Israel changes payments to Holocaust survivors

The Israel Cabinet has boosted its budget for assisting Holocaust survivors, even as a nonprofit survivors’ aid group cut its stipends by 20 percent.

Fewer than 200,000 aging survivors remain in Israel. Approximately one-quarter live in poverty, and previous governments have been criticized for not doing enough to allow them to live out their lives in dignity.

The government says the basket of services for Holocaust survivors will rise to $60 million for 2012, a 13 percent increase. An additional $13 million will be directed toward increasing monthly stipends of particularly needy survivors. Stipends currently range between $530 and $1,900 each month.

Meanwhile, some 10,000 destitute survivors have discovered recently that the $400 quarterly stipend they receive from the Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ Assets has been cut by $80. The recipients were never informed of the move, but learned about it from their bank account statements.

Over the past four years, the organization has been doling out a total annual allowance of $1,600 to each impoverished survivor. The new cuts have reduced that sum to $1,275.

The group was established under law in 2007 and is committed to tracing property that belonged to those who died in the Holocaust and returning it to their heirs, or to other survivors living in Israel if no heir can be located. — & ap