Welfare Ministry D-G: PM to have last word on help to survivors

Says next task is to define who requires state help and then to get the help to them as fast as possible.

holocaust survivor 298ap (photo credit: AP [file])
holocaust survivor 298ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has shown much more sensitivity to the needs of low-income Holocaust survivors than previous ones, according to Welfare and Social Services Ministry director-general Nachum Itzkovitz, who chaired a committee that made recommendations on financial assistance and is himself the son of Holocaust survivors. Itzkovitz was speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday about the special State Comptroller's Report on how survivors have been treated by Israel's governments over the years, which was issued on Wednesday. The director-general said the next task was to define "who is a Holocaust survivor" and who is needy and requires state help, and then to get the help to them as fast as possible. Itzkovitz added that Olmert and Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog were personally involved in the issue and that he himself had had several meetings devoted to the subject with both of them this week, as well as sessions with heads of survivors' groups. "Sixty-two years after the end of the Holocaust, it is difficult to differentiate among the various categories of survivors. We intend to help the weakest and the poorest. But the proposals will be decided by the prime minister, with input by the Treasury. The Finance Ministry can help or hurt," he said. "Some in the Treasury are more sensitive to the issue, while others unfortunately view aid to survivors only as another line in the state budget." Itzkovitz said the media had played an important role in raising the issue, leading to the State Comptroller's Report, but in recent weeks, he complained, there had been "some exaggerations" in the press about what survivors actually get. As a member of the second generation of Holocaust survivors, Itzkovitz said he "cannot deny that the subject is an emotional one for me that I have personal knowledge about. I can understand the issues better than someone who does not have family who survived the Holocaust."