Israeli State Funding of Holocaust Victims' Foundation Drops for Third Year

Over the past year, about 14,000 survivors, nearly 90 percent of whom are over 75, received funding from the organization to cover medical care.

Among those marking Holocaust Remembrance Day beginning on Wednesday evening will be Israel's 198,000 survivors.

While many of them are in financial distress, the state has, for example, been steadily cutting the funding it provides to the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.

Holocaust survivor
AP

By contrast, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, commonly known as the Claims Conference, which negotiated restitution with the German government after World War II, has boosted its financial support of that foundation, which provides economic and other assistance to the survivors.

In 2010, the budget of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims was NIS 422 million - NIS 169 million from the Finance Ministry and NIS 253 million from the Claims Conference. Last year, the budget was NIS 399 million, of which NIS 132 million was from the government and NIS 267 million from the claims organization.

The trend continued this year: NIS 116 million of the foundation's NIS 429-million budget is from the Israeli government, and NIS 313 million from the Claims Conference.

An analysis of the 52,500 people who received assistance last year from the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims shows that over 10,000 of them have no children. Fully 54 percent have no living spouse. About 65 percent of those asking for help from the organization were women.

The foundation was established in 1994 by the Center of Holocaust Survivor Organizations in Israel, with the backing of the Claims Conference.

Over the past year, about 14,000 survivors, nearly 90 percent of whom are over 75, received funding from the organization to cover medical care; by comparison, in 2008, only 40 percent of those assisted were over the age of 75.

The most common request, made by more than 40 percent of those seeking assistance, was for financial help for the purchase of medication. Funding for dental care was sought in 37 percent of the cases.

Over the past year, the foundation also provided custodial nursing care to nearly 20,000 survivors in the country. There was a decline last year in the number of survivors who received direct assistance of various kinds from the foundation, from about 60,000 in 2010 to 52,500 last year.

According to a report from the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, which engages in applied social research, a mere 0.4 percent of Israeli Holocaust survivors are under the age of 70; 44 percent are between 70 and 80; and 55 percent are over 80. The report's authors estimate that by 2025, only 48,000 of the survivors in Israel will still be alive.

"The thousands of survivors still among us cannot be allowed to live without dignity," said Elazar Stern, who chairs the Israeli Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims. "One of our tasks is to see to it that awareness of their needs is translated into means that make assistance to the needy among them possible. The younger generation will not forgive us if we don't care for the members of the older generation with the dignity they deserve."