Knesset Approves Extra $289 Million for Holocaust Survivors

The bill, initiated by Finance Minister Yair Lapid, recognizes survivors who immigrated after 1953 and those persecuted by Nazis but not imprisoned in camps.

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Holocaust survivors demonstrating in February 2013, demanding larger government stipends.
Holocaust survivors demonstrating in February 2013, demanding larger government stipends.Credit: Nir Kafri

The Knesset passed a bill Monday night to increase funding for Holocaust survivors by 1 billion shekels ($289 million) per year. This sum will be divided among the 20,000 survivors living in Israel.

The bill, which passed its second and third readings, was initiated by Finance Minister Yair Lapid and includes private bills proposed by Haim Katz (Likud) and Elazar Stern (Hatnuah).

The bill gives 18,500 survivors of the ghettos and death camps who immigrated after 1953 the same benefits as their counterparts who arrived earlier. They will receive a monthly allowance of between 2,200 and 8,000 shekels, at a total cost of 277 million shekels.

Holocaust survivors who were persecuted by the Nazis but not imprisoned in ghettos or concentration camps are eligible for an annual grant of 3,600 shekels. A group of 150 people defined as "forced laborers" will receive an annual grant of 7,600 shekels.

The National Insurance Law will also be amended so that the benefits a survivor received under the Disabled Victims of Nazi Persecution Law will not affect his eligibility for additional funds from the National Insurance Institute.

In addition, surviving spouses of deceased Holocaust survivors will receive an extension on the 2,000-shekel monthly stipend, which had, prior to the bill, lasted for only the first three years after death.

At the vote Monday, Lapid reiterated a conversation he had with his father, Tommy Lapid, a Holocaust survivor. "At the end of the 1980s, I traveled with my father to Budapest. I asked him about the moment the war ended and he said the weirdest thing was that, suddenly, people didn't want to kill him. Seventy years later, many Holocaust survivors feel we are letting them die, since it is not only evil that kills, but apathy," Lapid said.

"This is not just an amendment, but the correction of a bureaucratic injustice suffered by Holocaust survivors. It's not just the money they will get, but a simplification of the bureaucratic process," Lapid said, adding that the real test of the law will be how it is implemented.

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