Almost half of Israelis say another Holocaust is possible

Almost half of Israelis say another Holocaust is possible

Report finds continuing poverty and loneliness among Israel’s 189,000 survivors

Holocaust survivors Shmuel Gabor (99) and Renee Gancz (87) in their Tel Aviv apartment, January 20, 2015. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/The Times of Israel)
Holocaust survivors Shmuel Gabor (99) and Renee Gancz (87) in their Tel Aviv apartment, January 20, 2015. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/The Times of Israel)

Nearly half of Israelis believe another Holocaust is possible, according to a report released Monday by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.

The annual study, released ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins on the evening of April 15 this year, found that 46 percent of Israelis believe a second Holocaust can happen, five percentage points higher than last year. And a similar number of Israel’s 189,000 Holocaust survivors, or 47%, agree.

Some 46% of survivors also say that future generations will not remember the Holocaust after they are gone, a spike of nine percentage points from last year’s study. A lower 31% of the general public has the same worry, while half of Israelis under 30, the study found, never knowingly met a Holocaust survivor.

The foundation works to help survivors obtain their benefits from the various bureaucracies charged with aiding them. Just 31% of survivors took full advantage of the benefits available to them under law in 2015, according to the foundation’s figures.

While 189,000 survivors still live in Israel, 40 are dying each day, according to the report. Some 45,000, or nearly a quarter, live in poverty with an income below NIS 3,000 per month, according to National Insurance Institute figures quoted by the foundation.

Over one-quarter, or 27%, said they did not have heat in their apartment during the winter months, while 65% said they needed help to pay for their groceries and medications.

Almost half – 45% — report feeling lonely most of the time, though 60% said they meet with family members at least once each week. Over one-third, or 36%, live alone, and half are widowed.

The report praised a reform spearheaded in the last government by former finance minister Yair Lapid that saw a government stipend of 2,000-3,600 shekels ($500-$900) deposited directly in survivors’ bank accounts each month. But, it noted, the plan “doesn’t offer solutions for unique, specific problems, especially among the neediest of the group.”

The average age of a Holocaust survivor in Israel is 83.3.

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