Protest Sent to Romania Over President's Holocaust Comment

Israel has issued Romania a stern rebuke after the country's president told Haaretz the Holocaust was "not unique to the Jews."

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Israel has issued Romania a stern rebuke after the country's president told Haaretz the Holocaust was "not unique to the Jews."

The Romanian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and Israel's ambassador to Bucharest was ordered to submit a strong protest at "this miserable statement," ministry spokesman David Saranga said. This is the second time in two months that Romanian ambassador Valeria Mariana Stoica has been taken to task over her country's statements about the Holocaust.

On June 13 the Romanian government denied any Holocaust took place inside the country's frontiers. Following protests from Israel and the Romanian Jewish community, the government acknowledged that its former leaders had deported and exterminated Romanian Jews during World War II.

In an interview with Haaretz newspaper published Friday, Romanian President Ion Iliescu was quoted as saying: "The Holocaust was not unique to the Jewish population in Europe. Many others, including Poles, died in the same way. In the Romania of the Nazi period both Jews and Communists were treated equally," Iliescu said, adding that his father, a communist, was sent to a camp and died a year after being released.

But Dorel Dorian, a Romanian lawmaker who represents the Jewish community, said: "The Holocaust has a precise meaning, as the application of the final solution to Jews. It's true that tens of millions of Poles, Ukrainians, communists and others also died, but for Jews it was a planned process of extermination," Dorian said.

Israel asked the Romanian ambassador to clarify whether Iliescu's statements reflected the view of the Romanian government or just the president, said Saranga. Iliescu was quoted as saying he as surprised by Israel's reaction to his comments.

"I don't understand the reaction. I said the Holocaust was a phenomenon that affected the entire Europe. There is no Romanian, or German or Polish Holocaust. It was a general process, and some of its European components happened on Romania's territory," Iliescu was quoted as saying by Romania's Mediafax news agency.

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