US/World News

Rejecting restitution calls for survivors, Amsterdam gives Jewish groups $11M

(JTA) — The City of Amsterdam approved an $11 million payment to Jewish causes as compensation for money it wrongfully collected from individual Holocaust survivors. Four of the five factions represented at City Hall last week voted in favor of the payment; D66, a center-left party, objected to the plan, The party had sought direct restitution for the hundreds of survivors who were made to pay fines for failing to pay taxes while they were in hiding or in concentration camps. The affair was exposed in an article in Het Parool, a local daily, in 2013, based on the discovery of rejected appeals for remission by survivors, and prompted the city to launch a probe on the extent of the wrongful collection of funds.

The Netherlands’ Central Jewish Organization, or CJO, sought individual compensation for the wronged survivors or their descendants, but Mayor Eberhard van der Laan objected to this course of action, arguing it would create inequality, cumbersome vetting procedures and delays, the Center for Information and Documentation, a watchdog on antisemitism, reported on its website. CJO argues that inequality in some cases cannot be seen as precluding justice for the wronged parties.

Ronny Naftaniel, chairman of Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund and former CIDI director, called the decision “regrettable.” Naftaniel played a central role in restitution talks between the Jewish community and the Dutch government for Holocaust-era property, which yielded $500 million in compensation in the years 2000-2002.

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