Survivors Continue to Endure Hardships Long After the Atrocities of the Holocaust; Congress and the U.S. Government Must Do More to Ensure They Receive Their Long Overdue Justice, Says Ros-Lehtinen
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement today at a joint Middle East and North Africa and Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats Subcommittee hearing entitled, “The Struggles of Recovering Assets for Holocaust Survivors.” Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“This is a hearing we never should have to hold, yet it is a topic that must be addressed, as Holocaust survivors around the world continue to suffer injustices of the past and their needs and well-being go neglected.
I want to acknowledge our late Congressman, the Chairman of this Committee, Tom Lantos, whose painting adorns the wall, a Holocaust survivor with whom I worked closely during his time here on the committee.
Six million Jews were murdered at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust and millions more suffered unspeakable atrocities committed against them and their loved ones. All of their properties and belongings were stolen, as the Nazis deported them to ghettos and concentration camps, where most of them died of starvation, exhaustion, torture or in gas chambers.
The toll the Holocaust has taken on survivors is unimaginable and it is unforgiveable, but we cannot forget that it takes a tremendous toll on the second generation as well, as we will hear from our brave witnesses.
Today there are less than half a million survivors of humanity’s darkest period, with nearly half of all Survivors worldwide living at or below the poverty level. And it is painful to see those who have suffered so greatly continue to struggle day in and day out – as if they had not suffered enough.
And with the average age of Holocaust survivors estimated at 82, time is truly running out for us to bring them some form of justice, some kind of closure so that they can live out the rest of their days in dignity and comfort. I believe that more can and must be done.
Holocaust survivors are barred—barred—from suing in federal courts those insurance companies that failed to pay out Holocaust-era policies. At the very minimum – given that no money can ever replace the experience of suffering under the Nazis – at the very minimum, we should let the survivors and their families have their day in court.
Another avenue for the survivors was the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC), which closed in 2007 – no matter how many times they say, it’s never closed. This system was flawed due to problems with accountability and oversight which led to—listen to this—84% of the claims being rejected.
These survivors and their families need to be made whole; and this is why it is vital for Germany and other nations to fulfill their obligations, and for insurance companies that have been running out the clock in a deliberate attempt to avoid paying out rightful claims, to be held accountable and to finally pay for what they owe these survivors.
These countries and these greedy insurance companies owe these survivors. This is what is rightfully theirs and what has been denied to them for decades, forcing them to relive this atrocity over and over again. And it is not just these insurance companies and foreign governments that have let our Holocaust Survivors down, we need to take a closer look at what more our own Government, the United States Government, can be doing as well.
As a Member of Congress who represents Holocaust survivors, I hear from my constitutions that we in Congress must do more; folks like Joe Sachs, like David Mermelstein, folks we will hear from today, they tell me that all the time. I have heard repeatedly concerns from some of my constituents regarding the failure, the deception, the lies of the Claims Conference and how, though this is intended to help survivors receive fair compensation, it has been an impediment in the process.
Just like so many other senior citizens, Survivors need extensive medical care. They are likely to have greater health needs than the general population and are more likely to face a number of certain illnesses such as chronic depression, cognitive impairments, osteoporosis, post-traumatic stress syndrome. It is therefore vital for survivors to receive the financial, medical and social support that so many so desperately need.
Struggling to make ends meet and still fighting to correct the injustices of the past, it is important to hear from Holocaust Survivors and their relatives as they share their stories and the daily struggles that they face as they seek to live out the remainders of their lives in security and dignity – is that too much to ask?
ICHEIC has let Holocaust survivors down no matter how the members of ICHEIC spin this, so it is up to us in Congress to step-up and help the survivors.
Thank you and I’m looking forward to hearing from our witnesses, and I’d like to point out that we have a person in the audience who is very interested in this, I’m sorry if I don’t pronounce your name correctly, Yael Fuchs, who’s the Assistant Attorney General, Charity’s Buru of the State of New York Office of the Attorney General. Thank you very much and they’ve been closely following the plight of Survivors and want to seek justice for them.
And with that I turn to a fighter for Holocaust Survivors and from his early days as college activist and even before, Congressman Ted Deutch. Thank you Ted.”
Ahead of Next Week’s United Nations General Assembly, Ros-Lehtinen Introduces Two Bills Aimed at Inducing Reforms Within Two of the UN’s Most Broken Bodies
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement today after introducing the UNRWA Anti-Terrorism Act and the United Nations Human Rights Council Accountability Act. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“The strikes from inside Gaza and the response at the UN by the Human Rights Council and UNRWA further cement my belief that these two bodies are part of the problem and have no interest in finding a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian peace problem but would rather perpetuate the violence at the expense of Israel.
