeli Arabs live in rural villages far from industries that support high-wage careers, don't have college degrees, and often run into hiring discrimination when they do qualify for jobs. Inevitably, many end up in construction or agriculture, struggling to make ends meet in occupations with no benefits or job security. Women rarely work outside the home.
Haredim by choice suffer from low workforce participation. Haredim view military service as a dangerous environment where religious children are exposed to secular influences and temptations. To qualify for exemption from Israel's compulsory military service, men must be enrolled in religious study programs until the age of 28.
As a result, many men remain at yeshivas well past their 20s-scholars are highly prized in the haredi community, particularly by parents looking for matches for their daughters-and long after they begin having children. If the scholars enter the workforce at all, their lack of vocational training or college degrees make it difficult for them to earn enough money to support their large families.
"It's a community where people feel economic pressure, but it's from choice; it's not something that is forced on people," says Yocheved. "That's the kind of life they choose. They want to have a house in which there is a life of Torah and not materialism."
For most haredim, it's not a matter of materialism, but of making enough money to get by. Yocheved acknowledges this is the case in her own community. "They need the bread and milk."
For those who can't find jobs that pay enough, the haredi community has developed comprehensive, privately run welfare services to fill the gaps between government assistance and families' needs. At one Jerusalem outfit, Rabbi Meir Baal Haness Charities, yeshiva students from their early 20s to their late 60s line up to receive cash stipends, free clothing, food assistance, and even bedclothes.
Poverty in Israel, elderly woman begs Other poverty-stricken communities in Israel are not lucky enough to have such support. Many are new immigrants, some still getting their bearings in their new home, and others are elderly, living alone and in penury.
Some of the most indigent are Holocaust survivors, according to survivor advocacy groups. Ethiopian Israelis, though a tiny proportion of Israel's population, are among the nation's poorest.
Israeli officials charged with dealing with Israel's poverty problem acknowledge that, while welfare-to-work programs may be the solution for some populations, they don't work for others.
"The trick is to weave the appropriate solutions for the right population," says Moshe Bar Siman Tov, deputy director of the employment and welfare division of the Finance Ministry's budget office.
The plan of the prime minister's National Economic Council (NEC) recommends increasing assistance to populations unable to work, such as the elderly, while removing legal hurdles to successfully pushing other groups, like haredim and Arabs, to get off welfare and into sustainable jobs.
Among the recommendations in Manuel Trachtenberg's NEC report, "The Socioeconomic Agenda of Israel: 2008-2010," is instituting a civil service program for haredim that would exempt them from military service and enable them to enter the workforce at age 20 or 21.
For Arabs, the plan recommends bolstering their participation in the workforce by providing them with better and more educational opportunities, strengthening anti-discrimination labor laws, and investing in industry in places where Arab populations are heavily concentrated, like the Galilee and the Negev.
"We're moving in the right direction," says Professor Yossi Tamir, former director general of the National Insurance Institute. "But these are slow processes."