Late last week a civil discussion on I/P broke out.
My goofy self is tempted to say, That's the news; end of story! But that's not the thought that motivated this diary and that I want to explore further.
Some sound proposals were presented for settling claims of both sides. Several individuals commented on their personal situations in which family members had lost property and/but moved on with their lives in other places. Part of the discussion involved assessment of why Palestinians had not "moved on with their lives;" whether neighboring Arab states should be blamed for failing to take in Palestinian refugees; that Jews who left German or Arab or Iranian lands-- ie. the individuals whose family members lost property/moved on -- should be compensated for their losses.
The comment, below the fold, culminated the exchange and is the springboard for this diary:
Yes! Or compensation paid for by the perpetrating country/current owners. Same with Jews displaced from Arab countries, or Iran.
by Terra Mystica on Fri Aug 27, 2010 at 12:30:41 PM PDT
Recommended by: capelza, corvo, MBNYC, callmecassandra, Fire bad tree pretty
Terra Mystica had earlier responded to one individual's statement that his/her family had been forced to sell property in Germany at a loss, had done so, left Germany, moved to New Jersey and "moved on;" TM's reaction was:
"Being made whole" is such a universal moral and legal principlethat I have to ask why you don't/didn't subscribe to it in your own personal experience.
Not that there's anything wrong (or right) with moving on, it's just that you seem to be the exception rather than the rule. With respect, it seems like your decision to do so is a personal one, not easily extrapolated to be the basis for collective judgments.
Here's the point I'd like to add, that should have been attached to the relevant thread but it went out of date: Compensation HAS been paid, by "perpetrating" countries, to tens of thousands of Jewish people. Does it make up for lives lost? Surely, no, never. But has the effort to express contrition and to "make whole" been made?
According to Josh Tapper, writing in The Tablet Magazine,
The moral imperative to, essentially, force countries like Germany, Austria, Poland, and Hungary into a lifetime of apology led to the creation of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany in 1952. Since then, Germany has provided nearly $60 billion to pay individual compensation as well as group social service programs.
Tapper included that fact in an article spotlighting the impoverished status of nearly 35,000 Jewish Holocaust survivors in New York City alone. Tapper's narrative revolved around the austere life of Helen Berkovitz, one of 38,053 impoverished Holocaust survivors living in New York City. Her plight -- their plight -- is repeated in numerous American cities and towns, but is even worse in Israel, according to a recent article in the Seattle Times:
Holocaust Survivors' Poverty is Israel's Dirty Little Secret
According to the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, about 144,000 Holocaust survivors reside in the US.
The question begs to be asked: What became of $60 billion dollars?
Approach the question with some back-of-the-envelope calculations:
ASSUME that $60 billion was paid to the CJMCAG* in four equal installments, starting in 1953;
ASSUME that 1/58th of the fund was paid out annually to each of 144,000 survivors;
ASSUME that the remaining balance of the fund was invested and earning 4% interest per year.
My envelope suggest that in 1953 each survivor received about $1765. In 1953, the national average wage in the US was $3139.44; the CJMCAG should have been able to provide to each Holocaust survivor 56% of the average national wage, and still have $14.7 billion left to start 1954.
Skip forward to 1967, when a second installment of $15 billion would have been paid by the German state into the Jewish fund, to bring the fund total to just over $35 billion, and the average annual payout to each of 144,000 survivors would be $3,057, at a time when the average national wage was $5213.44; that is, the State of Germany paid reparations amounting to 59% of the average American wage, to each Holocaust survivor living in the US.
The third installment of what Josh Tapper characterized as "what the descendants of Holocaust perpetrators owe to survivors" would have been paid in about 1982, bringing the fund total to about $57 billion, and the average annual payout to each Holocaust survivor to just over $9600, 2/3 of the average national wage in the US at the time.
The fourth and final installment on the $60 billion reparations payments from Germany to US Holocaust survivors would bring the fund total to approx. $64.3 billion in 1997, to cover annual payouts of $23,519 to each Holocaust survivor, at a time when the average wage in the US was $27,426; that is, reparations paid by the German state to Jewish Holocaust survivors should have provided 86% of American national wage to each Holocaust survivor.
