Israel, local survivors seek control of Holocaust Claims Conference

By Amiram Barkat

Israel is trying to gain control over one of the world’s richest Jewish organizations, in the name of promoting the welfare of Holocaust survivors.

A group of Israeli organizations headed by Minister Rafi Eitan (Pensioners), who holds the Diaspora affairs portfolio, announced this week that Israel wants the right to appoint half the members of the executive of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a U.S.-based organization that represents world Jewry and Holocaust survivors in their negotiations over reparations from Germany.

Eitan estimates the Claims Conference’s financial reserves at some $1.7 billion. Every year, the conference gives grants totaling about $90 million to organizations worldwide that help Holocaust survivors or are involved in Holocaust education and memorialization. About half of this money goes to Israeli organizations.