Merav Ben-Ari
Merav Ben-AriMiriam Alster, Flash 90

MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) responded to Arutz Sheva's opinion article on financial incentives for divorced mothers.

Here is what she thinks - in her own words:

I read Gil Ronen's...article about the school grant, and I'm not managing to understand what Arutz Sheva's issue with single mothers is. Why all these old-fashioned views?

First of all, it's important to note that most women want to be in a relationship, they want to be supported socially, financially, emotionally, and so on. Most women want a happy, healthy relationship, to raise children together, and to be living in a relationship.

It gives you strength, balance, and allows a better life. So the - excuse me, stupid - idea that women choose to be single in order to receive money from the government, is just nutty and an invention of chauvinistic, radical, old-fashioned organizations which apparently never really understood what being a single family is actually like.

Research by CBO Director June O'Neill shows, for example, that a 50 percent increase in monthly Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and food stamp benefit levels will cause a 43 percent increase in the number of illegitimate births within a state.

And according to a Cato Institute study, analysis of the state data for 1992, increasing AFDC benefits by 1 percent of the average personal income in the state has several potential effects:

1) The number of AFDC recipients would increase by about 3 percent;
2) the number of people in poverty would increase by about 0.8 percent;
3) the number of births to single mothers would increase by about 2.1 percent;
4) the number of adults who are not employed would increase by about 0.5 percent;
5) the number of abortions would increase by about 1.2 percent; and
6) the violent crime rate would increase by about 1.1 percent.

Since I grew up in such a family, and I am very proud of it, I have a bit of experience.

Since when does personal experience equal facts?

But this isn't an opinion article on single parenting, but an article on school grants. It's a very important law, and I had the merit to expand it, with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's (Kulanu) support, until age 18. Meaning, until I came into the picture, only children from grades 1-8 received the grant. Today, children up to age 18 receive the grant, and receive it easily. You go to the National Insurance Institute's website, send in the relevant forms, and the money appears in your bank account.

Yes, you heard right - there is no "entrance exam." Anyone who is a single parent - whether they are a single mother or a single father - can receive this grant. By the way, widowers and families with more than four children who receive a welfare stipend, also receive this grant.

Even in Ben-Ari's words, she admits to what Arutz Sheva wrote: There is no entrance exam for single parents.

But if you are a family with two parents, you must be receiving the welfare stipend and have at least four children in order to qualify for the school grant.

So writing an entire article about the fact that this grant is intended for divorced women is just distorting the facts. But if you can harm single mothers, whose status is not that great anyways, why not? Go ahead and do it. By the way, Gil Ronen also wrote that the law was made by extreme leftists. So here's some news for you: The law was expanded by myself and Kahlon, and we're on the right of the map, and by the way, both leftist and rightist MKs supported our decision.

Omitting who first suggested the law, Ben-Ari says that she and Kahlon expanded it, and they are rightists.

And one word about the "entrance exam." The State of Israel gives very few grants without an entrance exam. They're few and they're rare. And I want to know, why not? Why does everything have to go by how much a person makes? Why can't you just give a grant because men and women are Israeli citizens, pay taxes, and yes, things are a bit hard for them, especially when they are raising children alone.

Israel has the highest costs of living in the OECD, and a large percentage of Israeli children live below the poverty line. Why, then, are families who live in poverty, but have three children or do not receive welfare, ineligible for the benefit?

So it's true that there will be those who earn a lot, despite that fact that I have a hard time believing that Shari Arison (Israel's wealthiest woman - ed.) (whose children, by the way, are no longer in school) will put her details into the National Insurance Institute's website in order to receive a school grant.

Actually. most people don't even know about this grant, so we are publicizing it on the media. But still, most of the families receiving this grant need it for their children.

I am all for giving money to the poor, but we also have to give the hard-working middle class something. After all, they pay taxes, and they raise children.

Why are single parents who earn a lot entitled to the grant, while two-parent families who are middle class or living in poverty are not?

And one more thing about single mothers. In Israel today, there are 140,000 single parent families, and 97% of them are headed by women.

The number of single fathers who will receive this grant - especially given Israel's tendency to give children to the mother regardless of how abusive she is, while fathers are supposed to pay child support and alimony which in some cases leaves them on the streets - is minimal.

According to the Rackman Institute (an institution which aims to "advance women's position in society" and regularly ignores women's abuse of their children - ed.), divorce has a negative effect on the financial situation of Israeli mothers and their children, and raises their chance of living in poverty. Because of this, the percentage of single-parent families living in poverty is high (25.1%) relative to that of the general population (18.8%).

In 2014, the average woman earned only 67% of the wage of the average man, per hour. Single mothers are caught in a trap of poverty which is hard to escape from, and which is based mostly on income. One of the solutions for this is to change how Israel's stipends work.

151,200 children in Israel will receive 1,000 shekels tomorrow to start the school year with. So if we can give them something, why not?

Divorce often has a negative effect on women's financial situations. But usually, the woman does not pay child support and alimony of 1,790+ NIS per month per child.

If a divorced man has 4 children and earns 8,000 shekels per month, he begins each month with only 2,000 shekels to live off of - and somehow has to afford housing, transportation, utilities, and food.

Minimum wage, on the other hand, is 5,000 shekels. And usually, the father pays the same sum even if the children spend half the month with him and half the month with their mother.

Ben-Ari, "the daughter of an amazing single mother," gave birth to her firstborn daughter in March. The only MK to be pregnant before marriage, Ben-Ari took pains to announce that her pregnancy was planned, and that she and the father - a gay friend - had signed a co-parenting agreement.