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Los Angelas Times: Welfare system could cause Israel to collapse, economist warns




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Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/news/custom/topofthetimes/topstories/la-fg-israel-idle-20100511,0,2113135,full.story

Welfare system could cause Israel to collapse, economist warns

Nearly one in five Israeli men between the ages of 35 and 54 do not work, including Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews, says Dan Ben-David. As their numbers rise, so does the economic peril, he says.

By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times

May 10, 2010 | 5:46 p.m.

Reporting from Jerusalem When people talk these days about Israel's economy, they use words like booming, resilient, even "miracle."

...

But one Israeli economist is warning that beneath Israel's back-patting lurks a hidden peril fueled by demographic trends and political choices that could eventually mean an end to the country.

...

Nearly 27% of Arab men and 65% of ultra-Orthodox Jews don't work, government figures show. The non-employment rate for ultra-Orthodox men has tripled since 1970, Ben-David said.

...

Today Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox together make up less than 30% of the population, but they account for nearly half of school-age children. If trends continue unchecked, Arab and ultra-Orthodox children could make up 78% of Israeli classrooms, recent studies have shown

...

"Some people drive a taxi, others pray," said Robert Zwirn, 63, a former doctor from Brooklyn who moved to Israel 20 years ago and gradually gave up his practice to adopt an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle. "But the Messiah won't come on the merit of you driving a taxi. It will be on the merit of our prayer."

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