If the above protocol were followed until today, the fund managed by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany should be paying over $51,000 to each Holocaust survivor (close to or perhaps exceeding average national wage) and still have $ 7,648,847,230.86 in its treasury.
If all this is so, why was Helen Berkovitz compelled to apply for
Section 8, a subsidized housing program for low-income New Yorkers, only to be denied on the grounds her income from Social Security was too high. Seven months ago, her monthly food-stamp allotment of $57 was reduced to less than $15. After a $96.50 Medicare deduction, Berkovitz receives just over $1,300 each month, a sum that barely covers her needs, which include 24 pills a day. Berkovitz doesn’t fall below the 2010 federal poverty line, but she lives a meager existence, absolutely dependent on the financial support of government programs and Jewish service organizations.
The individual who commented about his family's plight, and loss, and flight, and migration to the US and resettlement tells one brave and, in my observation and opinion, more usual pattern of how people who have been beset by terrible harms reassemble their lives.
As well, the "perpetrators" of the evil appear to have made reparations to the best of their ability, and have borne a generations-long burden of guilt and repentance, and,according to remarks made by Norman Finkelstein, have reformed their ways (at 4:19- )
The broken link in the chain of reclaiming and equalizing shattered lives is in the hands of administrators of the reparations funds to Holocaust survivors: the challenge is to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany: what have you done with the money?
Is the CJMCAG in the same category as Arafat's PLO, exploiting Holocaust survivors for its own benefit?
*Keep in mind that this sum represents reparations from only Germany; it does not include or consider any other sums or reparations paid to Holocaust survivors by other "perpetrators."
UPDATES: for the record, links to further, recent discussion of Jewish agencies' receipt of reparations funds from "perpetrator" states, and complaints and adverse actions regarding disbursal of those funds.
Rich in PA claimed that the questions raised in the diary; namely, What happened to the money? Why is Helen Berkovitz living in poverty? were "tendentious" and poorly researched. So I did a little bit more research in an attempt to write the diary Rich in PA and Burrow Owl seemed to think I should have written. I discovered that the topic -- missing funds and unaccountable management of funds that Germany has deposited with the Claims Conference -- is a hot potato that at least one journalist, Isi Leibler, has been tossing about on Jerusalem Post and in Jewish Weekly. Several facts that came to light are that some $7 million dollars is known to be missing from the fund, that that sum may be just "the tip of the iceberg;" and that the German state may demand restitution of the purloined funds.
Scandal at the Claims Conference On Tuesday, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) will be holding its annual meeting in New York. Proceedings will be overshadowed by the recent exposure of a massive misappropriation of funds, which will be regarded as one of the ugliest Jewish organizational financial scandals in our time.
The New York-based Jewish Week recently made the shattering disclosure that the FBI was investigating fraudulent misappropriation of at least $7 million, possibly substantially more, over the past decade from the Article 2 Fund created in 1995 by the German government to provide quarterly pensions to eligible Holocaust survivors. The task of administering the payments had been delegated to the Claims Conference.
It had already been disclosed earlier in February that the Claims Conference had dismissed three employees, one of whom was the supervisor of the Hardship Fund. It appeared that $350,000 was involved and investigations into that fraud apparently led to the discovery of the far greater misappropriation from the pension fund. Had The Jewish Week not exposed the story, there is every likelihood that the public would not be aware of what had transpired.
One would have assumed that a scandal of this order involving restitution funds would have caused a major stir throughout the Jewish world. Yet there seems to have been little follow up or outrage. To make matters worse, Claims Conference executive vice president Gregory Schneider had the gall to inform The Jewish Week that "no Holocaust survivors" lost any money and that there had not been a failure in standard operating procedures.
The arrogance of Claims Conference leaders
At the annual meeting of the Claims Conference in New York last week, there was discussion of my recent column concerning the fraudulent misappropriation of more than $7 million of Holocaust funds ("Scandal at the Claims Conference," July 13). While I was strongly criticized and accused of "ill intentions," not a single factual remark incorporated in my column could be refuted.
Indeed, additional information emerged, adding greater weight to my calls for reforming an organization which is controlled by a small group of people who in practice remain largely unaccountable.
There was a disingenuous attempt to infer that information concerning the misappropriated funds was suppressed in deference to a request from the FBI.
