A general view of the Romanian Senate, the upper chamber of the Romanian Parliament, in Bucharest, on July 18, 2012. Romanians will vote on July 29 in a referendum regarding the impeachment of Romanian President Traian Basescu, after he was suspended of his duties by the parliament on July 6. Prime Minister Victor Ponta and his majority left-wing coalition in the Parliament have been pushing for Basescu's removal from office over his support for austerity measures. The European Union has called into question Romania's "respect for democratic institutions," following the center-left government's attempt to impeach conservative President Traian Basescu. The European Commission said it had won written pledges from Romanian premier Victor Ponta on all its concerns over the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in his country. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/GettyImages)

BUCHAREST, Romania (JTA) — The Romanian Senate has adopted a law that makes it mandatory for all high schools and vocational schools in the country to teach a specific subject on the history of the Holocaust and the Jewish people.

The law that passed on Monday stipulates that the course will be taught starting in 2023. Its contents will be decided by the country’s education ministry in collaboration with the Elie Wiesel Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania.

In the words of Jewish lawmaker Silviu Vexler, who championed the law, the initiative aims at “countering intolerance and extremism” among youth.

The center-right National Liberal Party and the Social Democrats voted in favor of the law, together with the centrist alliance USR PLUS and the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania.

The law, which was previously passed by Romania’s lower chamber, was supported by 107 senators, while 13 legislators voted against it and one abstained.

It was opposed by the populist right wing Alliance for the Union of the Romanians, or AUR, a nationalist party which received 9% of the vote in its debut in a general election last December and is now the fourth largest party in the country’s legislature.

AUR lawmaker Claudiu Tarziu deemed the law unnecessary as he claimed Romania hasn’t seen a single “serious antisemitic case” in the past 20 years. Tarziu said the law was “in contradiction” with Romanian and European Union laws as well as with “common sense,” as it discriminates against “our fellow citizens who belong to other minorities.”

According to official statistics included in a report by the Elie Wiesel Institute, a total of 27 antisemitic incidents were reported to authorities in 2020. A number of Jewish cemeteries have been vandalized in recent years.

Romanian Jewish actress Maia Morgenstern — who made international headlines for her role as the Virgin Mary in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ” — last March received death threats by an individual who said he would “throw her into a gas chamber.” Antisemitic messages are also rife in nationalist fringe press both online and in print, and historical interpretations of the Holocaust that downplay the role of Romania have been touted by local historians and university professors.

According to the Elie Wiesel Institute, between 280,000 and 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were murdered in territories under Romanian administration during World War II.

1 COMMENT

  1. B”H There’s double satisfaction to be garnered from the twin morning messages — the Netflix series notice from our dear friend Phyllis B. Romania, with barely 2000 Jews within its borders, has passed a law making instruction in the Holocaust mandatory. Don’t wait for my native land, where 87% of Greek-Jewry was exterminated, to initiate anything remotely similar. After all, and within a few days, 11/29/1947, from commemorating Greece’s darkest diplomatic faux pas — a black Sabbath, which nevertheless turned into a glorious Shabbat for Jews! In the UNGA, Resolution 181 was debated, and adopted to divide British Mandate Palestine into two fledgling nations, one Arab, the other Jewish. 33 nations approved, 10 abstained, and the awful 13 nay-sayers included the only European-Christian country to vote against the birth of a Jewish State! 74 years later, Israel, with worldwide Jewry, await Greece’s renunciation of that anti-American-Semitic-Zionist ballot, along with suitable apologies. That’s the greatness of nations who accept responsibility for past errors, tangibly exhibiting philotimo, besa, decency, respect, honor, humility, empathy; also, a rare example of Christian-Orthodox love! The second message received across the Internet was the Netflix announcement that it had created a series, The Club, about Sephardic Jews in evolving, cosmopolitan Istanbul, Turkey. Sure to fire up Greek supremacists on both sides of the Atlantic, ready for the dumb, numbness of an endless drumbeat to boycott anything, everything Turkish, heard regularly emitting from the foul mouth of an Internet host. A general, comprehensive boycott of things remotely possessed a Turkish veneer is necessary to demonstrate proper Greek identity, and mindless solidarity, he darkly intones. Tell this to Greek housewives enthralled with the afternoon Turkish serial Elif (and all other imported novellas); Turkish coffee (rebranded, as is belly-dancing, to be Greek); baklava, airlines, halvah, cuisine, restaurants, organic dried figs, all the nutty half-baked notions that an uncultivated, uneducated nativist brain can drenched up from the deepest recesses of reactionary history! Ironically, both fundamentalist Greek Orthodox-Christians, and Turkish Islamists share a deep-seated fear of change, and a self-destructive envy. The apotheosis of embarrassment, and shame; the continuation of two-millennia-old Greek tragedy! With fraternal affection, Asher🙏🇺🇸🔯🇮🇱🇬🇷😀🌹

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