1 out of every 5 survivors was forced to choose between food and medication during the past two years, survey finds.
Yad vashem ceremony Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post
Of the 193,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today, some 50,000 live in poverty, according to a report released Wednesday by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.
The report consisted of several elements, including updated statistics gathered by the Foundation as well as two surveys– one among 400 Holocaust survivors and the second among 500 people from the general public.
Of the Holocaust survivors surveyed, 45% indicated they feel “alone” and one out of every five survivors was forced to choose between food and other necessities during the past two years due to financial problems.
Chaya Kujikaro, a 76-year-old Holocaust survivor from Romania could not hold back tears as she described her living situation at the press conference announcing the report. Kujikaro and her husband made aliya after 1953, and as such she is not entitled to the same rights as Holocaust survivors by the State of Israel.
“I want to ask the government, why if you made aliya after 1953 are you not considered a Holocaust survivor?” she asked.
Kujikaro lives off of a National Insurance Institute pension with her 90-year-old husband who suffers from heart problems and is confined to a wheel chair. They are forced to spend thousands of shekels every month on medications and medical treatments and their apartment is too small for the wheel chair to fit into the bathroom and shower.
“It is very difficult for us and we don't see any exit from this [situation], sometimes we just want to end our lives, but this is not how we want to [die],” she said.
Kujikaro is not alone, according to the survey 60% of Holocaust survivors are worried about their financial situation; with 55% of survivors responding that they are unhappy with the way the government treats them. Furthermore, 61% said they did not feel any difference in the past year with regard to government assistance and treatment.
“If the state was a bit more considerate, could help us a little bit, how much longer will we live?” she asked.
The findings also indicated that 43% of Holocaust survivors fear that the Holocaust will happen again and one out of three survivors worries that the younger generations will not remember the Holocaust.
The survey was conducted by telephone in the second half of March among 400 Holocaust survivors living in Israel and reflects a +/- 4.9% margin of error.
In comparison, the public survey findings indicated that a majority of the general population, 84%, believe the treatment of Holocaust survivors was “not good.”
Of the respondents, 52% believe that a majority of Holocaust survivors live in poverty and only 10% said they believe the situation of Holocaust survivors was “good or adequate.”
In addition, 56% of the general public said they did not believe there was any change made by the government this past year with regards to treating and assisting Holocaust survivors.
The findings also revealed that only 39% of people surveyed said they know a Holocaust survivor. Despite this, 73% of the respondents believe that the public will remember the Holocaust even after the death of the survivors.
The public survey was conducted March 23 and 24 by telephone and questioned some 500 Jewish adults aged 18 and up; the survey reflects a +/- 4.5% margin of error.
According to the report, the average age of the Holocaust survivor in Israel today is 85-years-old and some two thirds are women. Each year an estimated 13,000 survivors pass away.
According to the report, during the past year some 70,000 Holocaust survivors requested assistance from the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.
Of the survivors seeking assistance from the foundation, 65% are above the age of 80, and 45% are above the age of 86. Furthermore, 86% live on a monthly income of less that NIS 5,000 and 66% live on a monthly income of up to NIS 3,000.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas talks during a leadership meeting in Ramallah, Tuesday, April 1, 2014 (photo credit: AP/Majdi Mohammed)
At least three Palestinian threats have become a recurrent ritual, repeating themselves every few months: (1) the resignation of Mahmoud Abbas from the presidency of the Palestinian Authority; (2) the resignation of top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat from his post (a step he has already taken countless times throughout his illustrious career, and yet there he remains); and (3) the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority.
So first it should be made clear: A scenario in which the Palestinian Authority is dissolved is possible, but its probability is low, very low. The discussion in recent days over the possibility of the PA being dismantled has been held mainly in the Israeli media, with little to no presence in the discourse of the Palestinian media and among PA leaders.
A story did appear Sunday night in the Palestinian Ma’an news agency, which of course referenced the original Yedioth Ahronoth article on the issue at the start of this week. The Ma’an report quoted anonymous Palestinian officials who vehemently asserted that the dissolution idea was being “seriously” considered by the Palestinian leadership in the event that negotiations are not extended. The same officials claimed that “these are not empty threats or hollow talk.” But it is just insistent statements that make it clear that these are in fact only fanciful statements, at least at this stage.
