Sat, Aug 04, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Aid for Holocaust victims to change because of ridicule

AP , JERUSALEM

The Israeli government will revise a widely criticized plan to grant needy Holocaust survivors a monthly stipend of US$20, officials said yesterday, after survivors called the plan laughable.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced the plan this week in response to concern about poverty among the some 240,000 Israelis who survived the Nazi genocide, saying he was "correcting a 60-year-old blight."

But the meager sum -- 83 shekels a month -- drew scorn from survivors, and after a meeting on Thursday night between Olmert's staff and survivor representatives, the sides released a joint statement saying the government would look into new solutions.

The government and the survivors "decided to set a short timetable during which the pressing matters on the agenda will be worked out," leading up to a meeting between Olmert and the survivors next week, the statement said.

Noah Flug, chair of a consortium of survivors' groups, said the US$20 allowance was now "off the agenda."

Speaking on Army Radio, Flug said he was confident that Olmert's representatives "want to solve the problem."

Six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during World War II and hundreds of thousands who survived concentration camps came to Israel after the war. Many suffered physical or psychological damage from the torture and deprivation they suffered at the hands of the Nazis.

Six decades after the war ended, the remaining survivors are elderly and many are poor. Many have been unable to provide for their last years, finding themselves chronically short of funds for medical and psychological treatment and food.

Olmert's original plan was widely ridiculed.

"This doesn't solve anything," survivor Avraham Roet, 79, said. "The government doesn't understand the significance of the Holocaust and what horrors the survivors went through. If they did, they wouldn't propose this absurd and insulting plan."

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