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The Republic of Moldova has said it is moving ahead with plans to improve Holocaust education in the country for school pupils and university students, and intends to implement an action plan by next year.
It is also advancing plans to fund the restoration of neglected Jewish cemeteries in the country, particularly a large cemetery in the capital Chisinau, and to fund a Holocaust museum in the city.
In July 2016, the Moldovan Parliament adopted a political declaration to accept the final report of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, chaired by the late Elie Wiesel, which was published in 2004 and included plans for Holocaust education.
Moldova has since authorized an action plan for implementing the Wiesel Commission report, which includes stipulations to update school curricula and text books regarding the Holocaust, and developing a new history course for school pupils and university students on the history of the Holocaust.
Implementation for these requirements was supposed to have happened in 2017 but is now slated for the school and academic year beginning in 2019.
Paul Packer, the Chairman of the United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, a government agency, was in Moldova last week to discuss the restoration and upkeep of Jewish cemeteries in the country, as well as progress on the implementation of the Wiesel Commission action plan regarding Holocaust education.
Packer held meetings with the Moldovan foreign minister and education minister to discuss these issues, and said that the government now planned to go beyond the action plan and make Holocaust education mandatory for school pupils aged 10 and upwards.
The Moldovan Education Ministry did not respond to a request for comment regarding the new Holocaust education program.
One of Packer’s main goals was to secure an agreement to restore the Jewish Cemetery in the Alunelu Park of Chisinau, which, he said, was terribly neglected and overgrown, as well as other Jewish cemeteries, and to place plaques at sites where Jewish synagogues and cemeteries have been destroyed.
The Moldovan government agreed to these requests, and also committed to a project for the promotion and restoration of the Jewish heritage, as well as the launch of a Jewish cultural heritage documentation and research project.
Although a time frame for the restoration of the cemeteries is not yet clear, Packer said that he was “very encouraged” by the government’s eagerness to expedite the restoration work.
“I was extremely impressed how they are embracing the tragedies of the past,” Packer told The Jerusalem Post.
“I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged that this current government is willing, and assured me it will start, to take steps to right the wrongs of the past, in terms of restoring cemeteries, having a Jewish culture and heritage museum built, and in terms of their coming antisemitism and Holocaust education program.”
A representative of the Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova said, however, that although some efforts have been undertaken to improve Holocaust studies in the country, numerous items in the action plan, including the Holocaust education program, have been stalled for some time.
The representative also voiced concern regarding increased antisemitic sentiment voiced in public of late.
“The Jewish community is deeply concerned by the rise of antisemitism in the public discourse of political and opinion leaders, and the lack of adequate reaction and measures taken by the national authorities to counteract and sanction such incidents,” she said. “The dialogue with the authorities has been started on several dimensions, but the implementation of the practical measures and steps has to follow.”
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