10 May 2016

Israeli Policy is to wait for the remaining Holocaust survivors to die

Israel can afford billions of dollars for nuclear weapons and arms.  Missiles to bomb Gaza are never in short supply.  The holocaust is a convenient weapon to be employed as a justification for Israel’s barbaric policies towards the Palestinians .  Money for settlements is no problem but when it comes to looking after the remaining survivors of the holocaust, then Israel is as stingy and parsimonious as it is possible to be.  Despite the fact that the money for the holocaust survivors comes from money paid in reparations by the German Government.

Below we read of the fight between the Finance Ministry and the World Zionist Organisation.  It has lasted for 11 months, by which time many of those eligible have already died die off.  This suits both parties.  The WZO which funds a settlement program in the West Bank and which was the recipient, with the Israeli government, of reparations, cannot find the money.  The same WZO which, in the guise of the Jewish Agency, was indifferent to the holocaust.

Israel is one of the most unequal societies in the western world.  There is a fabulously rich oligarchy and a large class of the impoverished.  47.4% Arab families are living in poverty, 3.5 times as many as Jewish families. [See In poverty report, Arab sector sees improvement, while haredi sector gets poorer  Jerusalem Post 16.12.14].
Eliezer and Chana Tzinman. Photo by Tomer Appelbau

Israeli Holocaust Survivors in Need to Receive One-time Passover Benefit

Some 11,000 survivors have not received benefits for 10 months due to a legal dispute between the funding companies.

By Lee Yaron, Haaretz
April 06, 2016

Eleven thousand Holocaust survivors who have not received benefits for the past 10 months will receive a one-time payment this month.

Arranged by MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism,) the payment will relieve the distress of survivors caught up in a legal dispute, which neither the World Zionist Organization (WZO) nor the Finance Ministry seems able or willing to resolve.

“I can now afford fewer medications for me and my wife, even though this harms our health,” 88-year-old Holocaust survivor Eliezer Tzinman told Haaretz. “I’ve stopped eating fruit and buy less food. We eat only bread since that’s all I can afford. If there is really cheap fruit on Fridays we get some. We don’t turn use heat since we can’t afford the electricity.”

Tzinman, who came to Israel from Ukraine, lives with his wife on 5,000 shekels ($1,670) a month. Since June, when his benefits stopped, they’ve had to make do with 4,000 shekels a month.

“The benefit was the mainstay of our income,” he said. “I can’t use public transportation due to my health and now I can’t get to my doctor since I can’t afford a taxi. We only want our benefits back.”

The dispute is between the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ Assets and a holding company called Otsar Hityashvuth Hayehudim, which is partly owned by the WZO. The former company provides 2,700 shekels to needy survivors every three months. However, it ran into solvency problems in June and the only funds currently available are the holding company’s Bank Leumi shares.

Though both entities have committed themselves to reaching a legal settlement promptly, funds have not been transferred to the survivors. Not even several Knesset committee sessions on the issue have succeeded in breaking the deadlock. Only through Gafni’s intervention was a one-time payment arranged before Passover.

The Treasury was going to guarantee a loan for the company for restitution to enable it to continue paying the benefits, but nothing has come of it as yet.

Another option was that funds be transferred from the Jewish National Fund until the dispute is settled. Its director agreed to do so after an appeal by MK Meirav Michaeli (Zionist Camp) but the WZO has yet to give its approval.

Gafni has appealed to the attorney general to assist in finding a solution to the problem. “The WZO should allow the JNF to transfer these funds or come to an arrangement with the company for restitution,” he told Haaretz.

“We can’t continue with this foot-dragging. Every day there are fewer survivors. This is the weakest segment of society and the hardest hit among survivors, who have enough problems already.”

Tens of thousands of Israeli Holocaust survivors are living in abject poverty

As the world marks Holocaust Memorial Day, a generation whose childhood was taken by the Nazis is spending its final years struggling with hunger, cold and homelessness

The Telegraph 27.1.16.

Asia Komisarov's father was killed by the Nazis in Russia. She and her mother survived and she moved to Israel as part of a wave of Russian immigration in the 1990s. She lived in a crumbling flat in Jaffa but was forced out when her landlords wanted to raise prices Photo: Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors

7:00AM GMT 27 Jan 2016

Isaac walks a shuffling path through the valley of rotting newspapers and piled-up rubbish bags that swamp his small kitchen.

