Hundreds of protesters in Israel have marched outside Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office to demand more state support for Holocaust survivors.

A government offer of a monthly stipend of $20 (£10) was labelled “insulting” by the survivor groups that organised Sunday’s demonstration in Jerusalem.

Joining the rally were a few dozen elderly survivors, who say they can barely afford medical treatment.

Mr Olmert has said payments for the 250,000 survivors would begin in 2008.

He pointed out that his government was the first to take up the issue of providing for Holocaust survivors’ families with special aid.

Israel reconciled with Germany a long time ago, it is time that it reconciles with us
Yosef Charnyi
Holocaust survivor

The protesters called their rally a “March of the Living” – a name which echoes the annual commemoration at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.

One of the protesters, a survivor of the Treblinka death camp, sparked controversy by wearing prisoner clothes.

Yosef Charnyi, 82, joined the march from parliament to Mr Olmert’s office dressed in striped pyjamas with a yellow Star of David pinned to the top.

He told the AFP news agency: “We are demanding the right to finish our days decently.”

“The state of Israel has reconciled with Germany a long time ago, it is time that it reconciles with us,” he added.


But there was disquiet at the use of death camp prisoners’ clothes in the protest.

Noah Kieger, a Holocaust survivor herself, wrote on the Ynet news website: “Even if the conduct of the authorities is inappropriate, they must not in any way be mentioned in the same breath as those who murdered six million of our people.”

Mr Olmert told his weekly cabinet meeting that he would meet representatives of survivor groups on Wednesday to discuss the payments.

Dubi Arbel, director of one of the survivor organisations, told the BBC the survivors’ needs were not being met.

“They wake up every night with nightmares,” he said.

“They have cancer 14 times more than the regular population. They break their bones due to the malnutrition they had years ago. And now when they need the help, there is nobody to turn to.”