Yet, it was the New York-based Jewish Week which exposed the fraud and only subsequently did the Claims Conference furnish the details.
More importantly, it was disclosed that the fraud has been going on for more than 10 years and that the $7 million already identified related only to information obtained from computerization of records initiated in 2007. Claims Conference executive vice president Greg Schneider confirmed that additional funds had been stolen and treasurer Roman Kent added that $7 million was "only the tip of the iceberg." It was also suggested that the German government could hold the Claims Conference accountable for the missing funds.
Holocaust/Survivor Support/Israel/Poverty Facts, Figures and Statistics
The Holocaust was one of the most horrific events of the 20th century. The Jewish nation was haunted by the Nazis and paid a very valuable price - 6,000,000 Jewish lives. The holocaust ended in 1945 but the suffering is still fresh. 80,000 of the 260,000 Holocaust survivors in Israel are living under the poverty line, according to the Holocaust Survivors’ Welfare Fund, Ynetnews reported. That is almost a third of all Holocaust survivors in Israel. One-third of the Israel's holocaust survivors live in poverty, with little or no help and support. It seems that Israel remembers the Holocaust, but tends to forget its survivors. According to 2007 publications, some survivors in Israel get a monthly payment of about $600 from the German government. Others receive from the government an amount of $300 to 1000$ a month. And some of the survivors, who immigrated to Israel after 1953, receive nothing more than the national retirement allowance. Another important point is that the amount of money given to the survivors is decided by the authorities and it depends on the economic situation, family status and etc; and it sometimes added other benifits (such as returning money for medical expenses). Sometimes the money given by the government isn't enough to pay for basic necessities – not enough for an appropriate and stable living. It is important to mention that Israel officially sets the poverty line at an income of $500 a month which makes the holocaust survivors to continue struggling with life. One of the survivors' main difficulties stems from their poor access to information regarding their rights. At 2007, the law called for the establishment of an umbrella organization that would handle the assistance to survivors, but due to the delay in the transfer of funds, this plan remained on paper and the poverty issue again was left behind. It seems that still there isn't enough intent and maybe even preparedness to the situation in which the Holocaust survivors are in for more than 60 years! As long as Israel will not take the survivor’s poverty issue as one of the most important problems at the country, nothing would be changed and these people, which suffered enough at the Holocaust, will continue suffering and will die humiliated.
* (1$ = about 4 shekels)
Why do they need financial support ?
They survived the holocaust and arrived to Israel ready for new and better life. As it was already mentioned, many of them live under the poverty line, hoping to get that financial support they desperately need. Why do holocaust survivors need financial support from the government- is the main question which can explain us how important is this support for the survivors.
The first and the most important reason is the Holocaust. We all have to take into consideration, that all those people, which survived this tragedy, came to Israel without anything. People who before the Second World War had money, homes and property- remained without anything after the war. For any immigrant it is difficult to start a new life in a new country, but for the Holocaust survivors it was even harder. Most of them came to Israel alone- without families (because a huge number of people were killed and a lot of families were separated at the war). These survivors had not only to overcome over their trauma, but also try to live somehow without any property. Financial support from the government is the minimal help that the country can give these people, who without any normal reason, had lost everything- home, money and of course family. This support can help not only to these people, who are now very old and can’t work to finance themselves, but also show them that people remember and know that they have to receive a special treatment more than anybody else. The duty of Israel's government is to provide holocaust survivors the most convenient and optimal conditions in the everyday life (especially after what they had to go through). A unique emphasis needs to be put on the poverty issue among the holocaust survivors – the government shouldn't save up on them. "They have earned the right to get the minimum, to live a normal life and end their lives in an honorable way." (http://povertynewsblog.blogspot.com/2006/04/israel-many-israeli-holocaust.html).
The relatives are the main source of support. One of the manifestations of old age is the loss of close relatives, and principally widowhood. Over 40% of the survivors are single and most are widowed. There is a great difference in the family status of men and women: about a fifth (21%) of the men are single, as opposed to over half the women (56%). Furthermore, about a quarter of all the survivors live alone. The percentage of women living alone (32%) is 2.5 times greater than that of men (13%). Most of the Holocaust survivors have children. However, a considerable number of the survivors (19%) have no children, or children whom they see less than once a month. We must remember that some ot the Holocaust survivors came to Israel without families and not many of them could build a new family (many women who had survived, couldn’t have kids, because of the deep damages they suffered at the Holocaust). Because of that, they don’t have at present anybody who can support them financially. It can be said that a considerable percentage of the survivors cannot rely on assistance from relatives when required, and that is why the governments support is so important.
