Rosh Ha'ayin Mayor Moshe Sinai told Haaretz on Sunday that there was no chance of his city becoming a "sister" to Dachau, Germany, despite rumors of an upcoming agreement.
Sinai denied the recent reports and said cooperation between the two cities would only manifest itself through joint educational tours of Israeli and German students at the concentration camp site in Dachau.
"It's completely absurd," said Sinai. "They took a nice educational initiative and portrayed me as an enemy of the state. I find it hard to understand what is so bad about a group of Israeli teens visiting Dachau?"
Sinai has been subject to harsh criticism of late from Holocaust survivors and Internet talkback posters over the reported agreement.
Petitions have been circulated across the Internet calling for a denouncement of relations between Rosh Ha'ayin and Dechau:
"Where is the shame?," protesters wrote in a letter to the mayor, calling Dachau a symbol of the atrocity of the Holocaust.
The affair began after Sinai visited Dachau last summer. At the end of his visit, his German counterpart, Peter Buergel, asked Sinai to organize delegations of Israeli students to tour the concentration camps.
Buergel told Sinai that he was a supporter of Israel and interested in creating an educational activity to ensure that the Holocaust would never happen again, that anti-Semitism would not prevail and to create a better generation for today's youth.
Despite the harsh criticism he has faced over the proposed cultural and educational relations, Sinai stresses the importance of such a move:
"As Jews, we can't turn our backs on the German nation that speaks from a place of deep regret when it asks us to build a bridge through the kids in order to learn the lessons of the Holocaust," he explains.
Sinai says that Rosh Ha'ayin is not looking for additional sister cities, already having contracts with Chinese, French, and American cities. He is just looking for ways to build bridges between teens in order to create a better future.
Meanwhile, Sinai has been forced to deal with piercing criticism from every direction. Yossi Bornstein, Chairman of the Szczekociny Jewish Organization, wrote to the mayor that he is ashamed to be a resident of Rosh Ha'ayin.
"How deep is Rosh Ha'ayin's ambition to increase its cash flow? What else would it give up on in order to crush the memory of the 6,000,00 Jews exterminated in the Holocaust?"
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