Monday, May 09, 2016

Libyan-Israeli ministers repair Holocaust injustice (updated)

Update: Israeli lawyers fighting for Holocaust reparations are complaining that may soon be banned by Knesset law from charging more than 50 shekels in legal fees for each client. The ban would make it uneconomical for these lawyers to take on such cases.


In December, Israel's Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon decided that Jews in North Africa and Iraq who had survived Holocaust events were eligible to receive one-off reparations. Some 
1, 000 Jews applied. Report by Mazal Muallem in Al-Monitor:


Moshe Kahlon: correcting injustice

This one-time grant of 3,600 Israeli shekels ($950) may not be a lot of money, but it restores this group to its rightful place, after being excluded for so long from the collective Holocaust memory. These Jews were also victims of the Holocaust, just like the Jews of Europe. While his decision might seem like a minor victory, Kahlon has managed to use it to implement his social worldview.

It is safe to assume that the fact that the finance minister is the son of immigrants from Libya, whose Jewish community suffered extensively from the Nazi occupation of that country, impacted his decision. At the time, Kahlon explained that even people who were not hurt directly by the Nazi regime but nonetheless suffered from the waves of hatred “are considered by us to be eligible for this aid.” He said that he considers it an honor to be the person correcting “a historical injustice for society at large and for the generation that experienced [the Holocaust] in particular.”

 Kahlon reached this decision together with his deputy, Knesset member Yitzhak Cohen from the Shas Party, a son of Jews who came from Morocco. According to figures from the Ministry for Social Equality, since news of the new regulations were made public, some 1,000 Jews from Algeria, Morocco and Iraq have applied for assistance. These include North African Jews who suffered persecution by the Nazi regime and their allies — especially the victims of the “Farhud," a pogrom in Baghdad in June 1941.

These numbers are small, as many people who lived in those communities at the time are no longer alive. Another prominent figure active on this issue is the minister of social equality, Likud Knesset member Gila Gamliel, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor from Libya. Gamliel also felt that she was on a mission to correct a historic injustice.

Gila Gamliel, daughter of Libyan Holocaust survivor

 “As far as I am concerned, the recognition that survivors and victims of the Nazi regime received over the past few years signifies the closing of the circle. It is doing justice to a large group of people in Israel, which did not receive the recognition it deserved,” Gamliel told Al-Monitor. “In my opinion, as the daughter of a Libyan woman who survived the Holocaust, the State of Israel owes its life to these heroes who passed through the inferno and rose up again to establish the state

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