Fight Over Holocaust Victims' Assets Rocks Israel

Mission to trace assets of murdered Jews facing resistance from Israeli government, businesses
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2008 8:16 AM CST
An Israeli Holocaust survivor wears a yellow Star of David that reads "Jude", Jew in German during a demonstration next to the Knesset, Israel's Parliament in Jerusalem, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2007.    (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
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(Newser) – The quest to return assets of Holocaust victims to their heirs, instigated by the Israeli parliament, is now focusing on Israel itself, the Wall Street Journal reports, and it's meeting as much resistance at home as it did in Europe. Many European Jews invested in what was then Palestine during the '20s and '30s, only to die at the hands of the Nazis before they could realize their dream of emigration. Israeli banks, and even the government, are accused of short-changing their heirs.

The company created by Israel's parliament to track ownership estimates $1 billion of victims' assets—including some of the country's most expensive real estate—is in the wrong hands, but it is facing stiff resistance from many institutions. Israelis argue that they should be treated differently than European institutions that actively assisted the Nazis, and that the Holocaust victims assets appropriately went toward building a Jewish homeland.