(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Holocaust survivors groups on Wednesday accused Clalit Health Services and the government of not allocating money given to them by Germany to take care of survivors’ medical and other problems.
The most serious charges – leveled at the Knesset Finance Committee – were that Clalit has received monies from Germany for years and continues to pocket them, instead of allocating them for treatments and drugs for survivors. The survivors claimed that Clalit has received “hundreds of millions of euros” for treating the elderly survivors, but that the benefits did not reach them.
The health fund, however, said that it had not received a list of the survivors for whom they got the money. The health fund “was not given lists” of names, argued Clalit treasurer Avi Steinberg.
Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) demanded that Clalit officials immediately provide his committee with details about the funds and to whom they are owed.
Gafni pledged to promote legislation that would “force the state and others” to take care of the last survivors and make sure they receive all the rights they are entitled to.
He said this was only the first discussion, and that he would “not give up until we solve all the problems.” He called on the Social Equality Ministry to transfer its authority in this matter to the Survivors Rights Authority.
Yael Kubo, the daughter of survivor parents who have died and who heads a group filing a class-action suit against Clalit, said the health fund “has hidden the fact that it received hundreds of millions of euros, doing all it could to tire the survivors and their families out with a mountain of bureaucracy.”
Now, she continued, after a compromise was reached in court, the state must ensure that the money that accumulated in Clalit be allocated while the survivors – in their 80s and beyond – are still alive.
Kubo said that if Clalit had wanted to identify the needy survivors, it could have used the media to find them, “but they didn’t even do that. Even in cases like my mother’s, when survivors demanded the money, the health fund ignored them.”
Clalit lawyer Amir Dolev said that according to the court compromise, descendants of survivors who died can get compensation for money they personally spent for treating their loved ones because they did not receive the health fund’s help.
MK Mickey Levi (Yesh Atid) criticized the claim by the health fund that the money was meant to treat only diseases caused by conditions in the Holocaust.
“Clalit received hundreds of millions of euros, and we now demand that the survivors get free treatments [no matter what the direct cause of their ailments] without filling out forms and red tape.”
Gafni called the fact that a multiplicity of bodies deal with this matter a “Holocaust festival” that occurs annually around Holocaust Remembrance Day in April or May.
Survivor Ya’acov Agmon turned his fire against Holocaust survivors organizations and other groups that deal with survivors, calling on them to shut down because “they waste much money....I survived the Holocaust, but none of the groups ever contacted me. I never heard of them. I mean those in which [former MK] Limor Livnat and [former ambassador] Colette Avital are involved. There is plenty of money there, and exaggerated salaries. There has to be one official state body that must transfer the money directly to the survivors.”
He added that there should no longer be ads placed in the newspapers to “help” survivors use their rights or advance lawsuits abroad.
“They take advantage of the innocence of survivors, take money and do nothing,” he said.