Romania / 07-08-2012
Bucharest - Romania's Jewish community was outraged on Monday when a senator who made antisemitic remarks was appointed as the minister for parliamentary relations.
Senator Dan Sova caused a stir this past March, shortly after he was appointed as the spokesman for the Social Democratic Party (PSD), when he said in an interview that "no Jew suffered on Romanian territory."
Historians estimate that over 13,000 Jews were killed in a pogrom that took place in the Romanian city of Iasi in 1941, but Sova claimed in the same interview that "a total of 24 Jews were killed during the Iasi pogrom by the German army."
PSD consequently removed Sova from his role as spokesperson, and sent him to Washington for an educational visit at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Sova later expressed regret that his statement was misunderstood, but refused to apologize.
The newly-appointed minister is said to be close to Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who heads PSD. Ponta was quick to apologize for his fellow politician's inappropriate remarks, and stressed that they were not in line with the party's stance.
"I think that all those who have a wrong perception of history should see for themselves the reality, the evidence, the photos," he said at the time.
"There are historical events that we must all know and acknowledge."
The president of the Jewish community in Bucharest, Erwin Simsensohn, said that Jews in the country were "infuriated" that a politician who expressed himself so callously was appointed as minister. He noted that Sova's statements were in violation of Romanian law, which prohibits Holocaust denial.
"Only in Romania you can deny the Holocaust and then be appointed as a government minister," Simsensohn told Ynet. "Anyone who thinks that his trip to Washington changed his opinions or stances is completely naïve.
"As far as we are concerned, this is unacceptable. We are loyal to Romania, and we will work with any government. We will make every effort to support projects that are beneficial to Romania. But we won't sit idly by when a person like that is appointed as minister."