July 29: UNRWA cutbacks

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July 28, 2015 21:43
Letters

Letters. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Claims debate

It is with a heavy heart that we feel compelled to address your recent coverage of the Claims Conference. We are both survivors of the Shoah, and one of us is a member of the Claims Conference board of directors. We believe that your recent coverage, focusing on issues surrounding the Claims Conference in the run-up to the annual board meeting, is unbalanced and does your readers a disservice by not giving them a good understanding of the life-changing work we do on behalf of the 500,000 Holocaust victims around the world.

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This year, after many years of discussions with the German government, child survivors for the first time have started to receive payments from the new Child Survivor Fund. More than 130,000 Nazi victims in 47 countries receive vital aid and services which we fund, including home care, medicine, emergency assistance and hunger relief.

At the recent annual board meeting reviewing these significant achievements on behalf of Jewish Holocaust survivors over the past year, we noted to the Claims Conference leadership how impressed we are with the work that the organization has accomplished in just the past few years, adding to 60 years of historic achievements. From the 2013 milestone home care negotiations with the German government to this year’s establishment of the Child Survivor Fund, we continue to go from strength to strength. As always, our primary goal is the health and welfare of the hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors worldwide, who depend on the Claims Conference to help them live out their lives with an added measure of dignity.

SIDNEY ZOLTAK
Co-President, Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants
PINCHAS GUTTER Vice President, Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants

UNRWA cutbacks

Regarding your story on UNRWA cuts to Palestinians (“UNRWA cutbacks in services anger Palestinians,” July 27), the massive influx of refugees (mostly illegal) into Europe would most probably have caused financially stressed donor countries to curtail their support for UNRWA anyway.

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This would have come after evaluating the long-term Palestinian refugee problem and concluding there was no viable solution despite UNRWA’s continuous injection of taxpayer money over many years.

Instead of blaming UNRWA, Palestinians should be directing their frustration toward their own leadership who have diverted vast sums of money donated to Gaza and the PA to fortify their own agenda and enrich their corrupt cronies.

GISH TRUMAN ROBBINS
Pardesiya

More good deeds


I was stunned at reading Alisa Tennebaum’s letter ‘Good British deeds’ (July 27), seeing that most of it could have been written by me.

My father, then Bernard Knapp, and his two brothers, were also arrested in Graz, Austria, soon after the Germans marched into Austria in 1938 in what is called the ‘Anschluss.’ Within a very short time of their arrest they were sent to Dachau. After some horrifying three months, 6,000 British visas arrived at the camp from a group of British Jews who had received permission by the British government to try and secure the release of 6,000 Jewish (and some non-Jewish) prisoners as long as they had professions which Britain needed.

As my father had studied to be a tailor in Vienna and thus had a much admired ‘Vienna Shneider Meister’ certificate, he was one of the lucky 6,000 released (as were his brothers).

Most of the released prisoners were taken to England where they were enlisted into the British army with the title of The Pioneer Corps. When World War II war broke out, they had to change their names so that if they were captured by the enemy they would be considered to be British and not former German or Austrian Jews who had fled their ‘homelands’ – something that might endanger their lives as non-British Jewish POWs. My father had changed his name to the far more British Herbert Kingston and, luckily wasn’t captured.

Indeed, he fought bravely throughout France and Belgium, like many other former Dachau prisoners.

My mother and I remained in Graz until a good Christian Austrian friend of hers begged her to take me (then almost 2) and join my father in England. Luckily, we managed to get onto the very last plane out of Austria to England via Holland just six weeks before the war broke out. Thus that good ‘righteous gentile’ Austrian lady also played a part in saving our lives.

TRUDY GEFEN
Kiryat Ono

Bring them home

I was delighted to learn that Interior Minister Silvan Shalom intends to bring the 7,000 member of the Beta Israel to Israel (“Families of 500 IDF soldiers to be brought here,” July 27). However, it is sadly not true that the families of IDF veterans are eligible for aliya.

Under a government decision, only the parents of IDF veterans are eligible. Moreover, according to the Absorption Ministry, even they are not eligible for immigration benefits previously granted to Ethiopian immigrants.

Thus, Minister of Absorption Ze’ev Elkin recently denied government immigration benefits to the families of two IDF soldiers.

Similarly 300 people recently approved for aliya by a special Interior Ministry committee headed by Moshe Vigdor, are not being brought to Israel by the Jewish Agency because they too are being denied immigration benefits package. Sadly there are an additional 400 people who have had valid aliya permits for over three years – granted for humanitarian reasons – that the Jewish Agency has not brought because the Absorption Ministry will not provide them with the minimal benefits previously granted other Ethiopian immigrants.

It is Kafkaesque; humanitarian cases have been singled out by the Absorption Ministry for the denial of humanitarian assistance.

JOSEPH FEIT
Lawrence, New York

The writer, a human rights lawyer, previously served as the president of NACOEJ.


Huckabee hoopla

Regarding Mike Huckabee’s statement the American agreement with Iran, (“Huckabee faces blowback for Holocaust rhetoric on Iran,” July 28), I’m having a difficult time understanding why the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish organizations took such offense to his remark. These same organizations (as well as the Jewish media, the Israeli government, and countless pundits on social media) have continually compared the Iran deal to Chamberlain’s deal with Hitler, reiterated the mantra “never again,” and have even directly compared the Iranians genocidal intentions with that of Hitler’s.

Certainly Huckabee’s remark was more raw and painful for many to hear, but considering our calls to stop this awful deal from going through are falling on deaf ears, perhaps we are at the point where the direct reference to the travesties of the Holocaust are necessary to be said.

I think it’s also worth noting that the remark was made by a man who has shown unequivocal support for Israel, and I truly believe he didn’t make such a statement for political purposes, but rather for his utmost concern for Israel and its people. In these very trying times let’s focus our criticism towards our enemies and not towards our friends.

AVI SCHREIBER Hashmonaim

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