Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called for Israel to commemorate the memory of
Roma, commonly known as gypsies, who were persecuted in World War II.
move came in response to letters from Jewish Roma families.
the Roma a lot,” Rivlin said on Sunday. “They are a very special community, and
we as Jews respect their demand for recognition of the tragedy they
The Knesset speaker pointed out in an interview with Israel Radio
that there are differences between the Holocaust and the Roma genocide, but Jews
still understand the Roma, who suffered under the Nazis and were murdered in
World War II.
Last week, MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima) gave Rivlin a letter
she received from “Amari Chargen,” the Union of Roma Israelis and their family
“With the mass immigration from the former Soviet Union, there
are many mixed families of Jews and Roma,” Solodkin explained. “These families
have the bitter memory of the Second World War, of the Holocaust and the Roma
genocide by the Nazi regime.”
Solodkin added that her father was a
Holocaust survivor, who told her that he saw Roma suffering from starvation
diseases and torture by the Nazis, just like Jews, and asked Rivlin to please
help the Roma-Israeli cause.
Historians estimate that the Nazis murdered
1.5 million Roma.
A letter from the Roma-Israeli association Amari
Chargen pointed out that Roma were listed in the Nuremberg Laws as an ethnicity
the Nazis sought to “purify,” and that “Jews and Roma faced death together in
Babi Yar, Auschwitz and other concentration camps.”
“The Roma nation is
an ancient one, much like the Jews, spread out for thousands of years and
suffering from hatred by local populations,” the letter explained. “Just as Jews
faced anti-Semitism, Roma faced anti-gypsy sentiment, but unlike the Jews, we do
not have our own sovereign state, and few are aware of the horrors perpetrated
to our people by the Nazis.”
The Amari Chargen wrote that they think that
Yad Vashem is the most appropriate place to build a memorial to Roma victims of
the Nazis, because of their shared past with the Jewish people.