Anti-semitism in Rumania

Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen of Rumania confirmed yesterday that certain press and literary circles in his country have launched an anti-Semtic campaign. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “the situation in Rumania is serious” and expressed the hope that President Nicolae Ceausescu will intervene before the situation gets out of hand.

Rosen, who has been a member of the Rumanian Parliament for 27 years, paid tribute to Ceausescu and said he presumed that the President was not fully aware of what was going on. The Chief Rabbi returned from a three-month trip to Israel on March 7 and said he found most of Rumania’s 29,000 Jews scared, some actually panicky, about recent anti-Semitic publications.

Rosen told the JTA that before this departure for Switzerland a few days ago, he filed a legal complaint with the chief Rumanian Army Prosecutor charging the authors of the anti-Semitic slurs with incitement to racial hatred, spreading anti-Semitic propaganda and fascist activities. All of these are considered crimes under the country’s criminal code which specifies that the Army Prosecutor is responsible for investigations relating to fascist crimes or activities.

Anti-Semitic articles have appeared over the last few months in a number of papers, including Scanteia Tineretului, the Rumanian equivalent of the Soviet Union’s Komsomolskaya Pravda, as well as in the local Bucharest paper published by the Communist Party.

THE WORST OF THE ATTACKS

The worst of the attacks appeared in a book of nationalist poems by Comeliu Valerian Tudor. The book, which appeared last December and has been widely distributed, contained material reminiscent of the worst war-time anti-Semitic literature. The material in the book said that Jews were “cursed” for being “thieves and corruptors, people with no conscience and no sense of loyalty, who have no patriotic links whatsoever to their country and only think of how to exploit it.”

Valerian Tudor, who has a long anti-Semitic history, does not seem to have been disciplined for his racist attacks and continues to publish articles in various local publications. The editor who dealt with his work at the state-controlled publishing firm which issued the book has been reprimanded and had her salary reduced for three months as an administrative sanction.

Rosen said he was certain that Ceausescu was not aware of what was going on in certain anti-Semitic circles. He pointed out that Rumania’s official attitude toward its Jewish citizens remains unchanged. He cited, as an example, the fact that the Jewish community choir which came to Switzerland to help launch the United Jewish Appeal campaign there did not encounter any problem obtaining exit visas and all the necessary authorization for their travel.

(In New York City, Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress, sent a cable to Ceausescu expressing “grave concern” over the anti-Semitic campaign and stated that “We are sure that your intervention will achieve the cessation of such shocking events.” Bronfman also sent a cable to Rosen assuring him that “we shall continue to give you our moral support in every way as in the past.” Rosen is a member of the WJC Governing Board.)

(Elan Steinberg, director of the WJC-American Section, said that Bronfman decided to approach Ceausescu when it became clear that a series of contacts with lower government officials had failed to stem the outpouring of anti-Semitic material. Steinberg disclosed that the WJC has been holding discussions with American government officials on the problem.)

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