Just a few days ago, the New York Times reported about Collette Avital’s report on the incomprehensible delay on the part of Israel’s banks and the state of Israel to compensate Holocaust survivors and their heirs who held accounts during WWII. Today, Haaretz has published a scathing and right-on-target assessment of the immorality of the banks’ and state’s position. Worse of all, the article points out, this behavior will reflect very badly on all Jews, inside of Israel and out. For some reason, the Israelis are not “getting it.”

If you have an account with an Israeli bank, I suggest you send your branch’s manager a strong letter about this matter. Here are a couple of salient points from the article, although you should read it all to feel rage coursing through your veins.

The banks had better realize the course they are facing: If they do not pay at once and without trying to be smart alecks, they will pay after becoming the target – together with the entire Jewish nation – of endless contempt and derision. The world media will condemn the hypocrisy of the Jews, who are demanding compensation from the whole world but refusing the pay themselves. The banks might also be threatened with constraints on their activity abroad, as the Swiss banks were in the United States.

and this:

Moreover, it is unthinkable to oblige the heirs to prove that the account owner has died, as if death certificates were handed out in Auschwitz. This was the Jewish organizations’ central demand of the Swiss banks, and it must apply to the custodian and Israeli banks as well. To prove eligibility, the list of Holocaust victims in Yad Vashem should suffice, and even that should not be necessary (for the list does not include all the victims). The fact that a person held an account that has never been cashed should be enough so that his heirs receive the money, even if he did not perish in the Holocaust but survived, and did not receive his money.

Maybe we should petition Bronfman and the WJC to go after them. The shame!

About the author

themiddle

14 Comments

  • I leave the positive posts to you – although I suspect that if you conduct a search, you’ll find plenty of positive comments from me about Israel.

    If Israel is to become the country it should and can be, things such as what I describe above may not be allowed to happen or to be swept under a rug.

  • I have heard of the awesomeness of your israel advocacy on other blogs, i just wish we could benefit from that here every once in a while.

  • Laya, you do benefit from it. This is advocacy for Israel. If people don’t prevent this ridiculous situation from continuing, then people like me will have to somehow explain away the unexplainable and the unjustifiable. People aren’t stupid, this is hypocrisy on a global scale and it will come back to haunt everybody.

  • Hey Mobiius, I thought that deal was going to falter. I guess not. Only god knows why the government of Israel would agree to let a bank go for far less than its value. Pretty sweet deal for Bronfman Jr.

    Anyway, my suggestion about going to Bronfman pere probably has greater validity now. Imagine the shame of being head of the WJC and watching as your son’s bank (bought with part of your money) is accused of stealing from Holocaust victims.

    I’m sure the Swiss are laughing their heads off already.

  • TM: I totally dig your point that advocating for a better Israel is in fact pro-Israel advocacy. However, terms like larceny are specifically legal and imply criminal activity on the part of the banks. This does not take into account the incredibly bureaucratic and inefficient nature of most Israeli banks. Is governmental intervention needed to clear the log jam? Looks like it. Is it on its way? Seems so. Your last comment also implied bank theft of assets, whereas none of the underlying articles mention theft.

    Is Israel a perfect utopian society? Duh! Of course not, as the press and Israel’s detractors remind us on a daily basis. Is it despite everything, a pretty darned good country? Yes indeed, one of the goodest in my ever so humble opinion.

  • Hey ck, I agree with “Is Israel a perfect utopian society? Duh! Of course not, as the press and Israel’s detractors remind us on a daily basis. Is it despite everything, a pretty darned good country? Yes indeed, one of the goodest in my ever so humble opinion.”

    So there. There’s my positive comment. And I even removed larceny, even though I think what they are doing is malicious, because gee whiz, I wouldn’t want to do anything that brings up the legality of stealing from survivors and their heirs.

    Now that we’ve dealt with that, WILL YOU PLEASE ADDRESS THE TOPIC? I mean, really, enough about me. I want to talk about Israeli banks doing exactly that for which we excoriated Swiss banks.

  • ” … enough about me. I want to talk about Israeli banks doing exactly that for which we excoriated Swiss banks. ”

    What they are doing is wrong. Is there anything more to say, really? Of course, now that this has been exposed, the real test will be the speed with which the government addresses the issue and rights the wrong. Some of the most important lessons in life, I learned while waitressing. What matters is not whether you made a mistake, but how you deal with it. Good, strong government action now and a healthy dose of public outrage (without any apologetics) will do us a hell of a lot more good than just doing nothing or not enough and hoping that this will go away. What happened is wrong. Make it right.

  • I suppose a bank in Israel making it difficult, and therefore slow, for Jewish victims of WWII to withdraw funds, is especially selfish profit making behavior.

    But keep in mind any and all banks do anything legal(and maybe some not so legal) to hold interest making funds to the last minute. I would bet not all the on the Board and Management of these banks are Jewish, maybe not even the majority.

    Point is, banks will be banks wherever they are and elected representatives in States tend to support businesses where the big political donations lie. This post should not be viewed as a ‘jewish’ or Israeli problem, but exposed as a classic case of bank/business selfish profit behavior problem and just how bad it can get.

  • Banks will be banks is not an excuse. Trust me, I verrily look forward to our banks being spanked and spanked hard. I know they are soul-less corportate entities, but still. Spank, spank, spank!

Leave a Comment