Following the unprecedented 3800 missile attacks on Israel’s civilian population, the UJC is launching a $300 million dollar campaign, there are people in need and there are bonafide service organizations who need direct assistance who cannot get any such assistance through the normal channels.
Our older daughters, Leora, aged 18 and Rivka, 23, went to Tzfat for two weeks to help run the shelters for the people there.
They were part of a volunteer team who replaced the social service system that collapsed.
Many social service professionals and other municipality workers left Tzfat on July 13th, the 17th of tamuz, when more than 100 missiles hit the city. The municipal workers left with their publicly owned cars, along with almost anyone in Tzfat who had a car.
The job of the volunteers was to work with the people who were stuck in Tzfat – immigrants, old people, poor people, handicapped people. My girls improvised – dressing up as clowns and performing in the shelters – my older daughter is a trained as a professional clown therapist.
As the HaAretz newspaper documented today, the social services simply did not function through this month long crisis, and the vacuum was picked up by private non profit health, education and service organizations. The head of the Israel Association of Social Workers gave an interview in Globes today in which he called for the creation of an investigation of how these public services collapsed
Indeed, hundreds of groups from the center of the country contributed whatever they could to the people from the north, and, tragically, the lack of coordination of services caused friction and tension between different sectors of the development town populations who accused one another of receiving aid at the expense of one another.
Ironically, the Globes newspaper has reported and confirmed that the non profit health, education and social service organizations in the north will receive no compensation for damages that they faced during this period. Those damages occurred because the contracted funds that these organizations receive from the local municipalities and from other sources were not received over the past month, which these services continued to function.
In another piece that appeared in HaAretz, it was noted that the weak municipalities in the north will not be able to survive this crisis. For example, the cities of Tzfat,Kiryat Shmoneh, Hatzor, Tiberias, Maalot and Acre have not been able to pay the salaries of their community center workers for several months, and the war situation will make matters worse.
At this point, funds which are transferred to any of these municipalities will be swallowed up by the banks, to cover debts.
Meanwhile, the decision of the Olmert government to NOT declare this to be a war situation will mean that thousands of people will not be able to collect full insurance for lost income, for property damage and for business losses.
At the same time, the Israel Ministry of Industry and Trade, under the ministerial leadership of former minister Olmert, reduced the power, authority and counseling services of the consumer protection authority of the government, making it hard for people to get appropriate counsel for their situation.
Moreover, none of these municipalities provide any framework for pro bono legal services for people to find out what legal rights they have at this time.
Another development – the New Israel Fund is raising funds for Arab towns, with the specious claim that they were the only ones without appropriate shelter facilities, without noting that the Arab villages, like ALL Israeli towns, were ill prepared and without appropriate shelters -despite six years of warnings that were ignored. The greatest lie of all concerns the issue of the air raid siren systems. The NIF is spreading the word that the Arab villages do not have the sirens. An investigation by Ronny Sofer of YNet documented how Nazareth and some of other Arab villages had demanded to be cut off from the Israel siron system, because they did not like being bothered on Israel Memorial Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The bottom line: Discretion is the better part of valor. This will be a time to give with your hearts and with your heads… to make sure that the people in need really get the help that they deserve