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Violent Outbursts Interrupt Commemoration in Romanian City

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Violent out-bursts interrupted a ceremony Tuesday in the Romanian city of Iasi commemorating the massacre of some 12,000 Jews there 50 years ago by Romanians and Nazis.

A stirring speech at the National Theater by Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel was interrupted by the cries of a woman seated in the front row, who screamed: “Lies, lies, lies! It is not true that Romanians killed Jews.”

An hour later, a man interrupted another speaker with a similar cry. Both were escorted out, according to reports the Jewish Telegraphic Agency received by telephone from Bucharest.

Wiesel had been decrying modern-day anti-Semitism in Romania, saying that “the enemies of the Jewish people are ultimately the enemies of all people in the world.”

When he was interrupted, shouting erupted in the crowd of 800 to silence the woman, including a call from Romania’s chief rabbi, Moses Rosen, to hush her.

Men who looked like security officers took the woman and escorted her physically out of the auditorium. But the men gently placed her in an unmarked car and blocked any view of the license plates, said Israel Singer, secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress.

He described the woman as “out of central casting” and said the entire scene appeared to have been contrived from the start.

Another speaker at the ceremony was Gelu Voican, the only member of the Romanian Senate to have spoken out against an attempt earlier this year to rehabilitate Marshal Ion Antonescu, the wartime ally of Hitler’s who was later executed.

“We have to face it: It was Romanians who killed Jews,” Voican told the audience. “We have to cope with it and to get it out of our system.”

MEETINGS WITH ROMANIAN LEADERS

After the ceremony, Singer and Wiesel went to Bucharest, where they held a private meeting with Romanian President Ion Iliescu and Prime Minister Petre Roman. They held a frank exchange about the anti-Semitism now abundant in Romania, Singer reported.

There have been recent anti-Semitic articles in the media, including an attack Tuesday in the Romanian weekly magazine Europa on the Israeli ambassador to Romania, Zvi Mazel.

Singer and Wiesel were accompanied to Bucharest by Romania’s U.N. ambassador, Aurel Dragus Munteanu, himself a Jew, who arranged the meeting.

“We made it very clear to them that what is going on in Romania is unconscionable and that they have to speak out against it themselves,” Singer said.

“Iliescu gave me his word that he would speak out,” Singer said. “He said that he would write us confirming that.”

Prime Minister Roman, whose father was Jewish, “explained that in a country that only recently became free, there are many forces who would like to undermine that, and therefore there are people who are trying to turn the clock back, using the Jewish question,” Singer said.

Wiesel urged the government to allow the formation of a watchdog group that would monitor human rights conditions in Romania.

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