'Left and Right Equally Guilty for Poverty'

'Peres's talk of poverty infuriating,' former MK and Israeli Black Panthers leader tells Arutz Sheva, says Left and Right equally to blame.

Benny Toker, Ari Yashar ,

Homeless man in Jerusalem
Homeless man in Jerusalem
Nati Shohat/Flash 90

Charlie Biton, a former leader of the Israeli Black Panthers group founded in the 1970s that fought for racial equality and social justice, told Arutz Sheva that despite a recent ongoing media spat, politicians on the left and right never really cared about the problem of poverty.

"They're all guilty and it doesn't matter to any of them, including (Yair) Lapid who as it were is proud of trying to find solutions," said Biton, himself a former MK, on Tuesday.

The topic was raised on Monday by former President Shimon Peres, who accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government of being "all talk and no action" on poverty, to which Likud fired back listing its achievements and asking "what has the left done for the public?"

"It's infuriating that Peres speaks about the problems of poverty - poverty never bothered him, he just holds birthday parties and renovates the President's Residence four times in seven years, it doesn't shock anyone," said Biton, noting Peres's two million shekel ($450,000) 90th birthday party and threefold increase of the President's Residence expenses on the state.

He added: "the Peres Fund for Peace will give thousands to Palestinians who want to be hospitalized in Israel, but when we asked them to hold Bar Mitzvahs for poor children in the President's Residence we were answered in the negative."

"We would hold Bar Mitzvahs with (former President) Moshe Katzav, but since Shimon Peres entered the President's Residence they refused me, then they suddenly talk about poverty," said Biton. He added sarcastically "to hold Bar Mitzvahs for poor children who don't have money to buy tefilin (phylacteries), that isn't poverty."

The gaps in Israel are enormous, confirms Biton, adding "I blame all of the governments of Israel... Bibi (Netanyahu), Lapid and (Ehud) Olmert, they all only acted to increase the gap; it hurts and it's sad, and maybe it's good that finally they're speaking about the problems of poverty, maybe it will reach the agenda."



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