Shoah survivors are more prone to health problems than their contemporaries, and are happiest living in Israel, according to research published this week.
Research carried out by the Brookdale Institute identified 233,700 survivors living in Israel. It found that they are 40 per cent more likely to develop heart disease than other European-born Israelis of the same age group. In addition, 57 per cent suffer from high blood-pressure, 40 per cent from chronic back and neck pains and 26 per cent from rheumatism.
In a separate research paper, it emerged that 50,000 of the survivors live below the poverty line, despite increased government benefits last year.
A University of Haifa analysis of previous studies found that survivors living in Israel were better at coping with the long-term traumatic effects of the Holocaust than those living in other western countries.
The researchers suggest that the “national sense of purpose” and feeling of “togetherness” in Israel gives them with a greater sense of support than elsewhere.
Israel’s leading demographer, Professor Sergio DellaPergola, believes that the world population of Jews could be as high as 32 million if the Holocaust had not happened.
Mr DellaPergola, who is famed for his tidings of doom on the dwindling numbers of Jews around the globe, estimates that today’s international Jewish population is around 13 million, although other researchers put the number much higher.
Since there are many variables to the way the Jewish world would have developed if the Holocaust had never happened, the research projects that today’s Jewish population could have ranged anywhere between 20 and 32 million. Mr DellaPergola puts the number killed at between 5.6 and 5.9 million. Estimates differ since many victims had part-Jewish parentage and some had converted to Christianity.