JP Updates Levine, Kallos Introduce Holocaust Reparations Legistlation by Jacob Kornbluh
NYC Council Members Mark Levine and Ben Kallos on Monday announced on the steps of City Hall a resolution to hold accountable companies who profited from the Holocaust and have not paid restitution to Holocaust survivors and their families currently living in the New York City area. The two sponsors of the resolution, to be brought up at Tuesday’s City Council stated meeting, were joined by Rep. Carolyn Maloney who passed similar legislation on a federal level.
The resolution calls upon the New York State government to prohibit companies and their affiliates who profited from the Holocaust and have not made reparations, from being awarded government contracts.
“We are gathered here today – on the Jewish calendar’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, to call for justice for Holocaust survivors,” Mr. Levine, chairman of the NYC Jewish Caucus, told reporters at a press conference outside City Hall. “We generally respond to the Holocaust by looking at the past, by remembrance and mourning those who were lost, but we also need to look at the present.”
Mr. Levine stated that the legislation will benefit the many Holocaust survivors still alive among us – an estimated 50,000 people in the New York City area. “Our obligation is to make sure they have the resources to live out their final days in dignity,” he said.
“We also want to make sure we achieve for justice for them by extracting, in part, reparations from their tormentors – be they foreign governments or individuals – and corporations,” said Levine.
According to the resolution, Global corporations like IBM, Bayer and Siemens should be held accountable for their participation in this gross injustice. These private companies have actively chosen to opt-out of paying restitution to “all identifiable victims of the deportations or to their families,” according to Levine.
“On this day, we remember those whose lives were lost in the Holocaust. As individuals, as a city and as a country, we must never forget,” said Councilman Ben Kelos, a co-sponsor who serves as deputy chair of the NYC 14-member Jewish caucus. “We must acknowledge that there were corporations that worked to build an infrastructure of death.”
Kallos cited corporations like SNCF who transported over 75,000 people to concentration camps during WWII.
“I call on my colleagues in government to tell these corporations that ‘we will never forget,’ and to stop doing business with the corporations until they finally remember,” said Kallos.
Rep. Maloney highlighted her efforts in congress to secure reparations for SNCF, the French rail company mentioned above. Maloney is working to pass the ‘Holocaust Rail Justice Act’ in congress, by ending SNCF’s ability o shield itself from litigation using the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.