Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called Romania a strong ally in the battle against rising European anti-Semitism during a speech before the former communist state’s parliament, according to a report by the Bucharest AGERPRES news agency.
Edelstein on Wednesday reportedly cited recent studies indicating that continental Jews were reluctant to publicly showcase their identity by wearing religious symbols.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Dr. Efraim Zuroff was quick to pan Edelstein’s words, however, telling The Jerusalem Post that he believed them to be a “typical misreading of the current situation in Eastern Europe.”
“One of the paradoxes of Jewish life in post-communist Eastern Europe is excellent relations of these countries with Israel but very serious problems in terms of Holocaust distortion and confronting their bloody Holocaust past,” he contended. “And as a result Israel, which should be the first country to protest against the efforts to rewrite the narratives of World War II and the Holocaust, has refrained from protesting and has not actively fought against these very dangerous phenomena.”
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “in post-communist Romania, political and cultural elites often chose to ignore and sometimes chose to encourage pro-Antonescu propaganda, which opened the door to explicit Holocaust denial and the rehabilitation of convicted war criminals. There have been few public voices raised in opposition to this dominant trend.”
Ion Antonescu was Romania’s Holocaust-era leader and a Nazi collaborator.
While Romania’s president did apologize for his country’s role in the Holocaust 11 years ago, the country “still has far to go in terms of understanding and accepting its wartime history” and “a number of Holocaust deniers still have a voice in Romanian political and scholarly circles,” according to the museum.