Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik apologized Monday to Holocaust survivors on behalf of the State for neglecting their needs over the past few decades.
During a special Knesset session held following Sunday’s agreement between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the survivors’ representatives, Itzik said, “Israel demanded reparation funds from Germany, but did not allocate them in a just and logical manner to those who needed them.
“We are here to rectify the situation so that we may be able to look into the survivors’ eyes, and tell them on behalf of Israeli society - ‘We apologize’,” she said.
'He died with nothing'
According to the agreement, death camp survivors will receive an additional NIS 1,200 ($285) a month in benefits, while Holocaust survivors who were not in the camps – some 150,000 people – will wait for Olmert's comprehensive elderly relief program, which is slated to take care of Israel's elderly population in general.
MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) said during the session, “According to the deal, if Anne Frank were alive today she would not have been recognized as a Holocaust survivor because she was not taken to a death camp. This indicates how absurd the government’s decision is.”
Pensioners Party MK Rafi Eitan said the survivors’ representatives would meet with government officials within the next two weeks to negotiate the allowances for Holocaust survivors who were not in the camps.
MK Sara Marom Shalev, a Holocaust survivor herself, demanded that the Knesset delay its approval of the 2008 State budget until the matter is resolved.
“We (survivors) are not at an age where we can wait any longer (for the funds). Only yesterday I was at a funeral of a Holocaust survivor friend who died with nothing,” she said.
“I ask that the finance minister (Ronnie Bar-On) at least allocate the funds to the survivors, in accordance with the agreement, by the beginning of the High Holydays.”