Washington, Dec. 12, 2017 – The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) applauded the U.S. Senate for unanimously passing the bipartisan Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act (S.447).
The WJRO also urged the House Foreign Affairs Committee to mark up the bill this Thursday to help ensure that it is signed into law by the end of the calendar year.
“The JUST Act is a powerful statement of the United States government’s bipartisan support for Holocaust survivors and their families,” said Gideon Taylor, WJRO chair of operations. “Through this legislation, the United States will help survivors achieve a small measure of justice for the wrongful seizure of their property during the Holocaust. Now is the time – while the remaining survivors are alive – for countries to provide restitution.”
“We thank the all of the co-sponsors of the bill, and Senators Baldwin and Rubio in particular, for their leadership on this critical issue,” Taylor added.
The JUST Act was introduced in the Senate by Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and in the House of Representatives by Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Chris Smith (R-N.J.). The legislation calls for the State Department to monitor and report on whether countries that endorsed the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues are meeting their commitment to adopt national laws and policies to help Holocaust survivors identify and reclaim their properties.
In 2009, 47 countries endorsed the Terezin Declaration, which recognizes “the importance of restituting or compensating Holocaust-related confiscations made between 1933-45.” It also states “the importance of recovering communal and religious immovable property in reviving and enhancing Jewish life, ensuring its future, assisting the welfare needs of Holocaust (Shoah) survivors, and fostering the preservation of Jewish cultural heritage.”
Should the JUST Act become law, the U.S. State Department will be required to document and report on the status of restitution efforts to Congress.
The co-sponsors of this legislation in the Senate also include Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), John Thune (D-S.D.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Edward Markey (D-Mass), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Robert Casey (D-Pa), Ben Cardin (D-M.D.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas.)
In the House, co-sponsors also include Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Sandy Levin (D-Mich.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).
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