A few years ago, my Mother complained that she has read in Uj Kelet, the local Hungarian language paper, that the Germans have allocated a large sum to be paid out among the camps's survivors, but she nor her friends wer getting anything. I called the German Embassy and they directed to the Israeli Reparations Office. Since they did not answer the phone, I went personally to the office and talked to the people.
My shock was total. It was surreal. The office ladies confirmed that the German money had arrived but they knew of no survivor receiving anything. I said: Somebody is stealing the money! The women laughed uneasily and said yes. I asked what can be done, to protest on the streets? But survivors are all very old and sick and fragile, it cannot be done. That is what there is, they said in a serviceable Hebrew expression, Ze Ma She Yesh.
I wrote a certified letter to Knesset Member Hirschensohn, the representative in charge of the committee of German reparations. He did not answer and was unavailable. Later, my Mother did receive a small sum and I calmed down. I am a very busy person, have no time for protests. But when Olmert selected Hirschensohn as his Minister of Finance I was, once more, in a shock. Could it be that the political elite is corrupt to such a point?
Well, yes. The shameful affair of the German reparations money being stolen was never mentioned in the media. It would have been a national shame. I am sure the Germans knew, but what could they do? All the shame is on us. But then, after a few months as Finance Minister, Hirschensohn was called by the police to be interrogated. They found something small - like inviting his friends to fancy restaurants and passing the bills to the Ministry. He had to resign.
Today I read that
the Tel Aviv District Court has convicted former minister of finance Avraham Hirchson of theft. Hirchson was found guilty of stealing NIS 1.9 million from the Histadrut Haovdim Haleumit (National Workers Federation) which he headed between 1998 and 2005. Hirchson was convicted on four counts of theft by a manager, and also of fraudulent receiving in aggravated circumstances, fraud and breach of trust in a corporation, false accounting, and money laundering.He will spend six years in jail. He should be hanged.
His friend Echud Olmert, the Prime Minister, was also forced to resign. The issue published was using frequent-traveller miles earned in official travels, for family tourism. I shall never know what was the real reason for his defenestration, but it must have been something large and dirty. Shame on us.