Itongadol.- "I thought that only Jews lived in Palestine, but what you are doing to the Holocaust survivors is a crime," said Holocaust survivor Dora Roth, in a deliberation at the Knesset. The discussion on the Holocaust survivors\’ situation occurred in light of the publication of a survey conducted by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.
Roth blamed the authorities for the survivors\’ state of affairs. "My father was killed in Paneriai, I was in the Warsaw and Vilna ghettos for six years and was shot twice in the back by German soldiers. I suffered from tuberculosis and orphanhood and came to Israel without knowing what Zionism was."
Roth also said that "the State received compensation to sustain the survivors until the end of their lives. What did you do with the money?! Seeing a Holocaust survivor that doesn\’t have money for food or heat, is your disgrace, the disgrace of this house (of parliament). It was very hard to live with this for six years; I was hungry and dreaming of bread. The committees are unnecessary. Do one thing – let the remaining survivors… let us die honorably without deliberations."
In a survey conducted at the beginning of the month, 67% of the 500 survivors who participated in the survey testified that they were dissatisfied with the way the government is taking care of them and 22% claimed that the governmental treatment of Holocaust survivors has been worsening.
Some 49% of those asked testified to be suffering from health problems and 25% attested to enduring economic difficulties.
"There is this fund and that committee… I am shocked that no one took this issue and unified it under one umbrella," said Welfare Minister Meir Cohen.
"We have a small window of opportunities; I am prepared to take the treatment upon myself, so that the Welfare Ministry will deal with the entire issue, set regulations and attain the money from the Finance Ministry."
\’Put an end to disgrace\’
Committee Chairman MK Haim Katz said "we must put an end to this disgrace." Katz said that he would place a bill on the Knesset\’s table to anchor the treatment of all Holocaust survivors under one authority.
Avi Dichter, Chairman of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel said that "within 10 years, we will need to treat a very small number of survivors. The question is how do we honor the survivors while they are still alive? Some 50,000 are considered poverty-stricken by the State. Removing poverty is not difficult."
Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid), who was present at the deliberation, said that "when the needs are determined we will find the suitable budgets for them, despite the current budgetary pit.
MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua), former chairman of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel, responded to him saying "what is \’when the needs (are determined)\’? Don\’t put this in the hands of the treasury. They guard the money; they don\’t want to give it up."
MK Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid) said "there are endless reports. What needs to be done is clear. There are four issues that must be dealt with now: Who is considered a survivor, which ministry will be handling coordinations, what will the services basket budget be and how can we limit the bureaucracy."