Herzog “deeply ashamed” at situation of survivors

Monday, April 16, 2007 |  by Staff Writer
Social Affairs Minister, Yitzhak Herzog, said that he felt “deeply ashamed” at the situation of thousands of Holocaust survivors who are living in deplorable conditions.

Herzog met on Sunday with representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs, the National Insurance Institute, the Jewish Agency and officials from the prime minister’s office to discuss the situation of thousands of Holocaust survivors forced to live on their government stipends that barely allow them to make ends meet.

Herzog was presented with the latest figures showing that there are presently 250,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel. Out of that approximately 20,000 receive reparations from Germany and another 40,000 receive stipends from the State of Israel. More than 180,000 survivors receive no support at all. There are a reported 80,000 of those who are living in dire poverty and many of them are alone, with no children, and in their old age having to beg for assistance.

“I felt deeply ashamed, the situation we’re faced with in terms of the conditions Holocaust survivors are living in is completely absurd,” said Herzog, himself a descendant of a family of survivors. “I ask myself, how did we get to a situation where they are not entitled to anything?”

Herzog intends to pursue legislation that will bring about a complete reform of the State’s treatment of survivor needs. He has demanded that the Ministry of Finance immediately transfer control of Holocaust survivor affairs to the welfare department, and has sworn to rectify the “shameful situation.”

"I don't want to make empty promises, but I intend to present a program that will deal with every necessary aspect of this problem. We need to move towards legislation that will merge all bodies handling the needs of survivors so that the sole address will be the welfare ministry," Herzog said.

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