Survivors in Israel Seek Role in Worldwide Restitution Talks

Holocaust survivor groups in Israel are complaining that world Jewish organizations are not representing their interests in restitution negotiations.

Moshe Zanbar, the head of the umbrella organization for survivors in Israel, said Wednesday that in the ongoing efforts to obtain restitution, the voice and needs of the survivors themselves has been lost.

He said that of “350,000 survivors in Israel, 10 percent are in a difficult economic situation. We feel obligated to help them.”

Zanbar was joined at a news conference by representatives from various Israeli Holocaust survivor groups, of which there are 29.

They maintained that such organizations as the World Jewish Restitution Organization, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel have been very involved in restitution efforts, but that survivor groups in Israel had been excluded from those efforts.

In New York, the executive director of the World Jewish Congress, which is the main force behind the WJRO, countered their claim.

“They are a part of the WJRO and have a voice within the Jewish democratic world,” said Elan Steinberg.

“They are entitled to their views,” Steinberg added. “But they are indeed within the tent of the WJRO.”

Detailing his complaints, Zanbar said that in restitution negotiations with Germany, survivors were not consulted in the early round of discussions.

He also criticized Knesset members who made what he termed a “ridiculous” recent agreement with the Italian insurance company Assicurazioni Generali to create a $12 million fund in Israel for Holocaust survivors without consulting the survivors themselves.

Generali, which recently purchased the Israeli insurance company Migdal, has repeatedly maintained in discussions with Jewish groups that it has already settled most insurance claims dating back to World War II.

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