The Likud’s racist Finance Minister Israel Katz ordered the freezing of a government assistance program for charities that help poor populations in need, following pressure from far-right activists who objected to the funds also being directed to organizations that aid refugees and asylum seekers, Haaretz reports.
A total of 53 million shekels ($15.4 million) aid package was intended for 23 non-profit groups that have been significantly affected by the pandemic, among them: Holocaust survivors, homeless, victims of sexual assault and other groups, including African asylum seekers and refugees.
After a campaign of public pressure by far-right activists including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair, Katz directed the freezing of the aid package, telling his office’s legal adviser that some of the groups earmarked to receive the funds “carry out activities contrary to the values and policies of the government.” According to Hadash MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List), “Katz is right: racism is one of the main values and policies of the Netanyahu government.”
Government sources told Haaretz that it is not yet clear whether Katz has the authority to cancel the financial aid package, as the Treasury and the Labor and Social Welfare ministry have already approved it.
According to ASSAF – Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel, “COVID-19 has created a scary and challenging reality that affects each and every one of us. However, for asylum seekers in Israel, it is particularly intimidating. Unlike many others, they have no support mechanism to lean on. After all, this community has been deprived of health and social services by the government for over a decade; these people have been severely affected economically by the cruel ‘Deposit Law,’ which appropriates considerable sums of their wages and makes their employment difficult. Since the law came into effect almost three years ago, the resilience of the asylum seeking communities has crumbled. The law has harmed the strongest in the community, and irreparably deteriorated the situation of the most vulnerable ones.”
“Clearly, the damage of the government’s agenda to harm an entire community on a daily basis is made worse in times of crisis. It is time that the state authorities realize this problem, and assist asylum seekers to handle a new threatening reality that we are all facing,” ASSAF said.
Related: Posts on Israel’s Deposit Law