It is hard to say where the latest threats originated. Israeli officials who seek to alarm the Israeli public over the possibility of negotiations failing could have been behind them, or it could have been Abbas’s emissaries.
PA Religious Affairs Minister Mahmoud al-Habash, a confidant of Abbas, hinted several days ago during a conversation with Israeli journalists in Ramallah that the option of disbanding the PA was under consideration and could even take place by the end of 2014.
And yet, this is not a realistic option. Yes, it is a step that practically begs to be taken by Abbas in the face of stalled negotiations and in light of the economic woes faced by the Palestinian government. And yes, this threat will be used repeatedly in the coming days as we approach the end of the nine-month negotiations timeframe (April 29 is only a week away). It is almost a “doomsday weapon” against Israel, a clear threat that creates deterrence in Israeli public opinion.
But there are many more steps that would be considered by the Palestinians before they entertain such an extreme option. The Ma’an news agency itself noted in its report that there are many in the PA who oppose such a plan of action. And there are quite a few reasons for this.
Abbas, during all the years of the Second Intifada and afterwards, made it clear that he is opposed to violent action. Abbas understands that dismantling the PA would lead to chaos that would cause countless acts of violence, not only against Israel but also within Palestinian society itself. For Abbas, dissolving the Palestinian Authority’s mechanisms is not an option, because Hamas is a far more severe threat than Israel. The absence of a functioning PA security apparatus would increase Hamas’s power and severely imperil the life of every PA and Fatah official, without exception.
In addition, it is impossible to ignore the economic considerations. PA officials benefit financially from the existence of the PA and, in addition to their salary, enjoy many economic bonuses that come with their jobs — via connections with Israel, involvement in economic projects, and so on. Another equally important consideration that totally prevents deliberations on the real possibility of dismantling the Authority is the impact this would have on the future of the 150,000 PA workers and Fatah members, in the West Bank and in Gaza, who receive salaries each month and drive the Palestinian economy.
Getting rid of the PA would condemn close to a million people not only to unemployment, but also to poverty and potentially hunger. Abbas doesn’t wish to bring chaos to the territories, and it is clear to him that an act such as dismantling the PA would put Palestinian cities back a decade — something no one on the Palestinian side wants.
Monday, April 21, 2014
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly threatened to dissolve the PA and disband Palestinian security forces operating in the West Bank if peace negotiations with Israel fail, a move which would create huge security and diplomatic problems for Israel.
According to Palestinian sources cited by Yedioth Ahronoth on Sunday, Abbas and top PA officials are considering the drastic move, which would involve canceling the 1993 Oslo Accords and announcing that the Palestinian Authority is a “government under occupation” without full sovereignty, which would technically move full responsibility for the Palestinians, in the West Bank at least, to Israel.
The threat, which has reportedly been passed on to Israel, would also disband and abolish PA security forces operating in the West Bank, theoretically opening the way for expanded Palestinian unrest against Israeli forces. The move could also prompt a surge in international legal and diplomatic action against Israel.
Yedioth said a vote on the move is scheduled for a PLO meeting on Saturday, three days before the peace talks are currently scheduled to end.
The prospect of the PA’s dissolution was greeted with derision on Sunday by Economics Minister and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, who has been a vocal critic of the negotiations. As PA head, Abbas is “encouraging terrorism against Israel” with his threat, Bennett told Maariv.
“If he wants to go, we won’t stop him. Israel won’t conduct negotiations with a gun to our head,” he said.
The current round of US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are scheduled to end on April 29 after a nine-month negotiating period, and the two sides have been unable to come to an agreement to extend the talks. State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said last week that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are striving to reach an agreement to extend their peace talks beyond the deadline.
However, officials in Jerusalem said Friday that no progress had been made in emergency talks that took place between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators the night before, and that the two sides would meet again this week after the Passover holiday.
Washington is pushing for an extension, but the negotiations hit an impasse two weeks ago when Israel refused to release a group of Palestinian prisoners as agreed at last year’s launch of the talks.
Under the agreement, Israel had committed to a four-phase release of 104 prisoners held since before the 1993 Oslo autonomy accords, but it cancelled the release of the last group of 26 at the end of March. Among them are 14 Israeli Arabs who the Jewish state is refusing to free. It also wanted a prior commitment from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to extend the peace negotiations, which Abbas refused to make.
