September 26, 2009

Surviving the holocaust industry?

I got an email from a holocaust survivor asking me if I could run a post on something she had noticed in Ha'aretz. It was an article that appeared in May of this year that shows that in spite of the work of Norman Finkelstein exposing the hucksters of what he calls the holocaust industry, the self-styled Claims Conference is still behaving in the same shameless fashion that Finkelstein exposed in his work.

I'm not sure where the case is at right now but a journalist, Guy Meroz, accused the Claims Conference of delaying payments to specific holocaust survivors so that they would die and the money could then remain with the Claims Conference who could then presumably dispose of the funds as they saw fit. The distributor of funds in Israel from the Claims Conference is called the Centre of Organisations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel. The Claims Conference has linked payment of funds to the Centre of Organisations to whether or not the latter criticises the former. Here's Ha'aretz:
The Claims Conference represents world Jewry in negotiating compensation for victims of Nazi persecution and their heirs. It also administers compensation money and funds institutions providing social welfare to Holocaust survivors, including the Centre of Organizations. Israel is home to some 250,000 Holocaust survivors, many of them poor.

The final clause in the proposed contract stated that, should the umbrella group take the money and then criticize the Claims Conference, it would be required to repay the debt immediately, and the Claims Conference would halt future funding.

The Claims Conference gives $50 million annually to the Centre's Welfare Fund, an independent body. A spokesperson for the Claims Conference said the final clause does not pertain to this annual funding.

Representatives from the 51 groups that make up the Centre of Organizations met to discuss the proposal on Wednesday. "We were outraged," one representative told Haaretz. Another said: "It's obviously an attempt by the Claims Conference to prepare for their libel suit against journalist Guy Meroz."

Last year the Claims Conference sued Meroz over his documentary "Musar Hashilumim" ("The Morality of Payments"), which aired in May 2008, and accused the organization's leaders of withholding funds from survivors until after they had passed away. The case has not yet reached the court.
A little googling turned up a trailer for Guy Meroz's documentary:

And the next clip I noticed on Youtube was this one:

The second clip is from 2006, the first from 2008. Between 2006 and now Ehud Olmert, the then Prime Minister of Israel allowed holocaust survivor pensioners $20 a month more than they had been getting. So where is all this restitution money going?


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