UK: Lobby successfully advocates for Jewish art
British Jewish lobby successfully pushes for amendment to bill aimed at making it easier for British museums, galleries to borrow art work from foreign countries, often concerned their work will be confiscated by British authorities claiming work was stolen from Jews during Holocaust
LONDON- The Jewish lobby pressured the British parliament, resulting in a change to a bill supported by the British cabinet to make it easier for museums and galleries to borrow works of art from other countries.
These cultural institutions claimed that their requests to borrow works of art from other countries were declined because these countries were worried the art pieces would be confiscated in Britain if it were discovered, say, that such works were stolen from the Jews by the Nazis during World War II.
A government official confirmed in a telephone conversation with Ynet that the cabinet won't enter the bill into force without the said change.
Lord Janner, a member of the House of Lords who advocated amending the bill, first gave news of the government's commitment in a discussion of the topic with Ynet.
In the discussion in the House of Lords Wednesday, it was proclaimed that Russia recently threatened to block lending works of art to Britain unless the government would commit that the artworks would not be confiscated and would not be seized if a court injunction were made against them.
The commitment not to confiscate these works of art was at the center of the bill, which the British government advanced a number of months earlier in a bid to ensure that British museums could continue borrowing foreign art pieces.
However, the Jewish lobby in both houses of parliament demanded that the government amend the bill such that British museums and galleries would be committed to publish on their websites the full list of the art pieces that were borrowed no less than half a year before they were shown in their show rooms.
The purpose of this amendment is to allow interested parties to identify works of art suspected of being stolen Jewish property before it is too late, to prevent their display in Britain, and to find out their location.
An government official confirmed in a conversation with Ynet Thursday that the government is expected to amend the bill in January in accordance with the demands of the Jewish organizations. He also said that the new law, which is slated to enter into force in Spring 2007, won't pass unless the parliament authorizes the change.
Lord Janner heard from Ynet about the government's commitment not to pass the law he stands behind without the said amendment. He said that he found the news quite heartening, saying that he thinks the government is making the right move.