Holocaust survivors to protest Nelson, Obama Miami fundraiser

The Miami HeraldMarch 1, 2011 

A group of Holocaust survivors, who once considered themselves friends of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, will be protesting his Miami Beach fundraiser with President Barack Obama on Friday because they say the Florida Democrat has broken a promise to them.

Their unprecedented protest outside the swank Fontainebleau Hotel will be aimed at Obama, too.

Three years ago, they say, Sen. Nelson promised South Florida survivors in his Washington office that he would file legislation to allow them to sue European insurers that sold their families millions of dollars in life insurance policies before World War II. During the 2008 presidential campaign, they say, Obama and vice presidential candidate Joe Biden gave their word of support, too.

Now, a group of survivors, who were children during World War II, say Nelson and Obama have gone back on their word. They accuse them of siding with giant insurance companies over Holocaust survivors.

“We are devastated that they lack the simple decency to respect our full rights as United States citizens,” said David Schaecter, 82, of Miami, president of the Holocaust Survivors’ Foundation-USA. “Mr. Nelson promised to support us face to face, but he reneged.”

Schaecter, who lost his family and countless other relatives in Nazi concentration camps, brought some of the foundation’s members together 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 survivors’ group held a protest at a Boca Raton professional golf tournament sponsored by Allianz, which garnered international media attention.

The federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have rejected the survivors’ bids to sue the insurers, backing up the Obama administration, Justice Department and foreign companies that say an international Holocaust claims commission formed in 1998 was the only way to resolve survivors’ insurance policy disputes.

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