Friday, July 3, 2009
Israeli firms cheat Holocaust survivors
Israeli firms accused of profiting from the Holocaust
Jonathan Cook, The National: Israel's second largest bank will be forced to defend itself in court in the coming weeks over claims it is withholding tens of millions of dollars in 'lost' accounts belonging to Jews who died in the Nazi death camps. Bank Leumi has denied it holds any such funds despite a parliamentary committee revealing in 2004 that the bank owes at least $75 million to the families of several thousand Holocaust victims.
Analysts said the bank's role is only the tip of an iceberg in which Israeli companies and state bodies could be found to have withheld billions of dollars invested by Holocaust victims in the country... A quarter of a million Holocaust survivors are reported to be in Israel, with one-third of them living in poverty...
Shraga Elam, an Israeli investigative financial journalist based in Zurich, said after the war many Israelis showed little sympathy for the European Jewish refugees who arrived in Israel. "David Ben Gurion [Israel's first prime minister] notoriously called them 'human dust,' and I remember as children we referred to them as sabonim, the Hebrew word for soap," he said, in reference to the rumored Nazi practice of making soap from Jewish corpses. "In fact, I can't think of any place in the world where [Holocaust] survivors are as badly treated as they are in Israel," Mr Elam said.
Last year the Israeli media reported an investigation showing that the finance ministry destroyed its real estate files in the 1950s, apparently to conceal the extent of the state's holding of Holocaust assets.
Image from article quoted.