Leumi's Holocaust Day Facebook Post Triggers Storm of Angry Comments

Hundreds say they have not forgotten bank's battle to keep victims' assets.

A Facebook post published by Bank Leumi to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day triggered hundreds of furious responses, a backlash against the bank's lengthy legal bout with a firm responsible for the retrieval of funds deposited by Holocaust victims.

The Facebook status update on Leumi Digital read, "Leumi marks the memory of the Holocaust's victims." That prompted hundreds of comments such as, "Leumi, maybe return the theft instead of remembering"; "Leumi definitely remembers, remembers their bank accounts"; "Leumi marks the memory of the victims of Leumi accounts"; and "some of them die while you remember." The Bank's Facebook officials deleted dozens of the responses.

Leumi and Hashava - The Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets ended the battle last year, when they agreed that the bank would pay the company NIS 130.8 million, which would go to the heirs of Holocaust victims and to projects that help survivors. The company had originally been seeking NIS 300 million for funds deposited in 3,577 accounts before World War II, by Jews who later died in the Holocaust.

But the settlement apparently did not appease everyone, as proven by the Facebook posts.

Leumi said the bank and its thousands of employees wanted to mark the importance of the day, as do many institutions and companies. "We would like to make clear that Bank Leumi, along with the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims' Assets, reached an agreement a year ago to close the matter," said the bank.

This was the second time in the past six months that Leumi faced a Facebook protest. In December 2011 the bank halted its "Two Million Good Reasons" project. The project had allowed Internet users to vote on which philanthropic groups should receive NIS 2 million in charitable donations from the bank, but public pressure over the inclusion of certain political organizations forced the bank to halt the campaign.

Bank Leumi had a net profit of NIS 1.9 billion in 2011 and its five highest-paid executives had a total salary cost to the bank of NIS 19 million last year.