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Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
News and Opinion

Rep. Tom Lantos (1928-2008)
Holocaust survior, Democratic Congressman, Voice Against Anti-Semitism

Statement from NJDC Chairman Emeritus Michael M. Adler

“Tom Lantos was a genuine hero who survived the Holocaust and went on to epitomize the American dream, rising from poverty to the highest levels of American government. Never was there a stronger voice for Israel in the U.S. Congress. And, never was there a stronger voice for justice. Representative Lantos will truly be missed. Our hearts go out to the Lantos family.”

Statement from NJDC Executive Director Ira N. Forman

“All of us at the National Jewish Democratic Council wish to offer our sincerest condolences to the Lantos family.

“Representative Lantos was a truly remarkable public servant. He stood up to the Nazis as a boy, and he went on to stand up for justice and compassion in the Halls of Congress as a man. He was the only holocaust survivor ever to serve in Congress.

“In Congress, Rep. Lantos was known as one of the Democratic Party’s leaders on foreign policy. He chaired the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and founded the House Human Rights Caucus.

“Among his first major legislative accomplishments was legislation to give honorary citizenship to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, a hero, who protected Lantos and many others from the Nazis. He went on to sponsor U.S. aid for Eastern European countries that had broken the shackles of communism, and became a strong voice of conscience against human rights abuses in China He was one of the leading voices in the House for sanctioning Myanmar’s regime due to human rights abuses. Among his other accomplishments, Rep. Lantos teamed with the late GOP Rep. Henry Hyde to secure $1.3 billion to fight AIDS around the world and to incentivize India to cooperate with international weapons inspectors.”

“Rep. Lantos was also a tireless advocate for his constituents. Among his many accomplishments, he secured hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for public transportation to San Francisco International Airport.

“Tom Lantos never lost his fighting spirit. In April 2006, Rep. Lantos was arrested during a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy.”

“Today, it was learned that cancer accomplished what the Nazis could not, and all of us who were familiar with Rep. Lantos and his leadership were shaken by the news of this great man’s passing. He leaves behind a legacy of fighting for justice, compassion, and security. Tom Lantos will be missed.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) mourns the passing of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA)

"Throughout his life, Congressman Lantos was a tireless advocate for human rights, a passionate defender of freedom and a relentless fighter for Israel. We are profoundly grateful for his decades of service and leadership to the American people and to Jews around the world," said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks.

The RJC extends its condolences to the Lantos family.

B’nai B’rith International Mourns the Loss of Rep. Tom Lantos

B’nai B’rith International is saddened to learn that Rep. Tom Lantos, a steady and unwavering supporter of Israel and issues important to the Jewish people, has died.

The only Holocaust survivor in Congress, Lantos spent nearly three decades devoted to causes important to the Jewish people, and to all who suffer human rights abuses. He was a champion for vital issues worldwide, including fighting anti-Semitism, promoting human rights, combating Middle East terrorism and extremism, and stopping the genocide in Darfur.

B’nai B’rith International is proud to have conferred with Lantos during his long career. In 2002, BBI presented Lantos with its prestigious Human Rights Award, in recognition of his ongoing international human rights advocacy. At the San Francisco ceremony that year, Lantos said, “It is probably an understatement to say that both the State of Israel and the Jewish people are bending in a windy corner of history. The United States and Israel are in the same fight. If you’re opposed to international terrorism, you can’t hug Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, or the al-Aksa brigades” that Israel has been battling for years.

Lantos, who announced earlier this year that he would not seek re-election to Congress after he was diagnosed with cancer, was scheduled to give the keynote address at United Nations Holocaust Remembrance events on January 28. Too ill to attend, his daughter Katrina Lantos-Swett presented his stirring remarks on his behalf. These words serve as a wonderful testament to a man who never stopped fighting for justice.

In his remarks, he noted that he was a born Hungarian and an American by choice, and as such, he embraced the values of human rights, democracy, and rule of law above all.

Lantos’ life story included his rescue by Swedish righteous gentile Raoul Wallenberg. In his remarks, Lantos noted that Wallenberg’s legacy “teaches future generations the most important lesson in human history.” That is, to become our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. Lantos emphasized that in the spirit of people like Wallenberg, we must rededicate ourselves to fighting current atrocities, and remember, “The veneer of civilization is paper-thin. We are its guardians, and we must never rest.”

Always fearless in fighting for what he believed was right, Lantos admonished the U.N. for not doing more to protect Israel from constant threats. He noted that the world body often took part in “shameless invective against Israel,” and he thanked the many nations that stand up for Israel on a regular basis. Lantos’ remarks also implored the international community to continue its Holocaust commemoration efforts so those killed in the Holocaust will live on and as a reminder and a warning to prevent current-day genocides.

B’nai B’rith International will remember well the strong friend and supporter the global Jewish community had in Tom Lantos.

Congresswoman Allison Schwartz on the passing of Congressman Tom Lantos.

“It was an honor for me to know and serve alongside Congressman Tom Lantos. Tom Lantos was a man of deep conviction and principle who turned his own personal experience as a Holocaust survivor into a lifetime commitment to fight oppression, protect human rights, and defend the safety and security of people across the globe. The depth of his compassion was matched only by his expertise and constant efforts on behalf of America and our international allies. I will deeply miss his good advice and counsel. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Annette, who was his loving partner in all he did, and to his family and loved ones.”

Simultaneous television coverage of the memorial service for Rep. Lantos and the Republican procedural motion in the House of Representatives.

Republican protest vote disrupts Lantos memorial service.

-- John Aravosis

Even the dead are political pawns to the Republicans (then again, we already knew that post-September 11). House Republicans, at the bidding of the Bush White House, are upset that House Democrats are voting on contempt citations for Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton today. So the House GOP members are disrupting proceedings in the House today, calling for "protest votes" and the like that eat up 15 minutes of the day at a time. Well, they just called one such protest vote in the middle of recently-deceased Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos' memorial service, which they certainly knew was taking place. This is akin to forcing people to leave a wake on purpose. The House Republicans and the White House couldn't wait for Lantos' service to be finished before forcing everyone back to the House floor to vote for something silly. They intentionally disrupted a dead man's memorial service for political gain. But as was already noted, the Republicans have been abusing the memory of 3,000 dead for seven years now, so why expect anything new and better from them now.

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