New report: Antisemitic discourse and hate speech online and in media against Jewish community members remain a problem in Moldova
The Monument to the Victims of Jewish Ghetto in Chisinau, capital of Moldova.
‘’Online publications about the community’s activities received hateful and insulting comments. Vandalism of Jewish sites and memorials also remains a problem,’’ the report, added, citing the local Jewish community.
The report was commissioned by the Action & Protection League (APL), Europe’s leading organization for combating antisemitism. APL, which has office in Brussels, was founded to explore the causes of modern-day antisemitism and to implement effective defense.
Together with the European Jewish Association (EJA), a group representing hundreds of Jewish communities in Europe, which is engaged across Europe in the fight against antisemitism and safeguarding freedom of religion for Jews across the continent.
APL is working with senior research fellow and director at the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in London, Dr Daniel Staetsky, to develop a country index of criteria that measure how well and how far governments are progressing in fostering Jewish life, minimizing antisemitism, and allowing communities to flourish, develop and grow. This index allows the two organizations to measure the quality of life for Jews in any country in Europe.
The initial index covered 12 countries, primarily in Western Europe. This year , it is broadening the scope to more countries, including Moldova.Advertisement
According to the report, at the end of the 19th century, 230,000 Jews made up 12% of the total population of then Bessarabia and more than 50% in some cities. This was also the period of the pogroms. In WWII, most of the Jewish population perished.
After the war, 12 synagogues were preserved on the territory of Bessarabia (the country’s former name). By 1955, 10 of them had been closed. The first post-war census in 1959 indicated that 96,000 Jews lived in the Moldovan Soviet Republic. Today’s Jewish community numbers between 4,000 and 20,000 people.
‘’The legal environment is characterized by recognition and respect for Judaism as one of the religious groups historically present in the region. Several laws already exist, but there is a lot to be done,’’ the report noted.
‘’Action plans and government programs also exist regarding the memory of the Holocaust, such as an optional teaching material entitled “Holocaust: History and Life Lessons” for schools in development for pupils interested in the subject. Several monuments have also been erected for the public commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust.’’
However, according to Jewish community officials quoted in the report, the issue of respect for the rights of ethnic minorities, including Jews in Moldova, ‘’is frozen at a certain level.Still, it is always topical, and if the authorities want the Moldovan state to be truly peaceful, multi-ethnic, with equal rights, these issues require in-depth study.’’
Present day Republic of Moldova (which is an independent parliamentary democracy since 1991) is characterized by sporadic acts of property damage (mostly vandalism and graffiti) and somewhat regular acts of hate speech of an antisemitic nature in the public sphere and on social media.
‘’Manifestations of antisemitism regularly break out in the country, and cases of vandalism of Jewish cemeteries remain frequent,’’ the report said.
‘’Because one prominent and controversial Moldovan politician is Jewish (Mr. Ilan Șor), the Jewish community has been concerned about the increased possibility of antisemitic attacks in the last seven years..Vandalism of Jewish sites and memorials also remains a problem.’’
The status of Jewish property claims still needs to be resolved. ‘’There is some legislation, but there is a lot of work to be done,’’ according to the report.
‘’The government has not enacted comprehensive restitution legislation for communal or private property confiscated during the Holocaust nor arranged for proper financial compensation to the Jewish community. Moldova has not passed legislation to return communal property, and the government has not restituted or provided compensation for any Jewish communal properties,’’ claims the report.
Regarding the country’s diplomatic attitude towards the State of Israel, the report noted a friendly climate with several positive developments.
Following the publication of this study, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Chairman of the European Jewish Association, wrote a letter to Moldova’s Prime Minister Dorin Recean, asking him where his country stands on the following index criteria:
• The existence of government budget for security equipment in Jewish communities
• The existence of government budget to support Jewish culture, education and synagogues
• The adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism
• Policies around holocaust memorialization – including in schools
• The existence of a national coordinator for combatting antisemitism and fostering Jewish life
• The existence of official statistics on antisemitic incidents
• Laws that preserve Jewish Freedom of Religion such as circumcision or kosher slaughter
• A ban on the trade of Nazi memorabilia.
He has not yet responded to the letter.
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