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>Israel Faxx
>JN Jan. 24, 1997, Bol. 5, Number 16

Americans in Concentration Camps Can Receive Compensation

By Jim Malone (VOA-Washington)

Attorney General Janet Reno is making an appeal to Americans held in German concentration camps during World War 2 to come forward and claim compensation from the German government. The United States and Germany signed the compensation agreement in 1995.

Reno says hundreds of American citizens, both civilians and soldiers, were held for a time in concentration camps during World War 2. Those who are still alive have until Feb. 23 to begin the process of submitting a claim for compensation.

"Under the agreement, anyone who was interned in a concentration camp during World War 2 and was an American citizen at the time is potentially eligible for compensation. But because claimants must still be living, we are racing against time to compensate them."

The compensation claims are being handled by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission in Washington. Delissa Ridgeway heads the commission.

"To date, we have had approximately 250 claims filed. Of course, we do not know how many of those will be eligible. The reason for the deadline is frankly because it is a very time consuming process to document and to verify one of these claims. The records are not computerized, in many cases there is conflicting information and we simply have to allow ourselves enough time to do that under the terms of the agreement with Germany."

Ridgeway says her office is working with the International Red Cross Tracing Office in Germany on tracking many of the claims. The Germans, she adds, kept meticulous records during the Holocaust.

The German government has already paid some compensation claims, including a $2.1 million award given to a small group of American concentration camp survivors last year.

Ridgeway says some American soldiers were transferred from prisoner of war camps in Germany to concentration camps. She says some of the American soldiers were Jewish, others were described as troublemakers by their German captors. Ridgeway says in some cases no clear reason was given.

Israelis Abroad May be Allowed to Vote

By Arutz-7

The Knesset has voted, in a preliminary reading, in favor of a proposal to allow Israelis who live abroad to vote in national elections. Current law has no provisions for absentee ballots.

Political circles are in an uproar over the issue, and the discussion has crossed party lines. In general, the Likud and coalition Knesset members praise the enhanced connection with Israel that this law will give Israelis who live abroad, while Labor and Meretz are against the granting of a voice in critical decisions to people who do not share directly in the consequences of the decisions.

Adisu Massala (Labor), who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia, is in favor of the motion. He opined that participation in Israeli elections would increase the connection of yordim with the State of Israel, and that it would certainly not encourage others to emigrate.

Deputy Minister of Education Moshe Peled (Tzomet), whose party voted for the bill, said he is against the bill: "The State of Israel must not grant legitimacy to yordim. This would be a catastrophe of Zionism. It would enable yordim to feel that they don't have to live here in order to participate in the State's most important decisions. I would not want our continuation in office to be dependent on the remote-control votes of non-residents."

Age of Aquarius Dawned Thursday With a Star of David

An exceedingly rare planetary alignment took place Thursday, astrologers say. For the first time since the Renaissance, the heavens briefly lined up in a perfect six-pointed star -- a galactic Star of David.

Astronomers say the alignment is nothing out of the ordinary, but astrologers hail the event as a symbolic representation of the long-heralded dawning of the Age of Aquarius. And across the world, events have been planned to usher in the new era.

The new era is triggered by the alignment of a series of planets, which centered on the first degrees of Aquarius and was joined by the sun with the moon opposite them all. The last time the alignment took place was in 1475. Thursday's alignment happened between noon and 4 p.m. ET.

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