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.
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!