EURAG – European Federation of Older Persons, Holds Annual Conference in Israel

Adi Marcus
Sep 10, 2023

The Histadrut hosted the annual conference of EURAG, the European Federation of Older Persons, in Israel. The conference was held last week in Tel Aviv, and was attended by 21 members of the organization’s council, including President Dirk Jarré and CEO Dana Steinova. The European representatives met with key people related to the senior citizens in Israel, including MK Gilad Kariv, one of the leaders of the pensioners’ lobby in the Knesset. They also visited the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Jaffa, and the pensioners’ center in Ramat Gan.

EURAG Conference at the Histadrut | Photo Credit: Lior Mizrachi

EURAG, is the only European NGO that represents the elderly and is run by the elderly. It is a non-profit and non-religious organization, independent of any political party. Its purpose is to promote the quality of life of elderly people in society, at all social and political levels. The organization’s annual conference in Israel focused on the challenges and impacts of financial, economic, and cultural changes on the living conditions of senior citizens. It also discussed ways to improve the quality of life for retirees in Europe and Israel.

The main event of the conference was opened with a video sent by President Yitzhak Herzog, in which he congratulated the members of the organization on their arrival in Israel. Keynote speakers from the Histadrut, EURAG and the Israeli government addressed conference attendees and discussed the challenges faced by the elders and retirees in Israel.

“75 years ago there was nothing [in the heart of Tel Aviv] and those who built this wonder called the State of Israel – are the senior citizens.”

Ofir Alcalay

“In order to protect those who built the State of Israel and on their backs, factories were built here, we will continue to strengthen the retirees, guarantee their status and take care of their rights”

Arnon Bar-David

Chairman of the Pensioners’ Union, Shmulik Mizrahi, was excited to host EURAG’s annual conference which the union is affiliated with. Addressing the conference hie said: “In the State of Israel, because of the security, social and political needs, and the priorities of the government, the issue of pensioners is quite forgotten. If it weren’t for this house, the pensioners’ situation would be even more problematic. There is no meeting in this House where the issue of pensioners is not on the agenda.”

Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David said: “Seeing you retirees from all over Europe, with the retirees from Israel, gives us hope that the world is good. In the end, we all work or have worked, we all make a living and want to live as we deserve. I see the pensioners as an integral part of this house. In order to protect those who built the State of Israel and on their backs, factories were built here, we will continue to strengthen the retirees, guarantee their status and take care of their rights.”

Histadrut CEO Dudu Bezalel spoke on the importance the Histadrut places in safeguarding pensioners rights and enriching their lives by coordinating social events and opportunities to engage with the community. He welcomed EURAG’s decision to hold the conference in Israel, saying: “Having the conference in Israel is evidence of our commitment to the rights of senior citizens”. importance we see to the issue of well-being and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

EURAG President Dirk Jarré said at the conference: “I have been here in Israel more than 25 times, and I always enjoy myself. We as individuals and as a society have the right and the opportunity to take part in making important decisions, and to empower the senior citizens.”

EURAG President Dirk Jarré | Phoro Credit: Lior Mizrachi

The Chairman of the IUGE, Adv. Ofir Alcalay, told the European members of the organization: “You are in the heart of Tel Aviv, but it is not obvious. 75 years ago there was nothing and those who built this wonder called the State of Israel – are the senior citizens. They faced the draining of swamps, austerity and wars. When I see an elderly person, I say to them: Thank you for what you have given us. Unfortunately, the state does not know how to cherish and appreciate the senior citizens. The Histadrut has made significant moves and will continue to take care of the retired public.”

Chairwoman of Naamat, Hagit Peer said: “Don’t throw me away to old age (translation of a Hebrew song) – is not just a song, but a way of life. This is the way I grew up. My mother, who is approaching the age of heroism, volunteers to this day – and this is our way and we do it with pleasure. To take care of women in all walks of life.”

Minister of Tourism Haim Katz also spoke at the conference, saying: ” In the State of Israel, there are about a million retirees, unfortunately about 190 thousand of them under the poverty line. I hope to raise everyone above the poverty line. We must do this together, and I share Arnon’s steps, who is leading moves to improve the quality of life of retirees in Israel. If we allow them to harm our social security and our ability to grow old with dignity, we are failing the goal.”

The conference was organized by International Affiars and Protocol officer at the International Relations DIvision, Attorney Jasmin Wirth, Chairman of the Pensioners’ Union, Shmulik Mizrahi, Head of the Academic Pensioners’ Department at the Pensioners Union, and Raziel Tswong who is also the Chairman of EURAG Steering Committee. The event was co-sponsored by the Municipality of Ramat Gan.

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