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Rubio, Baldwin Advance Bill to Help Holocaust Survivors
Washington, D.C.- U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) applauded passage of the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. This bipartisan legislation will improve efforts assisting Holocaust survivors and the families of Holocaust victims by requiring the State Department to report on the progress of certain European countries on the return of—or restitution for—wrongfully confiscated or transferred Holocaust-era assets.
“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of the JUST Act is one more step toward ensuring justice for Holocaust survivors and the families of Holocaust victims,” said Rubio. “By enhancing ongoing efforts between the State Department and European countries, this bill will help facilitate long deserved restitution to survivors and their families whose property was stolen during the Holocaust. I applaud today’s measure, and I look forward to the JUST Act’s final passage before the Senate.”
“I applaud the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today for supporting this bipartisan effort to ensure justice is done, at long last, for Holocaust survivors and the families of Holocaust victims,” said Baldwin. “These individuals have waited far too long to recover, or receive compensation for, what is rightfully theirs, and by highlighting this issue as an American foreign policy priority, we will spur action in countries that are falling short of their obligations. I look forward to seeing this bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate as soon as possible, and ultimately signed in to law.”
The JUST Act will build on the international Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues of 2009, which affirms that the protection of property rights is an essential component of a democratic society based on the rule of law and recognizes the importance of restituting or compensating Holocaust-related confiscations made during the Holocaust-era between 1933-45. Unfortunately, many nations that endorsed this declaration, including many NATO allies, have not fully addressed the restitution of Jewish communal, private and heirless property.
The JUST Act permanently amends current law to require the State Department to report on certain countries’ compliance with and progress toward the goals of the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets, as well as on what actions those countries are taking to resolve the claims of U.S. citizens. This will enhance on-going U.S. efforts to urge Central and Eastern European countries to achieve progress on this issue and will help build on America’s commitment to ensuring justice for Holocaust victims and their families.
The public record created by the JUST Act will serve as a powerful tool for the U.S. State Department and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO)—the global umbrella body that advocates on behalf of the Jewish community for the restitution of property confiscated during the Holocaust and its aftermath—to encourage Terezin countries to complete the restitution process. Senators Baldwin and Rubio call on those countries to work with the State Department and WJRO to fulfill their property restitution obligations.
“The JUST Act will encourage countries across Europe to meet their responsibilities to Holocaust survivors and their families who have waited too long for justice. We thank Senators Baldwin and Rubio for their tireless advocacy on behalf of Holocaust survivors and their families,” said Gideon Taylor, the World Jewish Restitution Organization’s Chair of Operations.
“Addressing the claims of Holocaust survivors is a pressing issue. Despite international declarations on the need to resolve claims relating to Nazi-expropriated property, most formerly Jewish-owned properties confiscated by the Nazis and their collaborators have not been returned, nor has compensation been provided to the rightful owners or their heirs. Justice for those who endured unprecedented hardships during the Holocaust is a moral necessity—ensuring that victims are given what is rightfully theirs should be a U.S. foreign policy priority. S.447, the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act of 2017, will help ensure the return of, or proper restitution for, assets stolen from Jews during the Holocaust,” said Rabbi Andrew Baker, Director of International Jewish Affairs, AJC.
“The Jewish Federations of North America applaud Senators Baldwin and Rubio for their leadership on The Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act (S. 447), which will generate a more robust public record of restitution efforts by European governments. While many countries have made progress in addressing property restitution, others have not and time is running out. We are also grateful to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for their consideration of this important issue. With Congress and the State Department working together, we will shine a spotlight on those countries that still need to stand by their promises to the victims of the Holocaust. Holocaust survivors and their families deserve no less,” said William Daroff, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office of the Jewish Federations of North America (JNFA).
The JUST Act has received strong support from organizations across the country including World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), American Jewish Committee (AJC), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), J Street, Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), B’nai B’rith International, HIAS refugee assistance organization, National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation in Milwaukee.
In addition to Rubio and Baldwin, the JUST Act is cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Todd C. Young (R-IN), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John McCain (R-AZ), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), John Thune (R-SD), Gary C. Peters (D-MI), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).
A companion bill was introduced in the House in February by U.S. Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ).