Israel to Transfer NIS 400m to Holocaust Survivors Over Four Years

Finance Minister Yair Lapid reverses previous treasury decision not to provide additional funding to reinstate nursing hours for survivors.

A multi-year plan to increase support for Holocaust survivors was announced by Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday during the weekly cabinet meeting. Under the plan, which was drawn up in conjunction with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the state will allot an additional NIS 100 million every year between 2013 and 2017 for the benefit of Holocaust survivors. This sum will be added to the NIS 3 billion the state already spends today on care for Holocaust survivors.

Likewise, Lapid announced two weeks ago that he would transfer NIS 50 million in government funds to the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel to reinstate the nursing hours that had been cut recently due to a lack of funding. Following the government's announcement, the foundation released its own announcement that it was opening a channel for issuing grants for 2013. The Finance Ministry under its previous minister, Yuval Steinitz (Likud), had prevented the transfer of funds due to what it characterized as wasteful spending by the foundation, even when the foundation threatened that it would have to halt services.

The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel was founded by Holocaust survivors in 1994 and is the largest non-profit in Israel providing assistance to Holocaust survivors. The foundation has an annual turnover of close to half a billion shekels per year and is used as a channel for distributing funds to Holocaust survivors. A review of the organization's financial statements conducted six months ago by Haaretz revealed that the salary of the foundation's CEO was close to NIS 500,000 per year. In 2010, for example, salary and overhead costs exceeded NIS 10.5 million.

The foundation rejected the Finance Ministry's assertion that it engaged in wasteful spending, saying, "[The organization] is subject to inspections by the treasury, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and the Registrar of Non-Profit Associations.

The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel is funded directly by the treasury to the tune of more than NIS 140 million per year, to which the additional funds just approved by Lapid will be added. The foundation is one of three organizations, according to the Finance Ministry, that provide care to Holocaust survivors and receive government support. For the sake of comparison, the other two organizations receive NIS 2 million and NIS 200,000 per year in Finance Ministry support.

Nir Kafri