May 1, 2011 / 27 Nissan 5771
Just hours before the nation ushers into the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, the Government of Israel together with the Jewish Agency for Israel held a press conference to introduce Project HEART, Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce. Project HEART launched with the full support of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will serve as the Government’s official effort to address the restitution of property stolen from Jewish Holocaust victims.
Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered remarks to the press event via video and said that, “This is an initiative of great importance and offers us the promise that we can finally achieve the justice so long denied to the victims of the Holocaust and their heirs.”
Leah Ness, Deputy Minister for Senior Citizens, representing the Government of Israel, said, “Not only do the records have great historic and sentimental value, we hope that the restitution of property will help the survivors that have not received any compensation until today for their stolen property and are in desperate need in their final days.”
Rafi Eitan, former Minister of Senior Citizens, was instrumental in spearheading Project HEART said that Israel welcomes the chance to commit itself once again to the families of Holocaust victims so that they could receive a provision of justice. “There is no restoring what was taken away from the victims of Nazi brutality,” Mr. Eitan said. “Yet, it is our moral and national responsibility to do all in our power to redress the wrongdoing done to them.”
Jewish Agency for Israel’s Chairman Natan Sharansky spoke of understanding that Israel and world Jewry must help Project HEART reach every victim’s family. “Project HEART is a cause that demands our utmost dedication,” Mr. Sharansky said. “The Jewish Agency for Israel views the success of Project HEART as one of the most important objectives of our generation.”
Project HEART’s Executive Director Bobby Brown said that the involvement of the Government of Israel in the global Holocaust restitution effort marks an important development for the victims and their heirs. “Israel’s very strength and national determination is derived from those who were forced to experience the very worst of humanity,” he said. “It is therefore incumbent upon the Jewish nation to do our utmost to give them some measure of justice which they have been denied for so long.”
Since February 2011 when Project HEART began accepting inquiries, the program’s website www.heartwebsite.org has received hundreds of thousands of hits. A list of more than 500,000 Jewish property records has been compiled by Project HEART and is available online.