Comptroller to probe how gov’t treats Holocaust survivors
By Amiram Barkat, Haaretz Correspondent

Ze’ev Factor, chairman of the Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Survivors. suggested that the government organize tours of the concentration camps for bureaucrats who deal with survivors, arguing that this might make them more sensitive to the survivors’ plight.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss plans to conduct the first comprehensive investigation into the government’s treatment of Holocaust survivors.

He announced the plans at Monday’s meeting of the Knesset State Control Committee, which was discussing the government’s failures in this area. The comptroller invited survivors to meet with him, and announced that his office would investigate every ministry involved in the issue.

At Monday’s committee session, officials from the Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Survivors said the fund had been forced to halt assistance to needy survivors because the Finance Ministry has transferred only NIS 5.8 million of the NIS 14 million that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had promised. “It is inconceivable that in the State of Israel there should be survivors who suffer the shame of hunger,” Lindenstrauss responded. The committee urged Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson to transfer the missing funds immediately.

Survivors who attended the meeting complained of lengthy delays in processing their assistance requests from the government. Chairman of an umbrella association for Holocaust survivors, Noah Flug, said it was inconceivable that survivors should be forced to undergo medical checks in order to prove that they are entitled to compensation. Even the Germans do not require this, he said.

MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said he plans to submit a bill eliminating this requirement. That bill would also forbid the deduction of fees from allowances received by survivors.

Flug also said some survivors organizations, including one for “Mengele Twins,” were on the verge of shutting down due to debts.

During the meeting, an argument erupted between committee chairman Yuri Stern (Yisrael Beiteinu) and the treasury’s representative, Haran Levaot, over a proposal by Ze’ev Factor, chairman of the Foundation for the Welfare of Holocaust Survivors. Factor suggested that the government organize tours of the concentration camps for bureaucrats who deal with survivors, arguing that this might make them more sensitive to the survivors’ plight. “There is no need to fund trips abroad for treasury clerks in order to turn them into human beings,” Stern retorted. Levaot was so offended that he considered leaving the room, but eventually made do with saying: “That remark exceeds the bounds of good taste.”