The Knesset Plenum passed the first reading of the Victims of Nazi Persecution Bill (Amendment no. 16: Switching Terms) 2012 by Knesset Member Ze`ev Bielski (Kadima), which will change terminology relating to Holocaust survivors.

The 1957 Victims of Nazi Persecution Law establishes Holocaust survivors` right to benefits. When rating benefits, the law distinguishes between the disabled who are ”destitute” and those who are ”in need.” ”Destitute” and ”in need” will be replaced with ”entitled to special compensation A” and ”entitled to special compensation B,” respectively. Nothing in the proposed amendment will influence Holocaust Survivors` right to benefits. The proposal further determines that the amendment will be ratified three months after it is published in the records.

In the preliminary reading, the proposal`s explanation states, ”For many years, a considerable percent of Holocaust survivors have lived in poor conditions which do not allow them a decent standard of living. Those who live in the poorest conditions are called ”destitute” and ”in need.” They are entitled to compensations and supplementary benefits such as regular monthly stipends on the basis of their combined disability rating, refunds for medical expenses, electricity discounts, etc., in order that they can live among us with their human dignity intact. Since Holocaust survivors are now proud people, they find the aforementioned terms damaging and offensive; it is well-known that some survivors even prefer not to take their benefits and instead continue to live in poverty, while they still have a remnant of their dignity.

”…This change fits well with the trend expressed in the ”Bureau for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled” name change to ”The Holocaust Survivor Rights Authority.”

”The Knesset is requested to recognize its moral and historical obligation to assist Holocaust survivors, stemming not from their status as ”destitute” and ”needy,” but from their moral entitlement to complementary benefits as we recognize their contribution, their suffering, their needs and their significant part in building the national ethos of the Israeli nation. In other words, the purpose of this bill is to abandon the terminology of kindness and charity, and adopt in its stead one of justice and entitlement.”

7 MKs supported the bill, which passed with no opposition. The bill will return to the Finance Committee in preparation for its second and third readings.