Monday, September 8, 2008

Holocaust Claims Conference Foresees Lack Of Funds

Israel -- If it goes on distributing $1 million a year to organizations serving the needs of Holocaust survivors, the Claims Conference will run out of funds within six years, Conference Chairman Reuven Merhav told a Knesset panel on Monday.

On Monday, the first meeting of the parliamentary inquiry committee on Holocaust survivor reparations heard that most of the conference's budget to date has come from the sales of unclaimed Jewish property in the former East Germany- a source of funding that experts say is rapidly drying up.

The Claims Conference was founded in 1951 as an organization to represent world Jewry in negotiations with Germany over Holocaust reparations. Since then, more than 500,000 Holocaust survivors in 75 countries have received compensation payments totaling more than $60 billion. The Claims Conference has also allocated approximately $1 billion to organizations meeting the social service needs of Holocaust survivors, and engaging in education, research, and documentation of the Holocaust.

However, the Claims Conference has come under fire recently for allegedly spending money on projects that did not aid Holocaust victims while many of the victims live in destitute conditions.

Earlier this year, Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz decided to set up an inquiry committee to examine the organization’s procedures, because "for the 56 years of its existence, the Claims Conference was not subject to public scrutiny, which is wrong and inappropriate. It's time to discuss its roles and structure thoroughly and substantively."

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