The fact that Hamas missiles were found under at least three UNRWA run schools reaffirms a troubling pattern that shows that UNRWA has been remarkably and dangerously inattentive to what is going on inside its facilities, it was willingly turning a blind eye, or both. The United States has been the largest contributor to UNRWA – with the American taxpayers having been on the hook for nearly $300 million last year alone – and therefore has a responsibility to ensure that our funds are not aiding Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization. The only way we can ensure we are not complicit in the aiding of Hamas through UNRWA is to withhold our funds from that body until such a time in which it severs all ties with Hamas, takes accountability for its actions and is completely transparent and above water with all of its operations in Gaza.
“We also must withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council and withhold funding until it can show it is no longer interested in pursuing only an anti-Israel, anti-American agenda. As long as the U.S. remains on that body, we give its agenda credibility and legitimization. Its latest charade to appoint an obviously biased panel to investigate what it claims are human rights violations against Israel during Operation Protective Edge without even mentioning Hamas or its use of human shields in violation of international humanitarian law is a step too far. There can be no justification for the UN Human Rights Council – which is populated with some of the world’s worst human rights violators such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Venezuela and Cuba – to continue to be the supposed arbiter of human rights. The only way to bring about the reforms needed at this much maligned institution is for the Obama Administration to use our most effective form of leverage – the power of the purse.”
NOTE: UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East which was created strictly to provide humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees in 1949. UNRWA has a history of subverting U.S. laws, aiding violent Islamic extremists, propagandizing against the democratic Jewish State of Israel and in favor of Hamas, and working with banks targeted by the United States for money laundering and terrorist financing.
Ros-Lehtinen Supports Package of Energy Jobs, Security, and Affordability Bills
“American families are paying too much at the pump and on their monthly energy bills. We need to take decisive action now to ensure the lowest prices possible for families who are struggling to make ends meet.”
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) announced her support for the American Energy Solutions for Lower Costs and More American Jobs Act, a package of 14 bills that would lower energy costs, spur job creating growth, reduce burdensome and duplicitous regulations, and improve the nation’s energy security.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“American families are paying too much at the pump and in their monthly energy bills. We need to take decisive action now to ensure the lowest prices possible for families who are struggling to make ends meet. This bill will help create jobs, spur economic growth, and improve our nation’s energy security so that families can focus on other priorities and not worry about how they will pay this month’s energy bill.”
Ros-Lehtinen Comments on House Passage of Syria Amendment
“We cannot have a plan that does not address the removal of Assad simultaneously alongside the destruction of ISIL and the other terrorist threats. Even though I will vote for the McKeon amendment, we still won’t be approaching this situation in a comprehensive manner that is required.”
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement on the floor regarding passage by the House of Representatives of President Obama’s authorization request for Syria by a vote of 273 to 156. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“This proposal just examines one piece of the puzzle, not the totality of the Syrian crisis.
The White House should have come to Congress for a full authorization for use of military force for Syria to put all of our options on the table, with no limitations.
ISIL is part of the radical Islam threat, which the 9-11 Commission identified as a serious threat to U.S. national security and to world peace and stability.
I have serious reservations about the President’s plan to train and equip the so-called moderate opposition in Syria because we don’t want ISIL to get even more of our equipment and arms as it did in Iraq.
ISIL is not the only terror group in Syria, nor is it the only hurdle for stability in Syria and Iraq;
There are dangerous terror groups operating in Syria like al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations that are waiting to take up the mantle should ISIL fall, and then of course, Assad is still responsible for the deaths of over 200,000 people.
Last year, the President failed to act militarily when Assad used chemical weapons against his own people.
We cannot have a plan that does not address the removal of Assad simultaneously alongside the destruction of ISIL and the other terrorist threats.
Even though I will vote for the McKeon amendment, we still won’t be approaching this situation in a comprehensive manner that is required.
We were successful in isolating Iran with sanctions– until we unraveled that in these nuclear negotiations – and we can do the same to Syria.
I am afraid that this misguided approach will preempt many to acquiesce and take a deal that would undermine our national security and leaves Iran with enrichment capabilities.
That is a real and present danger in the Middle East: a nuclear Iran.
This could be a calamity for the region and U.S. national security interests, such as the safety and security of our strong ally, the democratic Jewish State of Israel.
Yesterday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey revealed that the use of military forces on the ground may be needed in Syria.
If our military officials believe that it is absolutely necessary to use the U.S. military on the ground, I would fully support that.
We cannot take anything off the table and showcase to the terrorists what we are NOT willing to do.
The full range of United States political, economic and military power must be brought to bear against this radical threat.
Announcing to the enemy a self-imposed limit on part of our arsenal is signaling that we do not possess the necessary will to prevail against radical Islam.”
