Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the memorial service for the Holocaust and heroism at Yad Vashem.
He talked about the steadfast spirit of the survivors, but in practice his government does nothing for them (Photo: Flash 90, Eric Marmor)
Yesterday evening, during his speech at Yad Vashem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
in praise of the Holocaust survivors and detailed several stories of survivors: "I heard with excitement the heart-pounding stories of the brave survivors," he said.
"After the episodes of darkness at the beginning of their lives, came the episodes of light later on. There is no other country in the world whose sons and daughters would have succeeded in rising from the ashes of destruction, and soared to the heights of revival."
In his speech, the Prime Minister did not mention the difficult situation of more than a third of the survivors, who live in poverty and need donations of food and clothing to survive in a land that was restored thanks to them.
The Prime Minister also did not address in his speech (and in response to Walla's request on the subject), the fact that, unlike the previous governments in the last decade, his current government did not include a single section that improves the situation of these survivors, as part of the current state budget, which was approved by the government and in the first reading in the Knesset.
Let it be said right away, even what was done under the previous governments was not enough to improve the situation of all Holocaust survivors.
But all the previous governments (by the way, most of them under Netanyahu as prime minister), at least made some significant moves.
The current government has only made the situation worse.
Moshe Kahlon and Avigdor Lieberman, two of the finance ministers who actually did for the Holocaust survivors (photo: Reuven Castro)
What did the previous finance ministers do?
Over the years, finance ministers have fought for generations to obtain a budget increase that will improve the quality of life of the survivors.
The current Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, did not present any plan for them, nor an additional shekel.
The budget of the Authority for Holocaust Survivors, which is under the responsibility of the Prime Minister's Office, has not been updated either.
The budget, which stands at five billion shekels, was hit by the increase in inflation, so that in practice the budget suffered a hit of several tens of millions.
In 2015, during
's tenure as Minister of Finance, 50 million shekels were transferred to the Holocaust Survivors Welfare Fund, a resolution was passed to distribute free medicine to survivors, the allowances of survivors who immigrated to Israel after 1953 (that is, after the reparations agreement with Germany, a population that most need financial help among survivors) were increased the Holocaust is among them) and a program for the treatment of survivors was budgeted at three billion shekels.
During Lapid's tenure as Prime Minister, an agreement was signed to finance nursing care for 14,000 eligible survivors, open ghettos were recognized in Romania and Bulgaria and the annual grant for each survivor was increased.
In total, about NIS 2.5 billion was invested in Holocaust survivors.
's time in the Ministry of Finance, the annual grant to veterans was increased to NIS 6,480, and an additional NIS 140 million was allocated to survivors. Special Corona and those who were recognized as leaving the open ghetto, received retroactive compensation of NIS 100,000.
increased the compensation amounts for Holocaust survivors during his tenure, worked to recognize survivors from Iraq and Morocco and increased the budget of the Authority for Holocaust Survivors.
Israel Katz also
He tried to act on their behalf and transfer tens of millions of shekels left in the state coffers to needy Holocaust survivors, but since he was operating under the continuing budget, this could not be done for legal reasons.
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Bezalel Smotrich with the Chief of Staff at the main ceremony at Yad Vashem. The first finance minister in years who did not take care of earmarked funds for Holocaust survivors (Photo: Reuven Castro)
What (didn't) Smotrich do?
Finance Minister Smotrich, as mentioned, did not advance even one move within the budget or the Settlements Law that referred to Holocaust survivors, which was approved by sources in the Treasury.
And if that's not enough, the government's lack of interest in the survivors is also reflected in the absence of representatives of the Treasury and the Prime Minister's Office in the discussions initiated by MK Merav Cohen, who was appointed to head the "Special Committee for the Treatment of Holocaust Survivors"
. Convenient dates to hold a preliminary discussion before the preparation of the state budget, in order to include economic benefits for Holocaust survivors. Finance representatives did not come to the discussions and the Deputy Minister of Finance, Michal Waldiger, who considers herself to be responsible
the ministry's social activities, confirmed her arrival, but was absent from the discussions .
To our question why she did not take part in them, Waldiger replied: "The chairman of the committee asked to do something that has not been done so far, and that is to discuss a budget within the committee, which has not yet been approved by the government and has not yet been placed on the Knesset's table.
Nevertheless, in view of her concern and the fact that the deputy minister herself is a member of a family of Holocaust survivors, she said that she would make the utmost effort to participate between the burdens of the budget discussions.
Unfortunately, an important discussion in the Ministry of Finance regarding the state budget and within it the areas of welfare which are the main work of the Deputy Minister of Finance, prevented her from participating in the aforementioned discussion.
The Deputy Minister of Finance, Michal Waldiger. You won't believe it, but she is proud of an addition that is nothing more than an automatic linkage to the index (Photo: Reuven Castro)
The addition that wasn't there
"As a matter of fact, the budget of the Authority for the Rights of Holocaust Victims will amount to more than five billion shekels in 2024, and the government is continuing the activities of the previous governments regarding the welfare of Holocaust survivors. The Deputy Minister of Finance will continue to sit with the professionals to stand up for the plight of the survivors and to bring their voice and the solution for their needs for their full well-being. In the upcoming budget, there will be an increase of about NIS 113 million in budgets for Holocaust survivors. About NIS 50 million in the annual compensation and about NIS 63 million reflected in the monthly compensation."
Here is the place to point out, that the increase in the survivors' benefits mentioned by Deputy Minister Waldiger, is due to the automatic linking to the index and not to the action of the government.
Despite our repeated requests, the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Finance chose not to respond.
Maybe they also understand that there are scandals that cannot be explained by spin.