Holocaust survivors protest Israeli stipend plan
Several thousand demonstrators took to the streetsof Jerusalem on Sunday to protest a plan to bolster the financial aidHolocaust survivors receive from the Israeli government.
Six million Jews were killed by the Nazis during the Second World War, and about 240,000 survivors moved to Israel after the war.Many of them live on government pensions that barely cover their expenses for food, medicine and other basic necessities.
The outragestemmed from the government's promise last week to provide $28 million US in new supplements for 120,000 of the neediest survivors.
About 2,500 people marched through the heart of Jerusalem on Sundayand at least 500 elderly survivors rallied by the steps of the parliament building, demanding Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government increase the stipend, which works to about $83 shekels or $20 CDN a monthfor each survivor.
"We don't think that 83 shekels a month is enough," said Gal Rotem, who helped organize the march. "You can't buy food or drugs or anything else with 83 shekels."
"The government of Israel has not recognized us," said Josef Charney, 82, who survived the Treblinka death camp.
At Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting, Olmert said the issue was "sensitive and painful" and acknowledged that previous governments had failed to address it. He said he would meet Wednesday with survivors' groups and government ministries to find the "best, fairest and most just solution," according to a statement from his office.
Many survivors still live with physical or psychological damage from the torture and deprivation they suffered at the hands of the Nazis.
Most of them are now elderly and have been unable to provide for themselves in recent years.
with files from the Canadian Press