The upper house of Romania’s parliament on Wednesday supported by a large margin a law making the teaching of the Holocaust and Jewish History compulsory in schools starting in 2023, Balkan Insight reported on Thursday. The law was introduced in parliament’s Chamber of Deputies on October 18 by all the parties except the extreme right Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR). It was now adopted by both houses.
AUR senator Claudiu Tarziu questioned the need for the new law given the low level of anti-Semitism in Romania. “There has been no serious case of anti-Semitism in Romania, not only in the last year, but in the last 20 or 30 years, and between the Jewish minority, which numbers several thousand people, and the Romanian majority, no conflicts of any kind exist,” Tarziu said.
But the Ellie Wiesel Institute reported 27 anti-Semitic in Romania in 2020 alone.
Romania under the dictatorship of Ion Antonescu was an ally of Nazi Germany from 1940 to 1944, and an estimated 400,000 Jews were murdered in the Romanian-controlled areas of Bessarabia, Bukovina, and Transnistria.
The new law’s sponsor, Deputy Silviu Vexler, said the past must be a foundation for the future, and “education is essential for the construction of a democratic society,” and added that “the same project, beyond the strictly technical-educational component, honors the memory of Constantin Caragea, a Romanian diplomat who during the Holocaust managed to save over 30,000 Jews.”
Deputy Alexandru Muraru, the Romanian official in charge of combating Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia, welcomed the new law, saying, “Romania is taking a significant step in this direction, taking responsibility for its past and civic education on the Holocaust and promoting memory. Institutions continue to make progress.”
Anti-vaxxer and pro-Russian independent deputy Diana Sosoaca objected to the new compulsory law because she didn’t understand why learning the subject should be forced in schools when, as she put it, “Romania’s history is not taught in Israel. Instead, in Romania, we impose the obligatory history of the Jews. I have nothing to do with the Jewish minority in Romania. One learns about the Holocaust in universal history. I don’t think this is normal.”
But then, again, the years 1939-45 were also not what you call routine, especially for Romanian Jews…