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January 23, 2022 5:45 pm

Israel Spends $9M More on Yad Vashem to Preserve Testimony From ‘Disappearing Generation’ of Survivors

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Flares burn in the empty square of Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial centre to mark the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jerusalem amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions around the country April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

The Israeli government on Sunday approved an increase of $9.2 million in this year’s budget allocation to Yad Vashem, World Holocaust Remembrance Center, ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday and after a financially challenging two-year stretch for the memorial.

“History has cast an existential role on us: to remember and remind the world of the Holocaust of our people, and to fight those who challenge our right to exist in the State of Israel,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. “We as the government also share the obligation to make certain that Yad Vashem continues to preserve the memory of the Holocaust in the country and the world.”

The proposal advanced by Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen was approved at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. Cohen said that along efforts to improve the living conditions of Holocaust survivors, it is “our duty to invest in documentation and commemoration so that such destruction will never happen again.”

“Yad Vashem is an organization of national significance for the State of Israel. It does not have to be an organization that pursues funds from donors,” Cohen continued. “One of our main goals in the coming year is to increase the resources to gather evidence and materials from Holocaust survivors as we understand that we do not have much time left to act since this is a generation that is disappearing.”

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Yad Vashem has been grappling with a slowdown in donations since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and related travel restrictions. Donations and funds account for more than half of the Jerusalem-based organization’s revenues. According to the State Comptroller’s report published in October, Yad Vashem’s ongoing budget for 2017 to 2019 amounted to 200 million shekels ($63.5 million). In 2020, the organization had an annual deficit of 25.6 million shekels ($8.1 million).

Bennett remarked that the decision to expand the state’s contribution to the Yad Vashem annual budget was taken ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27.

“Remembering the Holocaust is our moral imperative as a nation. The government decision to provide a budget to Yad Vashem is part of the last will and testament of the six million and mainly a message to the survivors, to the families and to the entire world: The State of Israel will not forget and will do everything in its power to preserve the memory.”

Bennett announced that the government has also approved the allocation of additional resources to the fight against efforts to boycott Israel.

“Contemporary antisemitism comes in many guises. Today, this energy, of Jew-hatred, is frequently directed at the state of the Jews. Our obligation as the State of Israel is to expose it, even when it is disguised, and fight it,” Bennett noted.

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