Romanian president stoked antisemitism, ex-minister says

Ilan Laufer blamed Iohannis, an ethnic German, of colluding with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to block the relocation of Romania's embassy to Jerusalem.

November 22, 2018 08:32
2 minute read.
Romanian president stoked antisemitism, ex-minister says

A man waves a Romanian national flag during a march in downtown Bucharest, Romania, October 20, 2013.. (photo credit: REUTERS/BOGDAN CRISTEL)


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NEW YORK - A former Romanian Jewish minister accused the country’s president Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday of stoking antisemitism, for stopping the Romanian government’s relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem and rejecting a ministerial post for ex-minister Ilan Laufer.

Laufer, who served as a minister in a previous social democratic government, said “These antisemitic attacks on my behalf are all the more painful as 52 people from my family died during the Holocaust, in Romania,” according to an article in the London-based Jewish Chronicle. He blamed Iohannis, an ethnic German, of colluding with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to block the relocation of Romania's embassy to Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Post reported exclusively last week that a Western source said Merkel called Iohannis to urge him to pull the plug on Romania’s slated plan to move its embassy to Israel’s capital.

The English-language website of the German public news organization Deutsche Welle wrote on Tuesday in connection with Laufer: “For critics of the president, it is clear what that intervention was: About one week ago, Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had called President Iohannis last April and urged him to prevent the relocation of Romania’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as had been announced by Dragnea and the government. The report sparked heated political debate in Romania, and neither the president’s office nor Germany’s government have so far officially denied its accuracy. Laufer has lambasted his rejection as an act of antisemitism, and has announced he will file a complaint with the country’s anti-discrimination agency. He said this was not the first time Iohannis had ‘sabotaged Jews.’”

Laufer emigrated with his family from Israel to Romania when he was 14-years-old. He holds dual Israeli-Romanian citizenship.

Iohannis blocked Laufer from assuming responsibility for the regional development position in the current government.

Writing in the Jewish Chronicle, Petru Clej said Laufer “also attacked Mr. Iohannis for his links to the German Democratic Forum of Romania, which Mr. Laufer said was a successor to the German Nazi Party in Romania, vowing to file a complaint against the President with Romania’s National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD).”

Clej further reported that Laufer “would also ask the American Jewish Committee to withdraw the Light unto the Nations medal awarded to the Romanian President in June 2017.”

Iohannis flatly rejected  the allegations of antisemitism, stating they are “ridiculous and baseless.”

According to the Jewish Chronicle, the office of President Iohannis said “References to antisemitism and Nazism represent a dangerous action which can generate antisemitic and discriminatory manifestations and can incite hatred.” Iohannis has not laid out the reasons for preventing Laufer from serving in the government. The Deutsche Welle reported, “One Romanian journalist reputed to have close ties to the government said Laufer’s rejection could only be explained by international intervention in the president’s affairs.”

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