October 8: Survivors left out in the cold

Holocaust survivors have been entitled to receive a 50 percent reduction on medications from Clalit Health Services.

Survivors left out in the cold
Sir, – Since May, 2010, Holocaust survivors have been entitled to receive a 50 percent reduction on medications from Clalit Health Services.
However, there is a weak group of survivors, who have no spokesmen, who spent the war years in the deadliest concentration camps, came to Israel in the 1940s after the war, and in the 1940s were coerced into accepting a minimum restitution payment from Germany and signing an agreement not to request any change or benefits in the future.
Because the meager restitution received by these survivors comes from Germany, Clalit Health Services and The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel do not recognize their right to receive a reduction on medications.
The survivors are told that only recipients of monthly payments from the Israeli treasury are eligible.
This injustice – against weak people who cannot afford paying basic bills, including medications – must be rectified immediately and without delay, as these elderly have no time for procrastination.
‘Tell the Jews we don’t blame them’
Sir, – I was born in beautiful Jaffa in 1930. My father was a very successful businessman and owned a tile production factory in Manshiya and a garage in al Nuzha. We were Christians and lived comfortably and peacefully with our Muslim and Jewish neighbors.
We lived on King George Street, and I used to go every day to Boustros Street near the clock tower, buy some pastries from Aboulafia and bring the newspaper al-Sha’b to my father. The editor, Hilmi Hanoun, was often a guest in our home.
My father also entertained the mayor of Jaffa, Dr. Yosef Haykal, and sometimes a distinguished guest from Beirut came to visit. His name was Charles Malik. My father also knew an important Jewish man named Agronsky who published an English newspaper called The Palestine Post. Father used to read it on Fridays.
My childhood was very happy before 1947. But in 1947 troubles began in our city. Jews were becoming militant and British Mandate personnel could not control them.
On two occasions men from Haj Amin el-Husseini’s group came to our home to speak with my father.
They asked him to give them money to buy guns to use against the Jews. My father was a peaceful man and he refused. We had Jewish neighbors who were friendly to us, and we invited our Jewish friends for tea and cakes to our home on Christmas day.
We had no problem with the Jews, but the mufti kept sending people to Jaffa and telling us to move out quickly so that the Jews could be destroyed.
One old man, a friend of my father from Jerusalem al- Quds, Nashashibi, came to visit and warned my father of big dangers. One week later my father’s garage in al Nuzha was set on fire.
Friends whispered to us that it was a gang of the mufti’s men who did it. Another time all the windows and doors of father’s tile production factory were smashed.
Father went to speak with Dr. Haykal, but he said he was helpless to do anything and suggested that we sell our home and leave Jaffa.
In April, 1948, Jewish military people, the Hagana, came marching into our neighborhood. They told us it would be safer for us to go to Haifa.
The fighting became more intense and finally father, mother, Leila and I packed what we could and went to Haifa. The next month we all went to Lebanon and lived with cousins in Beirut.
The news from Palestine was very bad and it looked like there would be a big war even in Lebanon. Father knew an American vice-consul in Beirut, and we were able to get visas for America.
The Palestine-Israel problem has always been a tragedy, but there could have been peace many years ago, except that the Muslim leaders refused to recognize the Jews in their new country. I don’t know if peace will ever come to that beautiful land.
I am now 80 years old and dream about seeing Jaffa again before I die.
Maybe one day my six grandchildren will be able to visit. I still have the keys to our old home. Please tell the Jews that we do not blame them for the troubles that began in 1947.
New York