Sir, – If – as Chairman of the Claims Conference Julius
Berman asserts – Germany bore the entire cost of the fraud of $57 million
committed by Claims Conference employees, how does he explain the fact that
there are a vast number of Holocaust survivors in Israel, the US and elsewhere
who are nonetheless living in severely impoverished circumstances (“After
botched probe, Claims Conference head addresses accountability,” May 24)?
Everybody in the Jewish world should be concerned in ensuring that for the first
time in its history there is both transparency and accountability in the
workings and finances of the Claims Conference.
That The Jerusalem Post,
on the same day, reports that members of the US Congress have introduced
legislation to improve care for the estimated 120,000 Holocaust survivors living
in the US should be a wake up call for Congress to also demand transparency of
Claims Conference finances now.
Sir, – Julius
Berman and his cronies sit atop billions in undisbursed funds at the Claims
Conference (“Berman to ‘Post’: Claims Conference senior staff unaware of fraud
until 2009,” May 23).
They must enjoy the convenient smokescreen of a
mere $50 million embezzlement by their own employees. Indeed, the real
embezzlement is the fact that Berman will not release the hundreds of millions
that, as The Jerusalem Post reports, are there “to secure restitution for
Holocaust survivors and their heirs from the German government.”
son of two disabled, nearly impecunious 90-year-old survivors, I can attest to
the fact that there is virtually no funding available for those in dire need of
aid. The Claims Conference knows very well who every single living survivor is,
as there are only a handful left. It could easily take care of all of them
properly, with hundreds of millions still left to be embezzled by its
Instead, any survivor in need must go hat-in-hand and beg one
of the myriad social service agencies that are contracted by the Claims
Conference for this purpose. The lucky ones will be summoned for a grilling by a
bureaucratic sinecure before being served a blizzard of forms that would confuse
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Assuming the survivor manages to get the forms completed,
the social services agency will inform them that there are no funds available.
Survivors who have already been getting help are often told that their
allocations are being cut back owing to lack of funding from the Claims
Berman and his gang should be criminally prosecuted for
violating the very raison d’etre of the Claims Conference. They sit safely in
plush Park Avenue offices, inured to the rabble outside, while running circles
around government investigators.
Jerusalem Full facts
Sir – The
reported last week that a group of South African tourists had
been advised by their tour guide to cover the word Israel on their caps whilst
touring the Old City out of fear of offending the Palestinians (“Just don’t do
it,” May 24).
I was so incensed by this report that I personally
contacted Pastor Steyn of Menorah Tours, who assured me that he had had no
knowledge of it until he was contacted by a Jerusalem Post reporter and the
Pastor Steyn assured me that all his life he has been
pro-Israel and supportive of different welfare organizations in the country,
adding that unlike the previous 140 tours of Israel that his company has
arranged, he was unable to join this one for health reasons, but that he intends
to take the incident up with the guide in question.
It was clear by
Steyn’s reply that he has a great love of Israel and the Jewish people and it is
a shame that The Jerusalem Post could not have given the full facts instead of
damaging the image of someone who is clearly a friend of ours.
Sir, – That Gershon Baskin continues to
level blame on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the failure to revive peace
talks is not surprising (“Who is not a peace partner?” Encountering Peace,
Comment and Features, May 23).
However, his statement that our prime
minister has refused to meet with PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas is patently
false. Both during his previous term as prime minister and during the current
term, Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that he is prepared to meet Abbas at any
time for peace talks, in Jerusalem or in Ramallah, or abroad, but without
Now that Baskin recommends that Palestinians should come
to the negotiation table without preconditions of any kind, maybe he should
convey this recommendation to his confidante, Abbas, reminding him of
Netanyahu’s repeated offer.
While Baskin states that it will be
inexcusable for Netanyahu to waste another four years, it is, in fact, much more
inexcusable for Abbas to do just this.MONTY M. ZION T
Gershon Baskin has written yet another beautifully constructed piece of prose,
but please tell me how many elected Israeli prime ministers have PhDs in
Holocaust denial? How many Israeli education ministers ensure their schools’
curricula show no Arab states as neighbors and call for the destruction of all
Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians? What happened in London last week was real.
What is happening in Stockholm is real – why does Baskin reject reality?
Sir, – In Ury Eppstein’s review of La Traviata,
he left out what we considered a cheapening of the last act of the opera
(“Stereotypical realism in ‘La Traviata,’” Opera Review, May 23).
the scene before Violetta’s death scene, where she attended Flora’s “baccanale”
party, clearly staged as an orgy.
Three so-called “Spanish” dancers
arrived clothed in long capes, which they then threw off to dance bare breasted
around the stage.
We are not prudes by any means, but the whole scene
cheapened the opera and was totally unnecessary and pointless.
This is a
beautiful opera which does not need nudity. We expect more from a director of
the Israel Opera productions.JAN GAINES, MILLIE KAPAROVSKY AND BARBARA
Logic and vision
Sir, – Kudos to Ari Briggs for his
well-reasoned and candid analysis of the EU recommendation for its 27 member
states to “prevent” Israeli activity in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights,
and for his comments about the BDS movement (“Et tu, EU? No Dutch treat here,”
Comment and Features, May 22).
My admiration also extends to his
revelation of the discriminating approach and double standard of those who
choose to boycott Israel rather than China and Turkey – who have forcefully
occupied areas and persecuted their peoples. Bravo also to the Dutch Parliament
who listened to his voice of reason and decided to remove the labeling laws from
its agenda, at least for now.
My hope is that more moral and enlightened
people will listen to the logic and clear vision of Mr. Briggs and that he can
persuade the nations and peoples of the world who seek to undermine the Jewish
nation as a whole – and Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights in particular – to
reconsider.YOCHEVED MIRIAM ZEMEL
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