Living in Israel
Published in

Living in Israel

5 Social Issues Facing Israeli Society

Like any society, Israeli society is a complex one. The country isn’t yet one hundred years old. It’s comprised of sabras alongside a potpourri of immigrants drawn from throughout the Jewish world. Since the foundation of the state, more than three million olim have moved to Israel to enrich its ranks.

And yet, as any (honest) person living in Israel will tell you, Israel isn’t perfect. There are flaws. Things to be improved upon. Here are some of them.

Israel Is Too Expensive

The cost of living in Israel is among the highest in the developed world.

The Taub Center — a think tank — has done an excellent job in tracking socioeconomic issues in Israel, including the country’s cost of living.

A recent poll by CEOWorld plotted Israel as being the eighth most expensive country in the world.

Israeli real estate is also eye-wateringly expensive which makes getting on the property ladder extremely difficult for many young immigrants.

Israel was recently ranked as the 2nd out of 39 polled countries for the cost of buying property.

That research was carried out by CompareTheMarket, an Australian price comparison website.

The Taub Center has also previously stated that — relative to income — Israel is the second most expensive country in the OECD.

Generally speaking — and particularly outside of the high-tech sector — salaries in Israel trend below those in much of the West.

Many visitors to Israel will tell you that while they enjoyed their time in the country, they found it unreasonably expensive. In the author’s estimation, at least, hey’re not wrong. The high cost of living is one of the most salient features that impacts upon the day to day life of those living in Israel.

Israel Has Too Much Poverty

Israel’s poverty rates are also somewhat shocking although in light of the above dynamics perhaps that’s unsurprising.

Bituach Leumi (English: the National Insurance Institute) ranked Israel as second to bottom in the OECD for its child poverty rate.

While the article below cites the number of those living beneath the poverty line at 1.8 million, more recent media reports indicate that the figure has now surpassed the 2 million mark.

Poverty isn’t an equal affliction in Israeli society and certain demographics are disproportionately affected.

The poverty rate among Israel’s Arab population, for instance, stands at more than 35% (figures reasonably accurate only at the time of writing). According to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Israel’s national statistics body, more than 50% of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews live beneath the poverty line.

Latet, a food charity, alleges that “social issues in Israel often go undiscussed.” I believe that they are correct.

(Many) Israelis Are Litterbugs!

Littering: surprisingly, a significant problem in Israel. Note: as is obvious from the brands, this is a stock image that wasn’t take in Israel!

I wish this weren’t true, but unfortunately it is — at least in part.

While Israelis are justifiably proud about their homeland and what it has achieved, that pride doesn’t always translate into actually being the best possible custodians of the country itself.

According to a recently reported study, 45% of Israelis admitted to throwing a piece of rubbish in nature at least once in the past year. The study was published by the Natural Resources and Environmental Research Center at the University of Haifa.

At Pesah (Passover), when Israelis traditionally explore nature, disturbing photographs often surface on social media of national parks brimming full of leftover trash from careless hikers.

Clearly the conclusion here isn’t that all Israelis are unredeemable litterbugs.

But it does support the common observation made by those living here that when it comes to littering — oddly — there is a lot of room for improvement.

Road Rage In Israel Is Rampant — As Is Bad Driving

Driving in Israel isn’t for the feint of heart. Some — including the author — positively detest it.

Aggression is rampant. Many motorists seem to have no qualms about cutting out other drivers or jumping across lanes without the slightest hint of an indication signal. I can’t remember the last time I drove more than an hour here without being tailgated multiple times (when driving at night, the tailgaters even start flashing their lights!).

While for years Israeli politicians tried to raise awareness about bad driving by highlighting the fact that more Israelis had died in traffic accidents than in the intifadas Israel’s road accident metrics aren’t actually that terrible.

Nevertheless, road rage and driving misdemeanors are certainly both endemic in the country.

A study commissioned on behalf of the Or Yarok road safety nonprofit found that the incidence of verbal and violent abuse experienced on Israel’s roads was massive.

More than 48% of motorists driving in Israel had encountered road rage in the past year. More shockingly, 94% had witnessed aggressive beeping, tailgating, or cars cutting one another off.

There Is Racism in Israel

Although Israel has historically functioned as a refuge for world Jews fleeing racism, sadly the country is not exempt from the human tendency for humans to hate those from other races for no better reason than because … they’re of difference races.

Historically, racism in Israel has existed:

  • Between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews. Mizrahi Jews (literally: “Eastern”) originated in the Arab countries of the Middle East and beyond. Many Mizrahim complained of institutional racism in Israel, particularly during the state’s early days. Combating this prejudice was one of the founding tenants of the Shas party which, until this day, continues to attract a voter-base drawn largely from Mizrahi Jews.
  • Jewish minorities in Israel — particularly Ethiopian Jews — have long complained of racism in the form of police brutality and difficulties in the educational system. In 2019, following the police shooting of Solomon Teka, a wave of protests erupted throughout the country.
  • Arab Israelis have long complained of racism from the country’s Jewish minority.

Letet — a food charity — has alleged that “social issues in Israel … often go undiscussed.” In this contention I believe they are correct. Israel is a young state that has made tremendous progress in many fields but there is certainly still remove for improvement. These are some of the social issues facing the country.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Daniel Rosehill

Daniel Rosehill

Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things.