Another reason the survivors need the financial support is because of medical necessities. Statistics show that 70 percent of the holocaust survivors are older than 76, and 20 percent of them are older than 86. At those ages health isn't stabilized and health problems are constantly attacking people. Some of them are disabled; others have chronic problems, dental issues, hearing or visual problems, trouble with sleeping and so on. Many of them suffer from severe mental and medical problems due to the hardships and torture they experienced during the Second World War. The older they get the more medical problems and medical expenses they would have. Using medical treatments is supposed to support the human body, to fix the defects it has and to insure the person a healthier and sometimes even a longer life. All kinds of medications together with treatments and doctors' visits cost money. Those expenses can cost the person up to hundreds of shekels a month, which equals a great percentage of the total month expenses. It's important to remember that together with the medical costs, holocaust survivors also need to have money to pay for bills, food, clothes and other important stuff. In addition, 50,000 to 60,000 survivors are in need of nursing care-something which either costs the survivors money or the government. So if they don't get the government's financial support they would have to give up on one of the basic things they need to have. If the holocaust survivors don't get the medicine and medical devices necessary for them, they might have to go through a lot of pain and suffer and maybe even death would be the one to defeat them. "Israel has always been busy remembering the dead but forgetting the living," said Zeev Feiner, a spokesman for the welfare fund. (http://povertynewsblog.blogspot.com/2006/04/israel-many-israeli-holocaust.html) The Holocaust Survivors' Welfare Fund assists only about 30,000 survivors due to budget issues, although twice that number need care and financial support.
Many Israeli Holocaust Survivors Live in Poverty . . . many of the survivors now living below the poverty line had migrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s.
Many, he said, were not eligible for any compensation from abroad or from Israel because of technicalities, increasing the hardships they faced.
Holocaust survivors make up around 40 percent of Israelis above the age of 60.
Haaretz: Holocaust restitution fund spends NIS 30m of survivors' money on itself The Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims Assets has burned through an operating budget of NIS 30 million in less than two years, but it is refusing to say just how much it has managed to turn over to victims and their heirs.
The company was established by a law passed in December 2005, to locate and distribute assets in Israel belonging to Holocaust victims, survivors and their heirs. Some of the assets were to be distributed directly to needy survivors and survivor welfare organizations, on the assumption that only some of the owners and heirs would be found.
As of the end of June, the company had located about NIS 750 million in assets. Meanwhile, in under two years it managed to burn through more than NIS 30 million. Most of the budget came from assets the company held in trust for their owners, with the treasury contributing a small amount.
Increasingly, members of the blogosphere are raising questions about the US-Israel relationship. This comment encapsulates one direction these questions are taking:
And that is why conversations about lobbies, and money, and undue influence, and mayhem committed in our name are important – and the heck with those artificial, politically motivated red lines, and delicate feelings. This is really about life and death for the Palestinians and the peril to all of our souls, Jewish and not. Compared to what’s at stake, the quibbles about how far what blog is willing to go when is just petty stuff.
The Israel lobby in the US has more money than God and Gates. US foreign policy is heavily influenced by that money. Is some of it, any of it, being diverted from funds that were to be paid to Jewish Holocaust survivors?
J Street has called for an investigation into American charities that fund Israeli settlement activity
J Street, the self-proclaimed political home for "pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans," launched a campaign Monday calling on the U.S. Treasury Department to look into whether organizations named in a July 6 New York Times report have broken the law.
The report identified more than 40 U.S. organizations that have collected over $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for schools, synagogues and recreation centers in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
Is there a relationship between these situations; do these dots connect? I don't know, I'm not Eliot Spitzer or Eric Holder.
What I do know is that large amounts of money are being used to sway US congressional and foreign policy decisions and actions, and that Israel partisans deploy a great deal of that influence, and money.
Where does it come from?