Sun. Apr 27, 2014 Israel News
- Editor: Linda Lovitch
- Video Editor: Roi Evron
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- Israel commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day
- Israel allocates funds to Holocaust survivors
- Mahmud Abbas: Holocaust is worst crime against humanity
Israel commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day in official ceremonies around the country. The central ceremony was held at the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem. The ceremony was broadcast live and President Shimom Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were in attendance.6 Holocaust survivors lit the annual torches to commemorate the 6 million Jews who perished.
President Shimon Peres addressed the audience recalling the slaughter of the Jews in his home town, Vishnyeva. Jews were collected in the local synagogue and burned alive within while reciting prayers for the holy Yom Kippur holiday. “The murdered live within us.” he stated. He also stated that anti-Semitic acts must not be ignored.
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the crowd about the last time he visited Yad Vashem with the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephan Harper. “We encountered a 90 year old Holocaust survivor who was forced to leave her 2 year old sister to die, to this day; her sad, teary eyes haunt her.” I told the PM of Canada that my utmost responsibility was to ensure that there would be no more monuments or tragedies of this magnitude. “By avoiding a confrontation with the threat of the Nazis, the leaders of the world allowed this atrocity to occur.” He drew a clear parallel to Iran whose aspirations to create nuclear weapons cannot be ignored today by the international community. “For those who attempted to destroy us, you did not succeed. For those who wish to destroy us, you will not succeed.”
The government has approved a program to aid Holocaust survivors in the sum of 1 billion shekels this year. The program, sponsored by the Finance and Welfare Ministries, includes the distribution of free medicines, increased welfare grants, free psychological services and resources for the estimated 190,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel. Yair Lapid, Finance Minster wrote on his Facebook page, “Finally, the survivors will no longer have to wait, since we do not have time to wait. We are prepared to release these funds immediately in accordance with the plan.”
There is however a problem for the Holocaust survivors to access funds already allotted to them. One organization, Aviv, works to help survivors get their rights. They have managed to receive 150 million shekels for the survivors so far. Unfortunately, survivors are worn out from the bureaucracy including the need to produce proper documentation — the Red Cross is not always enough. Aviva Silverman, head of Aviv bemoaned that while German judges have stated that they deserve compensation, Israel makes it nearly impossible to receive money and services. Although the Ministry of Finance states on their site that they are the address for survivors, they are not fully aware of how to access their rights.
On the eve of the Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel, a disturbing report was published regarding the anti-Semitic atmosphere and activities in Europe. The report, from the Kantor Center revealed that there was a significant rise in violent acts against Jews in 2013, reaching 544 incidents. France had the greatest number of incidents — 116. It was noted that many Jews may prefer not to report such acts and therefore, the number is probably even higher.
Palestinian president, Mahmud Abbas stated that the Holocaust is the worst crime perpetrated against humanity and expressed his sympathy for the victims. Prime Minister Netanyahu was quick to criticize his statement: Netanyahu also criticized the efforts by Abbas to reconcile with Hamas.
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