Minister slams 'inconsistent treatment' of survivors

Welfare Minister says it is an "embarrassment" that Holocaust survivors not recognized by the government.

Knesset caucus on Holocaust survivors 370 (photo credit: MK Yifat Kariv's Office)
Knesset caucus on Holocaust survivors 370
(photo credit: MK Yifat Kariv's Office)
The government must do more to take care of the few living Holocaust survivors as soon as possible, the Knesset Caucus for Holocaust Survivors said in a conference Monday.
Much of the conference, which took place at the Knesset, focused on the many survivors the government does not recognize nor receive state benefits.
Welfare Minister Meir Cohen called it an “embarrassment” that there is a discrepancy of tens of thousands in the numbers his ministry and the Finance Ministry have for living survivors.
“This does not suit the Jewish state that the survivors so wanted to reach. We’ll change the rules of the game and give them respect,” he said.
Cohen called for the government offices and NGOs dealing with survivors to create one joint list.
Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy said that Finance Minister Yair Lapid sees helping Holocaust survivors as his personal responsibility, pointing out that the first thing he did in office was create a NIS 50 million fund for them.
“The problem with this issue is that everyone agrees on it, so when push comes to shove, [no one is passionate enough] and it doesn’t get taken care of,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein lamented. “I hope this caucus, and Knesset committees and government offices will be able to give a green light to all of the aid initiatives.”
Education Minister Shai Piron read aloud a text message from his mother, who saw him listing names of relatives slain by the Nazis in the official Knesset Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony earlier Monday.
The message mentioned a living relative who survived the Holocaust, doesn’t have children, and feels alone.
“It cannot be that in the State of Israel a Holocaust survivor can feel there is no one in the world behind her, helping her,” Piron said.
Piron also pointed to the importance of teaching youth about the Holocaust.
“Young people need to be a mouthpiece for survivors. It is their responsibility to continue telling the stories of survivors and turn them into a legacy,” he said.
Pensioners’ Affairs Minister Uri Orbach mentioned the counting of the Omer that takes place in the days between Passover and Shavuot, explaining that during those days, observant Jews are in mourning as a result of Rabbi Akiva’s students disrespecting each other.
“We need to respect these survivors,” he said. “Pensioners’ Affairs is a small ministry, but we only deal with pensioners, so I will lead the effort and do all I can with good will and dedication.”
MK Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid), who organized the conference together with MKs Elazar Stern (Hatnua) and Dov Henin (Hadash), called it a “moral imperative to make sure there is not one Holocaust survivor in the State of Israel who is unable to live in a worthy, dignified way.”
Stern pointed to increased media coverage of the treatment of Holocaust survivors and expressed hope that calls to help will continue to get them attention.