Despite the January cold he wear sandals as he picks his way through the squalor to the toilet.

Awaiting him there is a bath with no hot water and a small sink that is black with rot and mold.

The crumbling flat in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, has no oven and the 79-year-old subsists mainly off crisps, raw vegetables and powdered soup made with an electric kettle.

It is a sad and stark situation for an old man whose earliest memories are hiding from the Nazis in cellar beneath a Ukrainian pigsty, cramped in with ten other frightened Jews as they waited for rsecue or for death.

The squalor of a flat belonging to Isaac, a Holocaust survivor whose childhood was spent hiding in a cellar beneath a pigsty in Ukraine
Isaac, who asked that his surname not be published, is one of thousands of Israeli Holocaust survivors living out their final days out in poverty.

As the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday, we will see haunting black-and-white images of children caught up in Hitler’s industrialised slaughter.

Many of those children are now in their late eighties, struggling with ill health and trying to survive on meagre pensions and small compensation payments still made to survivors of the Holocaust.

A survey in 2015 found that of the roughly 189,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, about 45,000 are in poverty. In the two other major population centers for survivors - New York City and the countries of the former Soviet Union - the rates of destitution are even worse.

“These people suffered so much at the beginning of their lives, they shouldn’t have to go through any more suffering at the end of their lives,” said Tamara More, chief executive of the Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors.

The all-volunteer network supports Isaac and around 3,000 others across Israel, focusing mainly on those in poverty. “Every day about 35 survivors die and we have so little time to try to make up for the injustice they have gone through,” Ms More said.

The average age of an Israeli Holocaust survivor is 87 and by 2025 almost all of the remaining survivors will probably have passed away. A 112-year-old Israeli survivor of Auschwitz is now thought to be the world’s oldest man.

Isaac, like many Holocaust survivors, is dedicated to his cats

Israel’s government knows time is running out and in 2014 it passed major legislation to ensure survivors get a minimum monthly payment of 2,200 shekels (£386). The bill also increased healthcare benefits and ended a discrepancy in the support given to those who came to Israel immediately after the war and those arrived later. Yair Lapid, the former finance minister who championed the bill, called it “an amendment to an historical injustice”.

The programme has helped many survivors but others are still trapped in poverty. Many of worst cases are among those who immigrated to Israel in the 1990s from the former Soviet Union but were unable to carry their Soviet pensions with them.

“The reason they're impoverished is because the security blanket is too small,” said Colette Avital, chair of the Centre Organization of Holocaust Survivors. “If you worked all your life but don’t have a pension then whatever allocation you get from being a victim of the Nazis is not enough.”

Asia Komisarov was just in just that situation. Mrs Komisarov was born in 1939 in Leningrad, now St Petersburg, and her father was killed by the Nazis during the brutal 872-day siege of the city.

She came to Israel in the 1990s as part of a wave of Russian Jewish immigration but was already well into her fifties and struggled to find regular work. She rented a dilapidated bolthole flat in Jaffa was forced out when her landlords decided to renovate and take advantage of the city’s gentrification and rising rent prices.

Mrs Komisarov was saved from homelessness by the Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors and moved into their care home until she died of pancreatic cancer last year.

The aging Holocaust survivor population has the problems confronting elderly people everywhere.
Many Israeli apartment buildings have no lifts, meaning the survivors face a choice between isolation in their flats or dozens of stairs. Loneliness is rampant, especially among those whose families did not survive the war.

But Tamara More, the volunteer network chief, has noticed something specific in her years working with survivors: an unusual affection to the stray cats that prowl the streets of Israeli cities.

“I think they may feel the cats lives are a little like their own. The cats are hungry, they’re on the streets and the survivors want to protect them,” she said.

Many survivors seek assurances from volunteers that their pets will be looked after when they pass away. As a result the Association’s building is patrolled by cats, including one that belonged to Asia Komisarov, and Ms More is trying to set up a home to look after the animals when the survivors are no longer there.

One of the reasons Isaac won’t move from his crumbling flat into a care home is a black cat called Mitzi. Although he has barely enough food for himself, he buys milk and yoghurt to lay out for her and other strays.

“I don’t know what’s in my future. I just know the cats are depending on me,” he said quietly. “Cats are good creatures. If you pet them and show them love they appreciate it.”

Association for Immediate Help for Holocaust Survivors: facebook.com/aihhs

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