NOTE: To view Ros-Lehtinen’s floor remarks, please click here.Read More
Luchando A Favor De Nuestros Veteranos, Ros-Lehtinen Apoya Proyectos de Ley Que Mejoran el Cuidado de Veteranos
“Nuestros veteranos merecen cuidado médico de la más alta calidad. Sus sacrificios a favor de nuestra nación son el mejor ejemplo del servicio público.”
(WASHINGTON) – La Congresista Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) anuncio su apoyo a tres importantes proyectos de ley que trabajaran para mejorar los inmuebles del VA y el cuidado de los veteranos. Los proyectos son:
· el VA Construction Assistance Act, para reformar la gerencia y aumentar la contabilidad de los inmuebles del VA para reducir atrasos y mejorar la calidad de las construcciones;
· el Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Improvement Act, para modificar los reportes de contabilidad de un programa piloto que ayuda en la vida diaria de los veteranos que sufren de heridas cerebrales traumáticas; y
· el Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act, que aumenta las tasas de compensación para veteranos con heridas relacionadas al servicio y para los sobrevivientes de veteranos con ciertas discapacidades.
Ros-Lehtinen tiene un largo historial de luchar de nuestros veteranos y sus necesidades. Ella entiende las necesidades de nuestros veteranos porque su esposo, Dexter, es un veterano de combate quien se presentó voluntariamente para el servicio y fue severamente herido mientras sirvió a nuestro país en Vietnam. Ahora oficiales de la Reserva de la Marina, su hijastro, Doug, y su nuera, Lindsay, sirvieron a nuestro país en Irak y Lindsay también sirvió en Afganistán.
“Nuestros veteranos merecen cuidado médico de la más alta calidad. Sus sacrificios a favor de nuestra nación son el mejor ejemplo del servicio público. Aunque nunca podremos pagar el coraje demostrado por estos hombres y mujeres, si podemos asegurarnos que los inmuebles dedicados al tratamiento médico y los programas diseñados para servir a estos héroes funcionen de una manera correcta y eficiente.”
Working to Honor Our Veterans, Ros-Lehtinen Supports Bills That Improve VA Facilities and Veteran Care
“Our veterans deserve the highest quality facilities and care available. Their selfless sacrifices for our nation are the epitome of public service.”
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) announced her support for three important bills that will work to improve VA facilities and veteran care. The bills are:
· the VA Construction Assistance Act, which will reform management and increase oversight of the construction of VA facilities in order to reduce delays and improve their quality ;
· the Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Improvement Act, which would modify the assessment reports for an assisted living pilot program for veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries; and
· the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act, which would increase compensation rates for veterans with service-related injuries and for survivors of veterans with certain disabilities.
Ros-Lehtinen has a long record of fighting for our veterans. She understands the needs of veterans because her husband, Dexter, is a combat veteran who volunteered for service and sustained serious injuries while serving our country in Vietnam. Currently Marine Reservists, her step-son, Doug, and daughter-in-law, Lindsay, served our nation as Marine officers in Iraq and Lindsay also served in Afghanistan.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“Our veterans deserve the highest quality facilities and care available. Their selfless sacrifices for our nation are the epitome of public service. While we can never repay the courage shown by these brave men and women, the very least we can do is ensure the facilities dedicated to treating them and programs designed to serve them work correctly and efficiently.”
WASHINGTON— Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Conference, and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Conference, released the following statement commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month. Beginning in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson as Hispanic Heritage Week, it was later expanded to cover a 30-day period in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. This month honors the diverse influences brought by Hispanics to the United States, and their vital role in American culture and society. This week also celebrates the independence of seven Latin American countries – Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile.
“During Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to recognize our distinct cultures and celebrate the diversity, which are a part of our great country. The Hispanic community continues to grow and thrive in the United States. They contribute to our economy, to our communities, and to our government. So as we celebrate the Hispanic unity, let’s also make a commitment to re-dedicate ourselves to education and job promotion. Only though economic and educational empowerment can our greater Hispanic community reach its full potential. I’d also like to congratulate the many Latin American countries that during this special time are celebrating their independence, a reminder of the Hispanic and American mosaic that we all live in,” said Ros-Lehtinen.
"I'm proud to join the millions of Hispanics around the U.S. who are celebrating the rich culture, history, and accomplishments of our community. The Hispanic community has made extraordinary contributions to the U.S., and by recognizing those efforts, we are able to bring awareness to younger generations to the countless opportunities afforded to all Americans. From achievements in the arts, courageous service in our armed forces, to the successes of their small businesses, Hispanics have made a significant impact on our country. I also want to honor the seven countries who are celebrating their independence this week, and I look forward to continue working with them to strengthen ties between the U.S. and Latin America,” said Diaz-Balart.Read More
Ros-Lehtinen Statement in Response to President Obama’s Address on the ISIL Threat
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement following President Obama’s speech regarding the threat of ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“Even though it’s long overdue, I support targeted airstrikes in Syria but I’m disappointed that the President is once again circumventing Congress on military action. However, President Obama can’t have it both ways – he wants Congressional approval for funds to arm and train the so called moderate rebels but won’t seek our approval to strike ISIL in Syria.
