Right-wing Romanian political party calls Holocaust education a ‘minor issue’

BUCHAREST (JTA) — A right-wing political party has caused a stir in Romania for calling teaching about the Holocaust, which was recently made compulsory in high schools there, a “minor issue.”

The populist Alliance for the Union of Romanians, or AUR, released a statement on Monday accusing the government of relegating “fundamental subjects” such as “exact sciences, Romanian language and literature and national history” in favor of “minor topics”, such as “sex education” and “Holocaust history”.

By this, the government is trying to “undermine the quality of the education system in Romania,” the statement read.

The AUR holds a total of 43 seats in the Senate and in the lower house of the Romanian parliament with 466 seats. Holocaust history became a compulsory subject in Romanian schools in November.

Israel’s Ambassador to Romania, David Saranga, argued on Twitter that the AUR’s statement falls under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, which the Romanian government has adopted in 2017.

Speaking to RFI Romania, the government’s special representative for the fight against anti-Semitism, Alexandru Muraru, hinted at the possibility of banning the AUR, calling the party a “threat to the Romanian constitutional order”.

The Elie Wiesel Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania also condemned the AUR, accusing its leaders of hiding “behind parliamentary immunity” to avoid prosecution for the statement.

AUR co-leader Claudiu Tarziu responded to Saranga in an open letter published on Wednesday.

“We are Christians, so we cannot be anti-Semites,” wrote Tarziu, who denied calling the Holocaust a “minor issue.” The senator acknowledged the “sinister horrors” inflicted on Jews by “the Nazi regime”, but did not mention Romania’s responsibility for the mass murder.

Claudiu Tarziu, leader of the Romanian party AUR. (YouTube screenshot via JTA)

According to official Romanian statistics, between 280,000 and 380,000 Jews were murdered or died in the territories under Romanian administration during World War II.

The AUR shocked most of the country by winning 9% of the vote in the December 2020 national elections, entering parliament for the first time. Some of its leaders have defended the record of historical figures who served under the regime of Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu – an ally of Hitler – or who were part of the fiercely anti-Semitic Iron Guard, a revolutionary fascist movement.

Join our Israeli culinary experience!

Israeli cuisine is taking the world by storm. Here is your chance to participate…

The Times of Israel community is thrilled to present its new virtual kitchen series, B’teavonwhere world-renowned chefs show you how to prepare classic and modern Israeli dishes.

Learn more Learn more Already a member? Log in to stop seeing this

You are a dedicated reader

That’s why we started The Times of Israel ten years ago – to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

So now we have a request. Unlike other media, we don’t have a paywall in place. But since the journalism we do is expensive, we invite readers to whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel community.

For just $6 a month, you can help support our quality journalism while benefiting from The Times of Israel WITHOUT ADVERTISINGas well as access Exclusive content only available to members of the Times of Israel community.

David Horovitz, founding editor of The Times of Israel

Join our community Join our community Already a member? Log in to stop seeing this

Helen D. Jessen