In the wake of my recent columns concerning the Claims Conference I received a number of heartbreaking letters from Holocaust survivors describing the appalling conditions they or their loved ones are enduring. I wish that these descriptions of the indignities that some destitute survivors are obliged to experience could be circulated to those serving as directors to the Claims Conference.
I am however concerned that despite the anger which is being generated as people become aware of what is taking place, the chairman of the Claims Conference and his inner circle are determined not to change their approach. They intend to weather the storm, assuming it will die down in the course of time and that the directors that comprise the board will not pressure them into reforming the organization or take steps to ameliorate the desperate conditions of the elderly and ailing survivors.
I would urge those of you who share my view that something must be done urgently to improve the plight of survivors to act now and demand that remedial action be taken immediately, even if this requires freezing or suspending other projects.
It is a waste of time to write to the Claims Conference. However you should call on those organizations that are represented on the board and urge them to instruct their directors to raise this issue and demand an immediate independent review and investigation of the organization and its decision-making process.
Since I last wrote about this matter, further information has come to my attention.
I learned that Julius Berman not only occupies the chairmanship of the advisory committee for disbursements in Israel and the United States, but has also taken upon himself to chair seven of the key committees of the organization, including the all-powerful Allocations Committee! This is surely an unconscionable breach of governance and centralized control of a public organization that should not be tolerated. It reaffirms my charge that this important organization has been transformed into the personal fiefdom of Berman and his inner sanctum. I believe this strengthens the demands for a full inquiry into the vast amounts of funds diverted from ailing survivors to organizations and charities that have no direct bearing on the Holocaust.
Linked here is a broadcast of an interview with Israel National Radio following my columns in the Jerusalem Post on the Claims Conference.