On January 25, Romania’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Ion I. Jinga, attended the annual United National Holocaust Commemoration Service organized by Park East Synagogue of New York and the UN, which this time took place in a virtual format. The ceremony was led by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a Holocaust survivor, with the participation of His Excellency António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations.
In the message delivered to the audience, Ambassador Ion I. Jinga evoked the leading role Romania has undertaken at international level in combating anti-Semitism and advocating Holocaust commemoration and education. He recalled the successful adoption, under the Romanian presidency of the International Alliance for Holocaust Remembrance – IHRA (2016-2017), of the working definition of anti-Semitism and the fact that Romania was among the first countries to introduce this working definition of anti-Semitism in their national law. The Romanian legislation has very clear provisions, condemning Holocaust denial and incitement to anti-Semitism. Also, the Romanian government is at the final stage of approving the National Strategy for prevention and combating anti-Semitism, xenophobia, radicalization and Hate Speech, and the Action Plan for the implementation of this strategy.
At international level, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs contributed to the elaboration of a series of important IHRA recommendations and to the elaboration of EU Council Declaration on mainstreaming the fight against anti-Semitism across all policy areas, adopted in December 2020. It also concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, to facilitate research of the Romanian diplomatic archives on the history before and after the Holocaust of the Jewish community.
While mentioning the importance of the legacy left by the Holocaust survivors, which need to be passed on to each generation, Ambassador Jinga recalled that Romania solemnly marks this tragic episode in history on both January 27 – the International Remembrance Day and October 9 – the National Day of Commemorating the Holocaust.
On a personal note, he evoked his visits to the Holocaust Memorial Museums in New York, Washington DC and Jerusalem, and to the Majdanek concentration camp where, during World War II more than 360,000 Jews – men, women and children – died: “It is hard to describe the emotion produced by these visits; I believe that no normal person can leave a Holocaust Museum without having tears in his or her eyes”. “What I felt when I walked through the concentration camp in Majdanek cannot be expressed in words. On top of a gigantic Mausoleum which contains ashes of some of the victims, we may read a most powerful inscription: “Let our fate be a warning to you!” Therefore, legislative measures are important. But what is absolutely crucial in the fight against ignorance and misinformation, and specifically Holocaust denial and distortion, is the education of people, so we never again witness such atrocities!”