January 10, 2008

Tom Lantos fights for his life

Dear Editor,

Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been diagnosed with cancer and will not seek a new term this year, his office announced Wednesday.

Lantos, a California Democrat, is serving his 14th term in the House of Representatives. In a statement released by his office, the 79-year-old lawmaker said routine medical tests showed he has esophageal cancer.

“In view of this development and the treatment it will require, I will not seek re-election,” he said.

The Hungarian-born Lantos came to the United States in 1947 after surviving a forced-labor camp in his Nazi-allied homeland. He escaped and was sheltered in a Budapest safe house set up by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who was credited with saving tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II.

“It is only in the United States that a penniless survivor of the Holocaust and a fighter in the anti-Nazi underground could have received an education, raised a family and had the privilege of serving the last three decades of his life as a member of Congress,” Lantos said. “I will never be able to express fully my profoundly felt gratitude to this great country.”

In 2003, at the initiative of Lantos, the Congress of the United States paid tribute to Baruch Tenembaum, creator of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, an educational organization named after the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, among them, Tom Lantos and his wife.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said that Lantos “is one of the great experts on foreign affairs and one of the most active promoters of human rights. He has always fought for those whose voices have been silenced by hatred and repression.”

We hope for a quick recovery and a return to the tasks that identify him as a unique personality on the global political arena.


Perla Graisman
Global Development Director