Members of a national Holocaust survivors group who once supported U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson contend that he and President Barack Obama broke a promise to them. So they are organizing a protest against the Florida Democrat and Obama when the president appears at a Nelson fundraiser in Miami Beach on Friday. Group members say Nelson assured them three years ago that he would file a bill to allow them to sue European insurance companies that sold their families millions of dollars in coverage during World War II, according to the Miami Herald
|Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
Obama and vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden also supported their quest for such legislation during the 2008 presidential campaign, say group members, who were children during World War II. But since the election, they contend, Nelson and Obama have aligned with giant insurance companies instead of them.
Federal courts have rejected the survivors’ bids to sue the insurers. The courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have ruled in favor of arguments from the Obama administration, the Justice Department, and foreign companies that an international Holocaust claims commission formed in 1998 is the only way to resolve such disputes.
“We are devastated that they lack the simple decency to respect our full rights as United States citizens,” David Schaecter, 82, of Miami, president of the Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation-USA, told the Herald. “Mr. Nelson promised to support us face to face, but he reneged.”
Schaecter, who lost his family and scores of other relatives in Nazi concentration camps, convened other members at the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach on Monday to raise awareness about their struggle to win the right to sue European insurers, such as Allianz AG, Generali, and others. Last month, the group protested at a professional golf tournament that Allianz sponsored in Boca Raton, Fla.
The Florida survivors have written to Nelson twice during the past year, upbraiding him for not introducing the bill. Nelson convened a hearing on the issue but didn’t file the bill, the Herald reported. "Thousands have died needlessly and without the resources they are entitled to, while you and Congress have stood by without action,” one of the letters said.
A spokesman for Nelson, who is up for re-election in 2012, told the Herald that the senator didn’t betray the survivors but rather, found at the hearing that there isn’t enough support for the measure.
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