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In recent decades, the “welfare state” concept has become popular among academics, journalists, policymakers, and the general public. It is used to explain efforts to address poverty, exclusion, and economic gaps, and is a term that has entered the public debate on many social issues in Israel.
Researcher Noam Tarshish examines Israel as a welfare state over time. Israel’s welfare state today is more similar to the liberal model – which can be found in countries like the U.S., Canada, and Australia – but includes a few conservative and social democratic elements that are rooted in the country’s past. The contradictory paths that Israel’s welfare system has undergone during its short history can be explained, in part, by Israel’s similar characteristics to the “extended family” of the Mediterranean welfare regimes. These characteristics include an emphasis on family and religion, as well as the differential allocation of welfare resources among ethnic, national, or other population groups.