Claims Conference Board A ‘Rubber Stamp’
Tue, 08/31/2010

I resigned from the board of the Claims Conference in June after the chairman of the board and of the Control Committee didn’t accept my proposal to obtain an objective expert’s evaluation of the operational efficiency of the conference (“Clean Up The Claims Conference,” Opinion, Aug. 27).

An evaluation of this kind has not been prepared in years, if at all, although it is a standard procedure for any well managed public organization, and certainly one that disburses hundreds of millions of dollars and has an enormous responsibility to Holocaust survivors in need and to the Jewish people at large. In addition the conference needs the trust of the governments that provide the compensation money for their involvement in the Holocaust.

The internal auditor is allocated a ridiculously low part-time job (two-thirds on an annual basis) in what is a very complicated public organization. This reflects an insufficient understanding on the part of the board and management concerning its responsibility to the Holocaust survivors in need. Among the tasks of an internal auditor is to prevent fraud, and to this end the person designated needs to have the necessary man hours and staff. Had the necessary hours been allocated, it is very possible that there could have been an early warning about the likelihood of fraud, which could then have been either prevented or detected at a much earlier stage. Much embarrassment and damage to the good will of the conference could thus have been prevented.

In addition, the board of the conference is a rubber stamp for the automatic majority the chairman has and exploits in the decision-making process. The case of this year’s board Allocation Committee decision to reject the recommendations of a two-thirds majority of the Israeli board members in respect to allocations for government hospitals and health maintenance organizations’ hospitals is totally unacceptable. It means that the board’s Allocation Committee, of which the Israeli contingent is a clear minority, believes it knows the Israeli Holocaust survivors’ needs better than the distinguished Israel board members, who are all Holocaust survivors and one of whose members is a former governor of the Bank of Israel.

Additionally, the board’s Allocation Committee failed to follow an explicit decision of the Israeli Knesset that money marked by the Israeli Government for Holocaust survivors should not be allocated to government Hospitals and HMOs. In other words, the board’s Allocations Committee, whose non-Israeli members visit the country only now and then, believes it knows better than the Israeli Knesset what is good for needy Israeli Holocaust Survivors. This is incomprehensible.

All the above made it crucial for me, as an Israeli citizen and a Holocaust survivor, to resign from the board of directors of the Claims Committee.

Jerusalem

 

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