Omission of Jews from EU Holocaust-day statement raises ire

(JTA) — A leader of Flemish Jewry criticized the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, for not mentioning Jews in a statement about the Holocaust.

The statement by Ashton on Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, was “a departure from [recognition of] the uniqueness of the mass murder by the Nazis of the Jewish people” and of Roma, Raphael Werner, the chairman of the Flemish Forum of Jewish Organizations, said in a statement issued Wednesday.

In past talks over commemoration projects with the government of the Flemish region — one of three entities that make up the federal Belgian state — the Jewish group has advocated a policy that refers to the uniqueness of the persecution of Jews and Roma, resisting government-backed initiatives that instead highlighted universalist values.

In her 122-word statement, Ashton wrote, “We honor every one of those brutally murdered in the darkest period of European history.” She added, “We also want to pay a special tribute to all those who acted with courage and sacrifice to protect their fellow citizens against persecution.”

The statement did not mention Jews or anti-Semitism.

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