Vol. 11 / January 2008 /  Shvat 5768                       A JOURNAL OF POLITICS AND THE ARTS


The Truth in Statistics1

Anita Tucker

A Jerusalem Post article headline from just one year ago, reported, “Gov’t: 75% of Gaza Evacuees Have Jobs”.2 At the time it was wishful thinking but was more likely a cover-up for the shocking reality.

One year later, one of the former Gush Katif farmers’ reactions remains the same:

A drop of simple kindness and morality needs to be added to the official equations when it comes to creating figures for the next government “statistical” report. People out there are suffering!

The government statistics brought out in the article that appeared one year ago in The Jerusalem Post, quote figures that were (and remain) very far indeed from reality.

Visiting the temporary sites and learning the individual stories can help reveal the on site truth to all who care to make such visits.

There are many former employees of the Hof Aza Regional Council who were put out of work on pensions of approximately 1,200 NIS a month and at the ages of over 40 and 50, cannot find other jobs.

“Statistically”, they are apparently not considered “unemployed” as they are receiving a pension.

Farmers who are not working may not, according to these “statistics”, be unemployed because they were not previously employed but business owners.

Farmers, like myself, who have reached the appropriate age (61 for women) and have, since the expulsion, begun to receive National Security “old age insurance” are also not included in the “statistics”. In Gush Katif, I might have managed my farm for many more years.

Farmers who received land as compensation, and are now considered self-employed, are also going further into debt because the government did not bother checking whether the land they were given was appropriate for intensive agriculture, as in the case of Kibbutz Zikim (whose main enterprises are mango, avocado and dairy farming and a polyurethane factory). They too are, of course, not in the “statistics”.

There are farmers who were to receive land for compensation, but the transactions are still on paper and, in fact, the government has not yet bought the land for them (with the compensation money they are holding) and therefore they, as yet, are not working nor do they have an income; but they too, of course, are not in these “statistics”.

All those who have “no rights” according to the compensation law, although they were born, married and had children in Gush Katif and had never left the community until the expulsion, may not be in these statistics, as they are not included in any of these “statistics”.

Anyone who is enrolled in a vocational retraining course is also most likely not included in these “statistics”. This, in spite of the fact that limited numbers of those who have completed these courses have since found employment.

Many of the people are now employed in half- or quarter-time positions, although prior to the expulsion they held full-time jobs. This is especially true of many who were employed in institutions which had to keep them employed. Since they are, in many cases, now living in other geographical areas, they were forced to move to a different branch of their companies and were given fewer hours to work, according to what was available. These people are certainly not included in the “statistics”.

Many teachers, aged 45 years-old or over, found they could no longer teach after the trauma of “disengagement”. They received an early pension, and now have an income equal to the salary of one position, though previously they worked 2.5 positions, thereby earning 2.5 as much as they are now with their pensions and consequently cannot support their children. They are also not included in these “statistics” but are desperate to find work and rebuild their lives and livelihood.

All the young people, who finished their higher education and/or their army service since the expulsion, and who normally would have been absorbed into their parents’ farming or other businesses in Gush Katif, are now unemployed and they too, are not included in these “statistics”. Their trauma and their family’s temporary situation make it more difficult for them to find work.

There are endless more examples to prove that the “statistics” reported by the government have no basis in reality.

Reporting these “statistics” is typical of the existing situation where our government bureaucrats are required to provide excellent excuses for everything, yet are given no tools for timed solutions to the real and very painful problems that the poorly planned expulsion created.

The figures in the article do not tell how the funds budgeted for the regional councils for absorption expenses have been worked out. They do not tell what the real costs of absorption were, or what the costs of surviving in these circumstances are. They do not tell that the budget for the interim communities, which is to be distributed via the regional councils, has been drastically cut even though the costs have risen. Some of the intensive professional costs involved in preparations for the new towns are not budgeted and fall on those whose homes and towns were destroyed to a pile of rubble, with the small help in donations the organizations involved are able to raise from individuals.

The funds appropriated for 2006 and 2007 for planning new towns have been used immediately and the towns are planned and approved but the government is avoiding signing contracts with appropriate funds to enable building anew what was destroyed.

Endless excuses and explanations are provided by our government’s bureaucrats. An exact timetable with appropriate funding is needed to ensure that every family will have a place.

Today the Prime Minister’s legal advisors have become experts on digging up old dormant limiting laws that they suddenly want to enforce, starting with some of the Gush Katif expellees thus robbing many families of their land. The letter of the law might be followed, but justice certainly will not be done.

A drop of simple kindness and morality needs to be added to their equations in providing figures for the next government “statistical” report. People are suffering!



1    This article was originally written a year ago, on 18 Tevet 5767 / January 8, 2007. The facts, and the situation of those expelled from their homes, unfortunately, haven’t changed.

2    Tovah Lazaroff, “Gov't: ‘75% of Gaza evacuees have jobs’”, The Jerusalem Post, January 8, 2007.