Address for restitution

Marilyn Henry , THE JERUSALEM POST May. 17, 2008


A few days after Yom Hashoah, a nasty drama played out in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It was not about terrorism, the war in Iraq or aid to Israel. It was about a proposed law that would enable individuals to sue in US courts to recover Nazi-era insurance policies.

There are many Holocaust restitution issues that remain unresolved and highly problematic 70 years after the Anschluss. Given how little attention the Congress has paid to survivors and their interests in recent years, when the esteemed Foreign Relations Committee finally took notice, it seemed tragic that this law was its primary focus.

The committee hearing, convened by Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, made clear yet again that Holocaust survivors are a bitterly divided group, with some for the proposed law, some against – bitterly. Of course they are. When it comes to recovering anything that was lost during the Shoah, a lot of pain is part of the package.

But the most painful aspect seems to be the Bush administration’s absolute lack of interest in building on the Clinton administration’s relentless pursuit of restitution of assets that were looted or lost during the Nazi and communist eras.