The purpose of the state commission of inquiry into the government's treatment of Holocaust survivors is to propose ways to offer them immediate assistance, and not to find those responsible for their neglect, the committee's chair Dalia Dorner said yesterday.
In a bid to clarify her committee's role, the retired Supreme Court justice said the historical context of how Holocaust survivors have been treated by government was of less concern when compared to addressing their needs which, she added, take precedence over those of other underprivileged groups.
In the committee's charter drafted two weeks ago by State Control Committee chairman MK Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party), Orlev wrote that the commission's function was twofold: To offer an adequate response to the needs of survivors and to probe Israeli governments' policy toward them that led to the present situation.
In an interview with Haaretz, Dorner insisted: "The committee that I want to head will focus on what needs to be done to fix this distorted situation and that is what we should concentrate on. We need solutions now, as some of the survivors are already dead."
Despite Dorner's said emphasis, the committee is expected to probe the function of the office for rehabilitation of disabled persons, a branch of the Finance Ministry, which has been entrusted with transferring stipends to survivors since 1957. The office's functioning was heavily criticized in a recent report by State Comptroller Michael Lindenstrauss.
Dorner has vowed to examine every aspect of the issue, including the stance of Pensioners Affairs Minister Rafi Eitan who said three months ago that responsibility for the survivors should be assumed by the government of Germany. Eitan added that the Reparations Agreement signed with Israel in the 1950s, in which West Germany agreed to compensate survivors, should be revised.
"As a citizen of the state of Israel I read that Israel lost out in the agreement," she said, "but I believe that it is Israel's duty to provide for her citizens and in any case I am not going to tell Germany what to do."
She rejected welfare officials who recently claimed all elderly people in need should receive equal treatment. "There are social requirements and I've always believed in equality, but the Holocaust survivors are a historically unique sector. They are the last remnants that survived the hell that was one of the historical foundations on which the country was created. The Holocaust proved that the Jewish nation has an absolute need for its own country."