Holocaust survivor 311.
(photo credit: Etti Cohen)
Should reparations money given by the German government to Holocaust survivors
be used to build medical facilities and fund education? A committee set up by
the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, better known as the
Claims Conference, is reviewing the organization’s funding policy, which has
drawn the ire of some survivor groups and critics.
RELATED:Claims Conference: Berlin doubles survivor care fundsCandidly Speaking: Accountability for Claims Conference
The probe, chaired by
Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee and consisting of members of
various Jewish organizations, met for its first session on February 2 in New
York and is expected to submit its report in July.
Opinions regarding the
allocation of money toward building hospital wings in Israel and educational
purposes varied among board members at the meeting, according to
Some argued that reparations money should be given exclusively
to elderly survivors, the youngest of whom are well into their 80s. Others said
investing some of the funds – between $6 million and $8m. per year out of a
budget of $272m. in 2011 – in hospitals was “proportional” and benefited many
ailing victims of the Nazis.
The Claims Conference on Monday said its
2011 budget, which comes chiefly from the German government but from various
other sources as well, represented a substantial increase from 2010, when it
paid out $208m., and 2009, when it distributed $170m.
In addition, the
Claims Conference allocates approximately $18m. per year for Shoah education,
documentation and research.
The board’s meeting was attended by most of
its members, with the exception of three Israel-based delegates, Noach Flug and
Zeev Factor, both from the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in
Israel, and Uri Chanoch, chairman of the Holocaust Survivors Association, who
cited “personal reasons” for their absence, and Jewish Agency chairman Nathan
Sharansky whose his flight was canceled. The next meeting will be held in