Photo: Gil Yochanan
Should understand. Hirchson
Photo: Gil Yochanan

Holocaust survivors pay again

Finance minister continues to turn cold shoulder to Shoah survivors

The media recently reported that the Treasury objects to granting Holocaust survivors currently residing in Israel extra benefits. Some may have been surprised by the Treasury's insensitivity, yet an examination of the attitude to survivors in the State of Israel makes clear the extent of the injustice they suffered from the day the country was established.


The survivors came from the valley of death with nothing. They were exhausted, broken, human skeletons, and damaged for the rest of their lives. (This isn't the place to detail the attitude to them on the part of the proud Israeli-born society, but to say the least we can conclude life was not made easy for them, and in many cases they were insulted and humiliated.)


Without permission from any Holocaust survivor and without batting an eyelash, the State decided to become the largest patron in distributing funds owed to survivors by law. Israel received billions from Germany to be distributed among survivors, in the hopes that after the horrors they experienced on "another planet" they may be able to rehabilitate themselves. And what did the State of Israel do with the money? Confiscated most of it and only left the survivors with crumbs.


This continued for many years, in the hopes that with the passage of time the survivors would pass away. And so, to this very day there are tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors amongst us who were children at the time and are not getting a penny. Anyone who experienced the process of filling the forms and was exposed to the intolerable bureaucracy of distributing the meager resources knows well what kind of tortuous path it is.



Nobody is more fitting than the current finance minister to illustrate the farce of fund distribution. Along with former Jewish Agency Chairman Avraham Burg, he managed about a decade ago the negotiations meant to continue the flow of European money. On whose behalf?


Did he ask the survivors who they prefer to represent them? Of course not. Now, at the post of finance minister, we would expect Hirchson to be the first to make the lives of survivors easy by using exactly the same funds his colleague and him were able to bring to Israel on the survivors' behalf.


Yet politics is stronger than anything: The minister is currently occupied with more important matters – political fees to other parties, the distribution of budgets for coalition purposes, and more.


The State of Israel also "knows" how to show its appreciation to those who saved Jews and live in its territory. The embarrassing affair of "righteous gentiles" who lived here for years without as much as medical insurance is an eternal disgrace. Only through the intervention of Shevach Weiss, the State agreed to earmark a minor sum of money in order to insure those who saved members of the Jewish people.


To our regret, Holocaust survivors are becoming fewer. Those who are alive today are elderly people who only wish to avoid being humiliated again. They do not cry out and yell, but rather, make do with what they have. At least allow them to enjoy the rest of their lives. Afford them the financial opportunity to at least provide their grandchildren with the candy that they, during those terrible times, did not get to enjoy.


The writer is a historian and national security expert


פרסום ראשון: 12.21.06, 18:24
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