Israel committed to helping survivors, Netanyahu says

Prime minister denounces violence against elderly citizens; Lapid pledges NIS 400 million to aid Holocaust victims

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem last year. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem last year. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The country has a responsibility to the elderly and a special responsibility to those who survived the Holocaust, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, the eve of Israel’s Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. The statement followed several incidents of senior citizens being beaten and injured in recent weeks.

“We won’t tolerate assaults against the elderly,” Netanyahu said at the weekly Cabinet meeting. The entire weight of the government will be put behind the efforts “to prevent these criminal acts and harshly punish the perpetrators.”

Last week, a Herzliya senior was assaulted for “driving too slowly.” A few days before that 75-year-old Amiram Oron was attacked after telling a man not to let his dog wander in the park. A day before that, Pavel Gertman was beaten by the father of a child who didn’t like the fact that the Holocaust survivor had asked his son not to vandalize a park bench.

Those who survived the Holocaust also took part in Israel’s wars and built the country, Netanyahu said, as he pledged to immediately authorize NIS 50 million ($14 million) to help survivors in need. “They are the testimony of our resurrection and our commitment to them is such that we will do whatever is needed to help them,” the prime minister stated.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid announced a plan to transfer a total of NIS 400 million to survivors, many of whom are lonely, poor and in need of medical treatment, over the next four years. Netanyahu’s approval of the immediate transfer of 50 million was the first step in a plan that would see an extra 100 million shekels given to survivors annually.

At the Cabinet meeting, Lapid quoted historian Yehuda Bauer (though he incorrectly attributed the saying to Holocaust survivor and author Viktor Frankl), who urged, “Thou shall not be a perpetrator; thou shall not be a victim; and thou shall never, but never, be a bystander.”

“We don’t intend to be bystanders,” Lapid said.

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