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February 05, 1988 - Image 78

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-02-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


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Yad Vashem

Continued from preceding page





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Dr. Yitzhak Arad, Chairman of
Yad Vashem, cautions, "We don't
have unlimited time."

purpose in the Diaspora,
Arad shrugs and says "May-
be we could, but all our fund-
raising activities are based on
one or two people working as
volunteers. You need an or-
ganization, and for that you
need money. I want to say
something else: throughout
the years, I didn't want Yad
Vashem to become another
Jewish organization that runs
after donors."
In point of fact, there is an
International Society for Yad
Vashem, which this year
raised between $1-1.5 million
in donations. But the creation
of Holocaust commemoration
sites in the United States has
led some contributors to keep
their donations in the U.S.
Those who do donate funds
do so almost exclusively for
building projects and memo-
rials, not research and docu-
mentation. Most donors
prefer buildings or tangible
items they can look at, Arad
says, adding: "We won't ask
Jews throughout the world to
help us pay our electric bills
or pay security guards. But I
think that if we are facing a
problem of millions of docu-
ments on the Holocaust
which are available in East-
ern Europe or even in
America, that Jews also
should contribute to this ef-
Why did Arad wait so long
to raise the issue? "We didn't
want to go public. We wanted
the problem to be solved
quietly and we didn't think
the situation was to the credit
of the Jewish People," he says.
Education Ministry offi-
cials are certain that the im-
mediate problem could have
been solved earlier if Arad
had gone public sooner. But
Arad's determination to stick
to quieter methods was as
much a measure of the man
as of the institution he serves.
Arad's threat to close Yad
Vashem rattled political
cages. The familiar exchange
of accusations between the
Finance Ministry and the

Education Ministry was the
most immediate result.
Finance Ministry officials
reject the "threat" approach
adopted by Arad, arguing
that the whole affair is a "dir-
ty game" with Education
Ministry officials knowing
the Finance Ministry "can't
stand up to Yad Vashem" and
what they describe as such a
"delicate issue." They decry
the practice of blaming them
for all the nation's ills. They
claim Ministers thrust their
most sympathy-arousing
causes forward in a bid for the
proverbial "more." Finance
Ministry officials insist that
"more" simply doesn't exist.
Education Ministry offi-
cials plead that they have
done all they can for Yad
Vashem, trimming from
already red-line budgets.
They propose granting Yad
Vashem a special status,
taking it out of their bud-
getary jurisdiction and
perhaps placing it in a special
budgetary category con-
nected to the Prime Minis-
ter's Office.
A compromise was even-
tually struck to keep Yad
Vashem open: on orders from
the Knesset Finance Commit-

"We didn't want to
go public. We
wanted the
problem to be
solved quietly, and
we didn't think the
situation was to
the credit of the
Jewish people."

tee, the Finance and Educa-
tion Ministries and the
Jewish Agency came up with
$900,000 to meet • Arad's
"SOS." That sum might keep
the institution open, but it's
far from the additional one-
time request by Arad for $3
million to update and
renovate the facility, and an
annual budget of $3 million
he believes will permit Yad
Vashem to function as it
should. He remains less than
"Even after the govern-
ment and the Jewish Agency
solve the immediate prob-
lems, in order to really solve
things --- we don't have un-
limited time," says Arad.
"We'll never be able to feel
relaxed, there will always be
more to do," he says.
Education Minister Yitz-
hak Navon echoed Arad's
concern when he told Israel
Thlevision recently: "I don't
want, God forbid, to be put
into a situation in which one
day a German government
representative will come and

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