The annoying bureaucracy that piles up difficulties for a handful of Holocaust survivors who are eligible for an allowance, according to a 2007 law, has recently sunk to a level of callousness that borders on maliciousness. From a report by Orly Vilnai in yesterday’s Haaretz, it appears the state is forcing the survivors who are entitled to these benefits to sign a form that gives the treasury irrevocable rights to have access to their bank accounts and even to withdraw funds. If they do not sign, they will not receive the benefits.

This is a shameful exploitation of a small population that for 60 years made do with little, asked nothing for itself, and eventually lapsed into poverty.

It seems the current government is trying to compete with that of Ehud Olmert, which was less than enthusiastic about the new law, and then tried to ignore the dire straits of the survivors and sidestep the law. Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is also proving that it does not know how – or worse still, has no interest – to distinguish between the wheat and the chaff, between the rich and the poor, and between those whom the state is obliged to supervise and those whom the state is obliged to protect.