MAZON Warns ‘A Less Democratic Israel Will Deepen Already-Critical Food Insecurity’

August 3, 2023

If any of the more than 200 ongoing judicial overhaul proposals in Israel’s Knesset (parliament) succeed in weakening Israel’s democracy, they in turn will deepen the already staggering rates of food insecurity in Israel, experts from MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, said on a briefing webinar yesterday. With 1.5 million Israelis struggling with food insecurity, MAZON and its partners are working to ensure that the Israeli government uses fair and equitable criteria in protecting and assisting all people — regardless of ethnicity, religion, or background.

Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky, MAZON’s Board Chair, underscored that MAZON and its partners will continue to advocate forcefully for the rights of all Israelis. “We know that a weakened democracy in Israel will make the already vulnerable even more vulnerable, especially those already experiencing hunger, who always suffer most during times of economic and social turmoil. These Israelis — regardless of ethnicity, religion, or background — must not be dismissed or ignored,” he said.

Mia Hubbard, MAZON’s Vice President of Programs, provided context that “unlike in the United States, the Israeli government does not have an overarching food security policy or set of programs. So several years ago, MAZON reframed our work in Israel to focus on building an advocacy infrastructure to compel a greater government response to hunger.”

Dr. Ishai Menuchin, MAZON’s Israel Director, explained that amid the ruling coalition’s ongoing efforts to overhaul Israel’s judicial system, MAZON and its partners are “fighting right now against the [Netanyahu government’s] proposal to eliminate the National Council for Food Security, to cut some of the budget for a new food initiative, and to remind them that addressing food insecurity is the responsibility of government — not of people facing hunger, charitable organizations, and private foundations.”

Last week, MAZON issued a statement upon the Knesset’s passage of legislation striking down the “reasonableness standard,” which would strip the courts’ ability to review and regulate various government decisions. Earlier this year, the Knesset also passed a two-year national budget that included significant increases in funding for food security programs. MAZON and its partners are demanding that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government keep their promises to address Israel’s hunger crisis by applying fair and equitable standards in determining the distribution of food assistance cards to all Israelis, including Arab citizens.

Click here for a full recording of the briefing.