There’s not a consensus among the people who benefit most from the organization’s mission — the Holocaust survivors — on the investigation into the Claims Conference’s handling of the fraud. Some, to be sure, find the revelations of the letter to be detrimental to the Conference’s overall cause. But, Berger noted, the Claims Conference is already a “contentious” organization among survivors. For example, the organization has donated millions of dollars to initiatives promoting Holocaust education and awareness — including to Jewish schools, museums, and universities. “If you’re a Holocaust survivor living on social security in Brooklyn, and you can’t afford a hearing aid, you don’t necessarily want the Claims Conference to be spending millions of dollars” on those education efforts, Berger explained.
As Eisner noted, the stakes here are high, even after the obligations of the letter of the law have been met. “What troubles me is that when we are talking about the most sympathetic and needy people in our community… and we’re talking about public money from the German government. We have a special obligation to make sure the money is spent the way it’s supposed to be spent,” she said. The Forward’s investigation into the Claims Conference, she argues, is part of that special obligation, by holding the organization accountable for the ethical and leadership obligations that go along with its central, and admirable, purpose.