According to Israel Radio, the Palestinians are adamant in their demand that all 26 prisoners be released, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to concede on the issue of releasing the Israeli Arab terrorists. The head of the Shin Bet security service advised Netanyahu to release the 14 Israeli Arab prisoners in question and deport them to the Gaza Strip or abroad, the report said, but Netanyahu said he would not act in a way that may endanger Israeli citizens. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a group of Israeli MKs last week that he opposed any such deportation.
The Palestinians retaliated for the delay in the prisoner releases by seeking accession to several international treaties, a move Israel described as a “major breach” of understandings.
Abbas told the Israeli opposition MPs visiting him in the West Bank city of Ramallah last Wednesday that if talks were extended, he would want the first three months “devoted to a serious discussion of borders,” Haaretz reported.
The Palestinians want a state based on the lines that existed before Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
BY: Jeremy Sharon on jpost.com
Tens of thousands of men and women visited the Western Wall on Thursday morning for the mass Priestly Blessing (Birkat Kohanim) ceremony, which takes place each year during the intermediate days of both Passover and Succot.
Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef was in attendance. The prayer area for women at the Western Wall has been expanded to include a roofed section, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation announced on Wednesday.
Two new spaces have been created inside the women’s section providing for a covered prayer space for the first time. Halls at the northern end of the current Western Wall plaza have been available for men for many years. The current roofed spaces for women are temporary arrangements but will be made into permanent structures in the future, the foundation said.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
By Associated Press, Published: April 14
UNITED NATIONS — Israel’s U.N. ambassador on Monday denounced a U.N. agency head for tacitly comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany and has demanded her suspension.
Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor castigated Rima Khalaf, the head of the Arab-oriented Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, and called on the Secretary-General to suspend her.
In a speech in late February, Khalaf referred to “Israel’s adamancy that it is a Jewish State, which violates the rights of both the Muslim and Christian indigenous populations and revives the concept of state ethnic and religious purity, which caused egregious human suffering during the 20th century.”
U.N. diplomats generally refer to massive “human suffering during the 20th century” as a way of referring to the Holocaust without having to name Hitler in every speech, or gratuitously slur Germany, a major U.N. member state, every time the issue comes up.
Khalaf, who is Jordanian, ‘did not name Nazi Germany or make a specific comparison. The Holocaust would be one obvious inference from her speech, though there were many ethnic and religious purges, massacres and wars in the 20th century.
She clearly had issues with Israel, as she also said in her Feb. 25 speech in Tunis, “Foreign interference comes in various forms, such as violations of Arab rights and dignity, but its worst manifestation is the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the Syrian Golan Heights and Lebanese territories, in flagrant breach of international conventions and resolutions.”
Khalaf was introducing a report on development in Western Asia, and said: “The authors of the report claim that the damage caused by Israeli policies is not limited to occupation activities, but they believe that aggressive Israeli policies, including its support for discord aimed at establishing Arab sectarian mini-States and its nuclear program that is not subject to international monitoring, pose a continuous threat to the security of Arab citizens in the region as a whole.”
Prosor called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to suspend her and said, “It is unacceptable that inflammatory anti-Israel messages continue to be produced under the banner of the United Nations and using U.N. resources. By demonizing Israel, Ms. Khalaf is advancing a personal agenda rather than furthering the cause of peace or advancing regional Arab development. Senior U.N. officials should lead by example and demonstrate tolerance rather than prejudice.”
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Frazier Glenn Cross, a 73-year-old man from southwest Missouri with a long history of anti-Semitism, was arrested Sunday afternoon for allegedly opening fire and killing three people – two of them Christian – at and near a Jewish community center in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.
As police were taking handcuffed Cross, a resident of Aurora, Mo., and known as F. Glenn Miller, in the back of a car, he yelled out, "Heil Hitler," according to The Kansas City Star.
Matt Davis, who saw Miller's arrest and whose daughter was inside the center when the shooting took place, said that the man was smiling. "I was wondering, 'Why is the guy smiling when he's being arrested.'"
