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Survivors to See Their Bills Subsidized

In time for the recent Yom HaShoah, the national remembrance day, a series of measures being approved by the cabinet will reduce the cost of monthly electricity bills for survivors of the Holocaust living in Israel.

National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reached an agreement in which survivors living below the poverty line will see a subsidization of electricity bills, up to 50%.
Netanyahu already gave a preliminary approval for the action which should be implemented within the next 45 days with the assistance of Isaac Herzog of the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, and the agreement of the Finance Ministry.

Netanyahu said:

“We are talking about an important humanitarian step…The government has a responsibility to assist Holocaust survivors and make all efforts to prevent to take care of them properly. Their advanced ages means that we need to act on this as quickly as possible.”

In addition to this, last week the Welfare Ministry announced subsidies of up to 90% on essential health and medical supplies for Holocaust survivors – that includes reduced costs for dental treatments, cheaper eye glasses, hearing aid implements and personal psychological counseling.

Altogether there are roughly 80,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel, and an estimated 7,000 of them live below the poverty line.

Eleventh Hour Plea for Aged Holocaust Survivors

Israel has one of the largest populations of Jewish Holocaust survivors in the world. This reality is largely due to the Jewish State being the only place of refuge for the remnants of Europe’s Jewish community, most of who were wiped out during the years 1938 to 1945 by the Nazis and their allies.

Most of these people who are classified as Holocaust survivors, including those who were partisan fighters, now live in Israel and many of them are living far below the poverty line and are in poor health. A great deal of media attention has been given to the survivors recently, particularly regarding their attempts to receive increased pensions and more health care benefits from the Israeli government; which until now appears to be far from granting what this segment of the population has asked for. There are more than 120,000 Holocaust survivors over age 70 living in Israel. A great many of these are well into their 80’s. The largest number of survivors living outside of Israel, reside in the USA.

Holocaust Survivor March IsraelAlthough the Israeli government has promised to give Israeli Holocaust survivors a special stipend amounting to around N.S. 300 per month for individuals and N.S. 520 per month for couples, most survivors consider this amount as “too little – too late” for many of them, as indicated in the above photo. This is especially so if it is to be spread out over a 3 year period beginning in 2008. For many of these people, especially those over age 85, they will probably not be around to receive the full amount, scheduled for 2011.

Many of these survivors feel that they are actually reliving the Holocaust considering how they have been treated on this matter. A spokesman from the Ministry of Finance said, however, that “if we give the survivors the full amount they are asking for (between N.S. 3,000 and 5,000 immediate grant per person or couple, plus the monthly allotment) we will be forced to cut back on child allowances given to large families”.

Israel, like most other Western oriented countries, has a high population of older people. Though all are not Holocaust survivors, a great many of them are in the same situation as the ones who survived the Holocaust. There are also many families with small children living below the poverty line, and according to Finance Ministry spokesmen, there just isn’t enough money to go around.

Not enough money; or just not allocated properly? Who deserves more of the government “Pie”, the Holocaust survivors or others in similar financial straits?

More than 30% of Israel’s 7+ million population are living below the poverty line. Many elderly people are included in this percentile, and many were not involved directly in the Holocaust. It appears that the only fair solution is to take each case on its own merits; and perhaps the time has come to give more assistance to the country’s elderly, especially those in need of long term and other special care.

The Holocaust survivors are definitely a special case, though; and judging from their reactions to meetings their representatives had with governmental authorities, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the issue is far from over.

Hat Tip for Image: Ynet..

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