Slovak Premier Seeks to Assure Jewish Leaders on Anti-semitism

Despite assurances from Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar that anti-Semitism is not a threat in Slovakia, local Jewish leaders remain worried.

At a meeting earlier this month with Meciar, B’nai B’rith President Tommy Baer expressed concern about the government’s refusal to withdraw from state schools a teacher’s manual romanticizing the life of Slovak Jews during World War II.

He also voiced concern about the appearance of controversial articles published in a newspaper funded by Meciar’s party, Movement for a Democratic Slovakia.

Meciar insisted that anti-Semitism in Slovakia was a marginal phenomena and that he would prevent it from gaining popularity.

The premier maintained that Slovakia had been more diligent than some other former Soviet Bloc countries in returning property that had been confiscated from Jews by the Nazis or the Communists. He also apologized for incidents such as the desecration of a Jewish cemetery.

Frantisek Alexander, chairman of the Slovak Jewish Community, said that anti- Semitism was a cause for concern.

“Racism is developing here,” he said. “Now animosity is targeted at Romanys (Gypsies) and later at the Jews. If Slovaks need a scapegoat, they will find one.”

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