Holocaust Remembrance Day: Israel Doing Enough for Survivors?

[The following is Yossi Melman’s personal opinion, as he watched Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies in Israel on Sunday evening and Monday.]

My true feelings on the eve of our Holocaust Remembrance Day are of shame. Israeli governments and some corporations (such as Bank Leumi, which for many years withheld the funds of people who perished and refused to release the money to their relatives) are so hypocritical. They praise the bravery of the World War Two Partisans and the Warsaw Ghetto fighters — now saluting the 70th anniversary of the uprising in Poland against Nazi occupiers — and promise never to forget.  The phrase, “Never again!” repeatedly rings in our ears.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, seen on Israel’s Channel 2, at Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day) ceremony at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

The Chief of the General Staff — himself a son of Holocaust survivors — is leading the March of the Living in Poland, with its show of mass defiance at the gates of Auschwitz.

But there are still 180,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel. One-third of them live in poverty. Thousands of them are in despicable conditions. The bureaucratic machinery is doing everything to deny them the very little to which they are entitled: financial support, housing subsidies, medication, discounts on their utilities, and so on.

Israeli governments, leftist and rightist, consistently promised in the last two decades — promised? swore! — to improve the situation of the Holocaust survivors and to reform a system which essentially was wicked. But it turned out that very little was done.

 

April 6, 2013

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