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Miller is an Army veteran and retired truck driver who founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He has been involved in the "white supremacist" movement for most of his life. He was the group's "grand dragon" until he was sued for operating an illegal paramilitary organization and using intimidation tactics against blacks. Miller then founded a similar group called the White Patriot Party.
In 1987, federal agents found Miller and three other men in an Ozark mobile home filled with hand grenades, automatic weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Miller tried running for U.S. House in 2006 and the U.S. Senate in 2010.
The gunman, who was carrying a shotgun, a handgun and possibly an assault weapon, fired at five people Sunday afternoon but missed two of his targets, according to police.
The shootings, on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover, began around 1 p.m. Two males were shot in a parking lot outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, one dying at the scene and the other at a hospital later, according to Reuters. The shooter then drove a mile away to the Village Shalom retirement community and killed a woman.
The shooting came at a time when hundreds of high school singers were expected to audition for a contest.
One of the victims has been identified as William Lewis Corporon, a Johnson County doctor. His 14-year-old grandson, identified as Reat Griffin Underwood, an Eagle Scout, died later at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.
The third victim has yet to be identified.
Corporon and his grandson attended United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, a suburb of Kansas City, Mo.
The church's senior pastor, the Rev. Adam Hamilton, told the congregation about the incident during Sunday evening service. "Help us, o Lord, to grieve as people of hope," Hamilton was quoted as praying.
The Jewish Community Center has said it will remain closed Monday. "Our hearts go out to the families who have suffered loss on this tragic day," the center said in a statement. "Our heartfelt gratitude as well to all those in Kansas City and around the world who have expressed sympathy, concern and support."
Friday, April 11, 2014
JERUSALEM – Israel's Defense Ministry says it has launched a new observation satellite into orbit.
Israel announced the launch of the "Ofek 10" late Wednesday. The launch was carried out with state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries.
The Ofek 10 is the latest in a line of spy satellites built by Israel Aircraft Industries for the government. Israel is expected to use the satellite to keep tabs on Iran and hostile militant groups in the region.
Israel believes Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon — a charge Iran denies — and accuses it of arming militants across the region.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
By REUTERS 10/04/2014
Iran has made a proposal that would significantly lower plutonium production at a planned reactor, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying, signalling flexibility on a key issue in talks to end the nuclear dispute with world powers.
The comment by Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's atomic energy organization, was the latest sign that a compromise may be possible over the Arak research reactor, which the West fears could yield weapons-usable material. Iran denies any such aim.
The fate of the heavy-water plant, which has not yet been completed, is one of the central issues in negotiations between Iran and six major powers aimed at reaching a long-term deal on Tehran's nuclear program by an agreed July 20 deadline.
Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China on Wednesday ended their last round of negotiation in Vienna and said they would start drafting an agreement at their next meeting there on May 13. But officials said significant gaps needed to be bridged.
The website of Iran's English-language state television Press TV, citing Salehi late on Wednesday, said Iran had offered a "scientific and logical proposal to clear up any ambiguities" over the Arak reactor.
"In our plan, we explained that we would redesign the heart of the Arak reactor, so that its production of plutonium will decrease drastically," Salehi was quoted as saying.
RUSSIA SEES ARAK COMPROMISE
The West is worried that Arak, once operational, could provide a supply of plutonium - one of two materials, along with highly enriched uranium, that can trigger a nuclear blast.
The Islamic Republic has said that the 40-megawatt reactor is intended to produce isotopes for cancer and other medical treatments. It agreed to halt installation work at Arak under a six-month interim accord struck on Nov. 24 which was designed to buy time for negotiations on a comprehensive deal.
Russia's chief negotiator suggested after the April 8-9 talks that progress had been achieved on Arak. "The possibility of a compromise on this issue has grown," Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.
Heavy-water reactors like Arak, fueled by natural uranium, are seen as especially suitable for yielding plutonium. To do so, however, a spent fuel preprocessing plant would also be needed to extract it. Iran is not known to have any such plant.
If operating optimally, Arak - located about 250 km (150 miles) southwest of Tehran - could produce about nine kg of plutonium annually, the US Institute for Science and International Security says.
Any deal must lower that amount, Western experts say.