“For years, I’ve been skeptical of arming Syrian rebel groups because we are too far into this Syrian crisis and the situation on the ground is so fractured and too complex. Had the President not dithered in 2011 when we could have possibly identified Assad’s opposition, we could have supported them from the start. In 2013, the Administration had another opportunity to conduct strikes after the murderous Syrian regime used chemical weapons, but he failed to act and we lost the initiative. We can’t risk having more U.S. arms and equipment end up in the arms of ISIL, further strengthening this already formidable terrorist group.
“President Obama can’t be myopic when dealing with Syria. Assad’s forces and other terrorist groups are still wreaking havoc in the country. We won’t be able to solve the Syria problem with just limited strikes against ISIL. The only way to help Syria become stable is to rid it of the terrorist threat and Assad must step aside, and we must be clear in our own foreign policy to address the totality of the Syrian conflict. The U.S. should also lead the effort to cut off the financial and material assistance to ISIL by other nations, non-state actors, and transnational criminal networks. ”
2206 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
I am proud to represent Florida’s 27th Congressional District, a diverse area which includes Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Hialeah, Key Biscayne, Little Havana, Miami, Pinecrest, South Miami, and Westchester.
I was born in Havana, Cuba on July 1952. At the age of eight, my family and I were forced to flee from the oppressive communist regime of Fidel Castro. We settled in Miami and put down permanent roots in our community. I attended Southside Elementary School in Little Havana, West Miami Junior High, and Southwest High School. In the years following, I earned an Associate of Arts degree from Miami-Dade Community College in 1972, Bachelors and Masters Degree in Education from Florida International University in 1975 and 1985 respectively, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Miami in 2004. I consider education a lifelong journey.
I began my career as a Florida certified teacher. I also founded and served as the principal and teacher of a private bilingual elementary school in Hialeah. I was inspired to enter public service by many of the parents and students; to fight on their behalf for a stronger educational system, lower taxes, and a brighter economic future.
In 1982 I was elected to the Florida State House of Representatives and the Florida Senate in 1986, becoming the first Hispanic woman to serve in either body. In the state legislature I authored the Florida Prepaid College Plan, which is now the largest pre paid college tuition program in the nation. More than one million Florida families have used this program to send their children to college.
I was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1989– the first Hispanic woman to serve in Congress–following a special election to fill the seat held by the late Claude Pepper. I have been strongly returned to Congress since, winning 60% of the vote in 2012.
To this day, I remain committed to improving the lives of my constituents and our beautiful South Florida community. As the economy remains a pressing issue, I support reducing taxes and cutting back unnecessary government spending. I also support plans to balance the federal budget and increase tax incentives for small businesses and middle class families. South Florida has also felt the devastating effects of the housing crisis. I have fought to end predatory lending practices by mortgage companies and extend the first time homebuyers tax credit.
Given my background in education, I have worked to strengthen the Head Start program. I have also supported legislation to increase the availability to student financial aid and revise the cumbersome and complicated Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) process.
I am a strong advocate of programs that address the serious problem of domestic violence against women. I was a lead sponsor of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which increases resources towards the prosecution of domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault. I also support legislation to increase criminal penalties for perpetrators of Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud is a deplorable practice which robs hardworking seniors of the benefits they spent a lifetime earning, while also wasting billions in taxpayer dollars.
As the wife of a Vietnam veteran and step-mother to Marine aviators, I am passionate about improving our nation’s military, safeguarding veteran’s health care, and ensuring that returning veterans have access to a college education. I have been an outspoken critic of the Miami VA’s recent failures to notify veterans who were at risk of infection, due to contaminated colonoscopy equipment. I also authored legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). These women pioneers had been denied recognition for their service during World War II.
I am Chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and am now Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. In this role, I continue to voice my strong support for the state of Israel and human rights, including my opposition to Castro’s dictatorial regime in Cuba. I have also led on pressing foreign policy issues including the fight against Islamist extremism, and support of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.
I also serve as a member of the House Committee on Rules. This Committee decides what legislation makes it to the House floor and its members are chosen by the Speaker of the House. My priorities as a member of this Committee is to get our nation’s economy back on track and ensure passage of legislation that betters the state of our nation.
I am the proud wife to Dexter Lehtinen, mother and step-mother to 4 adult children, and grandmother to two beautiful baby girls – Morgan Elizabeth and Caroline Grace.
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More must be done 2 ensure Holocaust survivors live out their days in dignity, security + comfort. They deserve it http://t.co/xqQMUhP3FJ
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