D'amato, Alfonse M.°

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D'AMATO, ALFONSE M. ° (1937– ), U.S. politician. Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised on Long Island, he got his start in politics in rough-and-tumble Nassau County. D'Amato was a United States senator from 1981 until 1999 after defeating New York icon, incumbent Senator Jacob *Javits. D'Amato was popular with his more generally liberal Jewish constituents as well as other New Yorkers. Like most New York senators, D'Amato was an ardent supporter of Israel. He was well known for serving the needs of his constituents. Among the many constituents he served with dedication and determination were Holocaust survivors and their heirs in their battle to recover dormant accounts in Swiss banks. In 1996, Senator D'Amato chaired a hearing on the Swiss bank controversy before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee. He was the first to testify before the House on the necessity of investigating what happened to billions of dollars in Swiss banks from funds deposited by Jews or Jewish property looted by Nazis in the World War ii era. D'Amato's work, along with that of the World Jewish Congress, forced Switzerland to face its past, its myth of wartime neutrality, and its postwar actions and to take the beginning steps towards a measure of justice in the fight for Holocaust restitution.

[Beth Cohen (2nd ed.)]

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D'amato, Alfonse M.°

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