Efraim Zuroff 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
The chief Nazi hunter of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center has been awarded honorary citizenship by the Serbian city of Novi Sad, in recognition of his work in exposing a former Nazi war criminal who helped organize the large-scale massacre of Jews, Serbs, and Gypsies in the city during World War II.
The move came at a time of spiraling anti-Semitic incidents throughout Europe in the wake of Israel's assault on Hamas in Gaza. Anti-Israel protesters around the world have been comparing Israel's operation against the Islamic regime to Nazi Germany.
Novi Sad honored Dr. Ephraim Zuroff for his role in exposing former Hungarian gendarmerie officer Dr. Sandor Kepiro, who participated in organizing the massacre of more than 1,000 Jews, Serbs, and Gypsies in the Serbian city on January 23, 1942.
Kepiro, whom the Wiesenthal Center exposed two-and-a-half years ago while he was living in Budapest, has not been brought to trial due to a lack of political will on the part of Hungarian authorities, Zuroff said.
The Nazi war criminal, who was twice convicted by Hungarian courts in the past, ranks third on the Wiesenthal Center's 2008 list of most wanted Nazis.
The American leadership of the Wiesenthal Center welcomed the honor bestowed on its Israel director, and noted its significance at a time when "the memory of the Holocaust and the victims of Nazism has been under such heavy attack by those seeking to besmirch the State of Israel."
"By honoring Dr. Zuroff, the city of Novi Sad also honors the late Simon Wiesenthal for his relentless pursuit of justice, as well as the memory of all victims of Nazism whose martyrdom is today so readily and cynically abused by the enemies of the Jewish state," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the center.
Zuroff said that the honor constituted the recognition of bringing Nazi war criminals to justice even today.
"It reinforces the important principles that the passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of the perpetrators and that old age should not shield merciless killers from being held accountable for their heinous crimes," Zuroff said at the Monday night ceremony at the Novi Sad city hall.
He was the 11th person to receive honorary citizenship from Novi Sad, which is home to Serbia's second-largest Jewish community.