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American Christians join Israel's fight against poverty

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, head of Israel's largest philanthropic organization, explains how it donates millions of shekels to welfare projects, effectively making up for the government’s failure in dealing with poverty.
A Russian immigrant begs a driver for spare change in Jerusalem March 26, 2006. A growing number of Israelis live beneath the poverty line, many of them ultra-Orthodox Jews, immigrants and elderly. Poverty is a prominent issue in Israel's campaign for a March 28 parliamentary election. Picture taken March 26, 2006.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RTR17NNZ

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, heads the largest philanthropic group in Israel. He does not hesitate to answer when asked what he would say to Israel's prime minister, following the publication of the state comptroller's report on April 7, on the government's continuing failure to promote nutritional security.

“I would tell [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] Bibi that he should be worried politically,” said Eckstein in an interview with Al-Monitor. “If he doesn’t bring about a change, there will be huge demonstrations in the street, just as there were in Venezuela, for example. Either that or [former Welfare Minister Moshe] Kahlon will take over the leadership, because people in Israel want social justice. They are sick of committees and promises. The poor are getting poorer, and in the end, the young people will all flee the country. I speak to Bibi every so often, and I think he realizes that. But enough talking. Something has to be done. There were demonstrations three years ago, and what did Bibi do? He formed the Trachtenberg Committee.”

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