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Romanian Envoy Tells Audience Anti-semitism is the Exception

November 13, 1991
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Recent expressions of anti-Semitism in Romania are confined to a few extremists groups and individuals, the Romanian ambassador to the United States told a Jewish audience here Tuesday.

The majority of “decent normal Romanians” not only ignore anti-Semitic outbursts but condemn them, Ambassador Virgil Constantinescu asserted.

Speaking at luncheon in the American Jewish Committee’s Ambassador Forum Luncheon Series, Constantinescu said Romania’s 20,000 Jews do not fear for their safety.

Romanians have “always lived with Jews like brothers,” he said, appearing to ignore his country’s century-old record of anti-Semitism, including a string of major pogroms that began in the 1800s and continued until the 1940s.

Constantinescu said he was personally disturbed that the Romanian Parliament had recently voted to rehabilitate Marshal Ion Antonescu, its World War II fascist dictator.

He said the only explanation he could think of was that since Antonescu was executed on the orders of the Soviet Union, the rehabilitation was seen as a way of telling the Soviets that Romania no longer takes orders from Moscow.

But he said the judgment on Antonescu should be left to historians, and Parliament should focus instead on bringing democracy and economic well-being to Romania following the overthrow of the Communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu.

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