Services Ministry to double budget for Holocaust survivors’ rights

Described as a positive step, activists still warn that needs of Holocaust survivors not yet fully met by new budget.

HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR Bella Avner and her family  (photo credit: AMIR COHEN - REUTERS)
HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR Bella Avner and her family
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN - REUTERS)
Services Minister Haim Katz promised on Monday to allocate NIS 7 million toward a variety of social benefits and services for the welfare of Holocaust survivors in 2017.
That would more than double the amount, up from NIS 3m., allocated in 2016, the first year of the program that he initiated.
Katz issued a call to Holocaust survivors and their families to “turn to us for all forms of assistance.... Holocaust survivors must grow old with dignity....
We refuse to force survivors to choose between food and the purchase of medicine or dental treatment.”
Starting this week, the campaign will begin by raising awareness of this new budget allocated to improve the welfare and quality of life of survivors.
Himself the son of Holocaust survivors, the Likud minister has been working toward improving the treatment and condition of Israel’s Holocaust survivors, since assuming his position in 2015.
“Every Holocaust survivor can contact their local social services department and receive funding for dental treatment, hearing aids, corrective lenses, heaters, air conditioners, refrigerators, washing and drying machines, essential furniture and home alarm systems,” he said in a statement issued Monday. “If necessary, survivors will also be entitled to the payment of arnona (municipal tax), electricity bills, water bills and any other essential payments that they cannot afford, without having to meet eligibility requirements for an unlimited amount of time.”
Even though the budget for these benefits has doubled from last year, Tamara Mor, of the Association for Immediate Help to Holocaust Survivors – a nonprofit that works to improve the lives of Holocaust survivors – does not believe this is nearly enough to adequately meet the needs of survivors living in Israel, many of whom are well over 90 years old and are in need of urgent medical care.
“Although I am very happy with his [Katz’s] efforts, I would like to see real action, and NIS 7m. is not real action,” Mor said. “He is taking a good step to fix a historical injustice, but it’s only a small, first step. We would like that to be directed immediately to survivors who are very old and very sick. They need help, and NIS 7m. is really nothing compared to the needs of these survivors.”