holocaust survivors 248 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Retired justice Dalia Dorner convened on Tuesday the first meeting of the judicial commission of inquiry into the government's handling of Holocaust survivors and said she had received many complaints from survivors regarding improper treatment.
"The community of Holocaust survivors deserves a special response from the State of Israel," said Dorner at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, where the hearings will take place. "According to the many letters the commission has received until now, we see there are problems that deserve to be addressed."
The Knesset State Control Committee, headed by MK Zevulun Orlev (NU/NRP), voted to establish the commission on January 7. Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch appointed the three-person committee, which also includes Professors Omer Moav and Zvi Eisokovits.
During the opening session at Yad Vashem, Orlev said, "The commission is the hope of the survivors to regain their respect. The government has a great deal of money in its pockets, but it suffers from a hardening of the heart. I hope and believe that the commission of inquiry will erase the shame of the state's attitude towards the survivors."
He urged the commission members to work quickly, saying that 40 survivors die each day.
Dorner has promised that the commission will complete its work by April.
The decision to establish the commission of inquiry was originally sparked by a highly critical report on the dire circumstances of many Holocaust survivors, which was included in the state comptroller's annual report for 2007.
In the wake of the report, the government passed a resolution to prepare legislation listing all the benefits the survivors would receive. It also decided to give immediate aid to 8,000 survivors who had been in ghettos, concentration camps or labor camps and who had fallen through the cracks because they were not receiving aid from the German or Israeli governments.
The failure of the government to live up to its timetable on either promise sparked the Knesset State Control Committee to vote for the commission's establishment.
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