U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with three of her Florida colleagues, welcomed the recent decision by the Florida Commissioner of Education to discontinue Florida's Memorandum of Understanding with SNCF, a French railway company which transported Jews to concentration camps during World War II for profit, to underwrite Holocaust education efforts in Florida. Joint statement by Ros-Lehtinen, U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), Rep. Allen West (R-FL) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL):
"During the Holocaust, SNCF transported more than 75,000 Jews and other innocent victims, including several of our constituents, to Nazi concentration camps for profit. SNCF has not contributed to post-war reparations, seeking instead to whitewash its image through public relations campaigns after beginning to pursue high speed rail contracts in the United States. SNCF's push to underwrite Holocaust education programs in Florida was inappropriate given these circumstances, and we are pleased that Florida's Education Commissioner discontinued the partnership.
"Holocaust education honors the memories of those who were murdered during the Holocaust, and instills in our children the values of tolerance, understanding, and respect necessary to prevent such atrocities from taking place again. However, supporting Holocaust education is no substitute for directly addressing wrongdoing, and SNCF must be compelled to make amends to its victims.
"It is our hope that this Congress will soon pass legislation that will finally hold SNCF accountable for its actions."
NOTE: H.R. 1193 - the Holocaust Rail Justice Act, was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), and is co-sponsored by Ros-Lehtinen, Deutch, West and Wasserman Schultz. The bill would prevent SNCF from using the defense of foreign sovereign immunity in federal court, enabling SNCF's victims to seek justice in the American court system.