Journalists apologize to Claims Conference


JERUSALEM — Two Israeli journalists apologized to the Claims Conference over a film they made about the organization as part of the settlement of a libel lawsuit.

Orly Vilnai and Guy Meroz, and their Shamayim Productions Ltd. company, issued the written apology, filed Monday with an Israeli court, over their film “Moral Reparations-The Struggle Continues,” that was broadcast on Israeli television in 2008 on Yom Hashoah.

The film charged that the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against has “more than $1 billion” in its accounts and is withholding it from needy survivors, according to Haaretz.

The apology, along with a payment of about $40,000, is the result of a settlement of the libel suit brought by the Claims Conference against the filmmakers and their production company.

The Claims Conference said in a statement that it will donate the payment to Amcha, an organization that provides psychological counseling and other services to Jewish victims of Nazism in Israel.

The journalists said in their apology that they have spent the last five years attempting to assist needy Holocaust survivors. 

“As investigative journalists who view their work as a social mission, we try to engage in critical analysis of various bodies involved in assisting Holocaust survivors. As part of this work, we made this film, which addressed the activity of the Claims Conference,” the apology said. “We regret that in the course of our struggle to correct what we saw as an historical and human injustice, the Claims Conference was wronged due to the fact that we failed to present the whole picture and to accurately reflect all the details as they should have been presented.

“No one disputes the fact that were it not for the Claims Conference, the condition of Holocaust survivors around the world, particularly in Israel, would be much worse,” they added.

The journalists also said that the actual condition of Holocaust survivors requires criticism “directed at those who set policy in this area, as well as of those who implement it, since this is a sacred task.”