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Admirer of pro-Nazi Antonescu drops court bid in Romania

(JTA) — An admirer of Romania’s pro-Nazi leader during World War II withdrew his candidacy for a slot on the country’s constitutional court amid protests by Jewish groups.

Lucian Bolcas, a former leader within the nationalist Greater Romania Party, announced his withdrawal on Monday shortly after meeting with Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta.

“I do not wish that the accusations made against me should have a negative impact on politicians who supported my candidacy,” he said in an interview on the same day with B1TV.

Bolcas’ candidacy prompted fierce opposition by MCA Romania, a nongovernmental organization combating anti-Semitism.

“It is good news that the man will not be nominated and he should never have been considered for the position,” Marco Katz of MCA Romania told JTA on Tuesday.

Katz said the opposition stemmed from Bolcas’ efforts to glorify Ion Antonescu, whose troops murdered tens of thousands of Jews and helped Nazi Germany kill hundreds of thousands more.

The Elie Wiesel National Institute for Studying the Holocaust in Romania mentioned Bolcas in its 2006 report as one of the main promoters of commemorations for Antonescu, who was executed in 1946. Bolcas was among several nationalist leaders who signed a petition in favor of erecting statues in  honor of Antonescu.

Along with MCA Romania, the European Jewish Parliament and the Simon Wiesenthal Center also asked Romania’s prime minister to intervene to block the Bolcas nomination.

Their calls came days after Romanian public broadcaster, TVR3, aired a Christmas carol which celebrated the burning of Jews in the Holocaust and the Romanian word for “kikes.”

“There is a regression in the preservation of the memory of the Holocaust in Romania today,” Katz said.

The Romanian government’s watchdog on media, the National Audiovisual Council, last week fined TVR3 $15,000 for the Dec. 6 broadcast.

The uproar that erupted following the broadcast also prompted the resignation last Friday of Tiberiu Groza, who said he was responsible for selecting the carol in his former capacity as director of the Center for Preservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture, which belongs to the western county of Cluj.

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