How Anonymous 2001 Letter Shook Claims Conference to Foundations

Julius Berman Wins Reelection Despite Botched Fraud Probe

Happier Times: Embattled Claims Conference board chair Julius Berman (left) signs a financial agreement with the German government in May. Reuven Merhav (center) has signed a report that harshly condemns the organization’s management while Roman Kent (right) was one of two members of the four man committee who refused to sign the report.
getty images
Happier Times: Embattled Claims Conference board chair Julius Berman (left) signs a financial agreement with the German government in May. Reuven Merhav (center) has signed a report that harshly condemns the organization’s management while Roman Kent (right) was one of two members of the four man committee who refused to sign the report.

By Paul Berger

Published July 10, 2013, issue of July 19, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

In a 21-page letter appended to the report, Schneider, who became executive vice president of the Claims Conference in 2009, said the ombudsman’s report was “deeply flawed.” Since the 2001 letter was publicized, current and former Claims Conference officials have blamed the failure to adequately investigate the 2001 letter on Brozik.

Although Brozik oversaw the initial investigation into the letter’s claims, the ombudsman found it “impossible to accept” that Brozik had any authority over Domnitser. But Schneider insisted in his letter that Brozik was responsible.

“The plain fact is that Brozik, while clearly not a manager in New York, was the second most senior staff member of the Claims Conference worldwide and certainly the most respected and knowledgeable about” one of the defrauded funds, Schneider wrote.

Schneider noted that the report “seems to go to great lengths to blame the New York staff, which I find perplexing and inexcusable.”

Schneider also criticized the ombudsman’s comments on the managerial culture of the Claims Conference. He said that such issues were outside the mandate of the ombudsman’s investigation — a fact that the ombudsman noted in his report — and that, given the ombudsman’s limited time and resources, he could not possibly have investigated this topic sufficiently. “I simply cannot accept this rush to judgment,” Schneider said.

The committee noted in its report that the 2001 letter was not disclosed to the Claims Conference board of directors either at the time it was received or subsequently. Rather than attributing this to a deliberate cover-up, the committee found that the failure to disclose the letter was “part of the litany of lack of diligence, competence and judgment that, as the ombudsman has shown, characterized this event throughout.”

“I vehemently object to this language and accusation,” Schneider said.

Later, he wrote, “There is not a day that goes by in the grueling four years since I discovered the fraud that I don’t replay events in my head, wondering what else I could have done.”

“I considered Domnitser a trusted colleague,” he added. “And so, when I say that I was ‘shocked at the discovery in 2009,’ I mean it. I was lied to, fooled, hoodwinked, duped. I missed it. I am sorry.”

Thirty-one people, including 11 former Claims Conference employees, have pleaded guilty or been found guilty of fraud.

The committee requested that after the final person is sentenced — probably later this year — the Claims Conference should conduct a more “comprehensive investigation” of “the general conduct over many years that enabled such a large-scale fraud to continue unimpeded.”

Claims Conference board members Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, demanded on July 9 that, to maintain independence, any such future investigation must be composed mainly of representatives of the State of Israel and of Jewish groups that do not sit on the Claims Conference board.

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com or on Twitter, @pdberger


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.