Israel Criticizes Report On Swiss Holocaust Funds

By Nathaniel Popper, With Reporting From Jta.

Published April 30, 2004, issue of April 30, 2004.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Lawyers for the State of Israel issued a strongly worded rebuke of recommendations submitted to a U.S. federal court last week on how to distribute any remaining money from the $1.25 billion Swiss bank settlement.

Israel sent a memorandum to the court Tuesday criticizing last week’s report by Judah Gribetz, the court’s “special master” or legal adviser, in which he rejected Israeli requests for 48% of any unclaimed money from Holocaust-era Swiss bank accounts.

In his report, Gribetz largely adhered to his previous recommendations that close to 75% of the money go to needy Holocaust survivors in the former Soviet Union.

Lawyers representing Israel argued that, “in major respects, the Recommendation does not adequately take into account the evidence and material” in dozens of proposals from representatives of Holocaust survivors that Gribetz received before writing his report. The Israeli motion was filed jointly with the World Jewish Restitution Organization.

The motion followed a special meeting in Jerusalem of Israel’s Ministerial Committee on the Restoration of Jewish Property, in which Israeli officials, including the minister for Diaspora affairs, Natan Sharansky, criticized Gribetz’s report.

The Israeli arguments will be heard at a public hearing on April 29, where the federal judge overseeing the case, Edward Korman, will consider all proposals on the distribution of the money. Korman had previously intended to make specific allocations of money at that hearing. Because of the slowness with which the Swiss banks have processed the Holocaust-era accounts, though, Korman and Gribetz have agreed that no decisions on funding will be made until the Swiss banks cooperate more fully.

In addition to whatever arguments are heard inside the courtroom on April 29, a protest outside the courthouse has been planned by the Holocaust Survivors Foundation–USA. The foundation objects to Gribetz’s judgment that less than 4% of worldwide survivor need is in America.

Another disputed segment of Gribetz’s report was his recommendation that no funds go to Holocaust research or education as long as Holocaust survivors have emergency needs. Elie Wiesel has submitted a letter to the court discussing the importance of remembrance.

The various survivor groups are vying for unclaimed money from the $800 million originally set aside in the 2000 settlement for Holocaust-era Swiss bank account holders. Korman has already decided that any unclaimed funds, which could total as much as $600 million, will go to the neediest Holocaust survivors.

Gribetz had anticipated that his judgments on the exact nature of this need would not be popular with all parties. But some American Jewish leaders said the vehemence of the response from Israeli officials was unexpected.

The Israeli memorandum argued that Gribetz “did not take adequate account” of demographic studies that showed higher levels of need among Israeli survivors. The memorandum also argued that, in calling for most of the funds to go to food rather than housing assistance, Gribetz “makes a distinction that should not be made among core life needs.”

In arguing for more funds, the Israeli memorandum painted a bleak picture of the current social welfare network in Israel.

“It is no answer to say that Israel has in place adequate social safety nets,” the memorandum argued. “Those nets are, sadly, straining under the great weight put on them, and they have been cut substantially.”






Find us on Facebook!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • 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.