Romania’s government announced a three-year anti-Semitism strategy on Thursday vowing to have „zero tolerance” for anti-Semitism, xenophobia and hate speech.
The strategy aims to prevent an escalation of acts of anti-Semitism and hate speech in Romania.
„This strategy will have a significant impact on pre-university students, teachers, and the employee of public institutes, and civil society activists,” a statement said.
„There haven’t been acts of violence of a terrorist nature, but there is a risk of them happening in the future,” a statement from the office of the special representative of the Romanian government promoting the policies of memory for fighting anti-Semitism and xenophobia said.
Acts of vandalism
It said that acts of vandalism and”other incidents” had been committed against ethnic and religious minority groups in Romania.
The strategy will also collect data on anti-Semitic and other xenophobic incidents, including conspiracy theories and fake news “which test the resilience of Romanian society.”
Experts will assess current school text books and teacher training courses up to university level. There will be masters degrees and doctoral theses on anti-Semitism and pilot programs for cultivating empathy and tolerance.
The strategy will be assessed every year before a new strategy is adopted.
Twenty public institutes including the justice ministry, the foreign ministry, the interior ministry, diplomats and non-governmental groups spent two years working on the strategy.
The European Union and other international institutions recommended Romania as an EU member adopt the strategy “following an exponential growth of anti-Semitism, xenophobia… hate speech” during the pandemic.
Funding will come from the state budget, EU funds, and other sources. Romania is the latest EU country to adopt such a strategy after Germany, Austria, France.
The strategy aims to protect groups that are vulnerable to anti-Semitism and hate speech. There will be training program about how to combat hate speech and promote tolerance, civic education.
There will also be annual surveys and sociological research on the Holocaust, a history of communism and minorities and also assessments of how these subjects are being taught in schools.
There is widespread ignorance about the Holocaust in Romania. It is taught as an optional subject in schools, and many are unaware about Romania’s role in the Nazi mass extermination of Jews, Roma and others.
The Elie Wiesel International Committee for the Study of the Holocaust published a report in 2004 saying that Romanian authorities were responsible for the deaths of 280,000 to 380,000 Jews and 11,000 Roma from 1940 to 1944.
The Michael the Brave National Academy will offer educational program about how the Roma suffered during the Holocaust, the journey from Sighetu-Marmatiei to Auschwitz and others.
The national strategy will include a recommendation to Romanian universities to have rules for „preventing and sanctioning anti-Semitic incidents” and for generally trying to eliminate xenophobia and hate speech.