Last week, Princeton University experts said that annual plutonium production could be cut to less than a kilogram - well below the roughly 8 kg needed for an atomic bomb - if Iran altered the way Arak is fueled and lowered its power capacity.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
By JPOST.COM STAFF
According to The Daily Beast, high-ranking members of both parties have strong objections to freeing Pollard.
Netanyahu and Obama shake hands at start of Oval Office meeting, March 3, 2013 Photo: REUTERS
If the Obama administration thought about freeing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in an effort to entice Israel to show more flexibility in the negotiations with the Palestinians, it will have to take into consideration the fierce objections of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
According to The Daily Beast news site, high-ranking members of both parties have strong objections to freeing Pollard in a proposed deal that would include Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners and a continuation of peace talks through the end of this year.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D – California) told The Daily Beast that releasing Pollard at this stage – without any sign of a final-status deal between Israel and the Palestinians on the horizon – was a mistake.
“This was a major betrayal and I’ve followed it over the years. It’s one thing if there’s an agreement. It’s another thing totally if there isn’t,” she told The Daily Beast. Feinstein would not say what legislative measures – if any – she would pursue in order to prevent the administration from following through on the proposed deal.
Another influential lawmaker, Republican Saxby Chambliss, is quoted in the report as saying that he opposed Pollard’s release altogether.
“I think he’s done a lot of harm to America and I just don’t think he should be released,” the Georgia Republican said.
Both Republican and Democratic figures as well as retired statesmen have urged the Obama administration to pardon Pollard on humanitarian grounds.
Sen. John McCain said on Tuesday that he supports releasing Pollard on the merits of the case, though he did not agree with using Pollard as an enticement to move the peace process forward.
"It's disgusting," McCain said. "I favor his release, I think he's served long enough, but to be used in this fashion, it's disgraceful."
Monday, March 31, 2014
By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
US Secretary of state breaks from his travel schedule in Rome amid crisis over delayed prisoner release and Abbas's refusal to extend talks.
PM Binyamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry, December 6, 2013. Photo: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv
PARIS - US Secretary of State John Kerry broke from his travel schedule for the second time in a week to rush back to Israel on Monday to try to salvage Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The US-brokered negotiations faced a crisis over the weekend when Israel, saying it was seeking a Palestinian commitment to continue negotiations beyond an end-of-April deadline, delayed the fourth prisoner release to which it had committed to in previous negotiations.
"After consulting with his team, Secretary Kerry decided it would be productive to return to the region," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
Kerry had interrupted a visit to Rome last week to go to Amman for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to try to convince him to prolong the talks beyond an April 29 deadline for a deal and to press Israel to release the prisoners.
Speaking at a meeting of Likud ministers on Sunday, Netanyahu said that Israel would not make a deal to free the prisoners "without a clear benefit for Israel in return." He acknowledged that negotiations to come to an agreement could potentially "blow up."
In order to move back to the negotiations table, Israel agreed in July to release 104 terrorists convicted of crimes before the the 1993 Oslo accords in four tranches of 26 prisoners each. In return the Palestinians agreed not to pursue unilateral diplomatic actions in international forums, including taking Israel to the International Criminal Court. Israel has so far released 78 prisoners.
A deal has allegedly been reached for Israel to release a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners by Tuesday evening after Israel missed a Saturday night deadline to free theinmates, sources in Ramallah told Palestinian news site al-Quds on Sunday, though the report also stated that the Palestinians were not expected to make additional compromises, such as agreeing to an extension of talks, in exchange for the release.
By returning to the region, Kerry may be indicating that he believes there is a chance to save the talks, possibly with commitment from both sides to extend the negotiations, or to issue a message that US patience is not without limits.
Kerry was scheduled to attend a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was not immediately clear whether he would still be able to make the first day.
Direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed last July after a three-year break. In the absence of any obvious breakthroughs, Kerry said he wanted a clear framework to enable discussions to continue in the coming months.
Officials have said the two sides remain far apart even on the draft framework. However, the State Department's Psaki said on Monday the Israelis and Palestinians "have both made tough choices" over the past eight months.
"As we work with them to determine the next steps, it is important they remember that only peace will bring the Israeli and Palestinian people both the security and economic prosperity they all deserve," she said.
American officials said that Kerry was expected to travel to both Israel and Ramallah in the coming hours.