Israel’s government cabinet approved a decision Wednesday to allocate NIS 7 million for a project to collect visual testimony from the country’s remaining Holocaust survivors.
The proposal, advanced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Diaspora Affairs and Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikli, calls to broaden the parameters of the initiative and places special emphasis on making the testimony accessible to the general public in various languages and allowing the material to be used for educational purposes and in the fight against antisemitism.
The project is to be led by Chikli and Deputy Minister Uri Maklev.
The government approved a plan in 2022 to collect visual testimony from Holocaust survivors in Israel and overseas, and to make the survivors’ testimony accessible to the public in Israel and abroad.
The project as planned was to serve as the basis for building an educational process for studying the Holocaust and for use in the fight against Holocaust denial.
Wednesday’s cabinet decision — which continues the previous government decision on the project — establishes a steering committee with the participation of representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Heritage Ministry, the Education Ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Diaspora Affairs and Struggle against Antisemitism Ministry, the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry, the Culture and Sports Ministry and Yad Vashem.
The committee will oversee the formulation of an outline to implement the plan and the testimony collection stage, and will monitor work on the collected testimony.
A budget of NIS 7.15 million has been approved for 2023-2024, to be sourced equally from the Social Equality Ministry, the Haredi Sector Economic Development Authority, the PMO, the Heritage Ministry, the Diaspora Affairs and Struggle against Antisemitism Ministry, the Culture and Sports Ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The budget from the Haredi Sector Economic Development Authority, headed by Deputy Minister Uri Maklev, will be allocated for documenting survivors from various communities in the haredi sector, the documentation of which has been lacking up to this point.
Also approved was Chikli’s proposal placing emphasis on making the testimony accessible in various languages in a database that will be accessible to the public thus allowing use of the material in editing and producing educational videos for use in the fight against antisemitism.
“Against phenomena of Holocaust denial and displays of antisemitism around the world, we have passed a decision today that will assist in preserving the memory of the Holocaust,” the prime minister noted.
“We are expanding the important initiative of collecting firsthand testimony, from Holocaust survivors, those who heroically succeeded in surviving the horrors of the Nazis, who tried to destroy our people in Europe.
“They did not succeed, and those who survived the Holocaust continued the marvelous heritage of the Jewish People and established families in the land of Israel and around the world,” Netanyahu added.
“We are committed to looking after the rights and the well-being of Holocaust survivors. We will pass their memories on to coming generations and we will always take care to ensure our future.”