Justice Minister Tzipi Livni attended a ceremony marking Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) at the Massuah Institute for the Study of the Holocaust on Sunday evening.
“Remember and never forget is what I was taught and that is what I teach my children," Livni said, adding, “Remembering the horrors of the Holocaust and its lessons is the national imperative for those who were there and those who were born here."
“And just as remembering is an imperative, so do we have a national responsibility for that group who is still living among us,” she added. “These are the Holocaust survivors, the refugees of the hatred who found refuge here in the Jewish nation that arose after the horror. A physical shelter, however, is not enough to survive.
“They have already shown that they can survive, but they deserve to be shown more respect. The honor that was taken from them when they need to reach out and ask the Israeli government for money for food and medicine. The fear that has returned, this time the fear of burglars and thieves, those who beat them at home or in the park. We need to eradicate the terrible phenomenon of violence against the elderly,” said Livni.
"We need to change this not only for them but also for us, for the sake of those same values for which the state of Israel was established,” she said.
Earlier on Sunday, Livni announced that she would sponsor a law that would provide free legal help to Holocaust survivors who are seeking to reclaim property or benefits they were supposed to have received, but didn't. The announcement came in the wake of data that said that many Holocaust survivors were living in poverty.
Until now, survivors were eligible for free legal help to reclaim rights and property only if they could pass a means test, with only the poorest receiving help. The new law will grant free legal help to all survivors.
“The correction to this law will significantly increase the number of Holocaust survivors who will be able to receive free legal help, and will help cut the process of receiving legal assistance in order to enable them to receive their legal rights,” Livni's office said in a statement.
Holocaust Heroes and Martyrs Remembrance Day began Sunday evening, with an official ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
During the ceremony, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Holocaust survivors were “the symbol of the revival of the Jewish people. They experienced the terrible events of the Holocaust, and deserve to live out the rest of their lives in peace and quiet,” said Netanyahu, adding that the government would do everything necessary to stem a rising tide of violence against the elderly.
President Shimon Peres said in his speech at the ceremony that the neo-Nazi movements raising their heads in Europe are both "ridiculous" and dangerous.
He said that the Holocaust left the Jewish people "decreased in number, but not in spirit."