For a handful of shattered people, little will do

By Eliahu Salpeter

The State of Israel was built on four foundations: the dream of the Zionist visionaries, the sweat of the pioneers, the courage of the fighters in the War of Independence and the pangs of guilt over the Holocaust felt by the world, which voted in favor of its establishment in the United Nations in 1947. However there was also another foundation that the victims provided: reparations Germany paid for murdering six million European Jews. The sum of $750 million in the 1950s would today be the equivalent of several billion dollars; this sum financed a very sizable portion of the young state’s economic infrastructure investments.

Among those who contributed to its establishment, Israel behaved most shamefully toward Holocaust survivors, the same handful of shattered people who chose to try to rebuild their lives in the Jewish state. It is perhaps possible to justify the fact that young people who had just stepped off the boat were sent directly to the front lines; it is possible, perhaps somewhat less justifiably, to argue that the Yishuv (pre-state leadership) was unable in the first few years to provide immigrants with more than a blanket, mattress, Jewish Agency standard issue bed and five liras.