News Releases 2011

"Malmo: A case-study of chronic antisemitism in public discourse, in micro, carries lessons for the OSCE region."

Prague, 24 March,

Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Director for International Relations and its Permanent Delegate to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) appealed to the 56 state body today to urge Swedish measures against rampant antisemitism in the southern city of Malmo.

"Your Import of Foreign Conflicts into Malmo Political Discourse has exacerbated Inter-Community Tensions and the Potential Risks, in particular, to your Jewish Citizens."

Stockholm, 16 March,

In a letter summarizing its Malmo meeting with Mayor Ilmar Reepalu, the Wiesenthal Centre expressed disappointment at "his obfuscation of responsibility in regard to his Jewish citizens, passing the fault for any public apprehension - including those we heard among Muslim and Roma leaders in his city - onto "Stockholm", "the police", etc."

" The Macedonian people - like the Jewish people almost fifty years earlier - has reentered geography and history, and its own sovereign identity deserves to be acknowledged accordingly...The lessons of the Holocaust in your country must serve as en early warning system to those of your neighbors where antisemitism and Holocaust denial are resurgent"

Skopje, 9 March

Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr.Shimon Samuels, addressed the ceremony organized by the Government, Holocaust Foundation and Jewish community of Macedonia, to mark the 68th anniversary of the deportation to Treblinka of over 7,000 - of which one third were children - where all perished. The ceremony launched an impressive Holocaust Centre and Museum,built in Skopje, with Government restitution of assets looted by Bulgarian Axis occupants from the murdered Jews.

Samuels presentation follows: 

"Excellency Mr.President of the Macedonian Republic, Excellency Mr.Prime Minister and Ministers, officials of the Macedonian Jewish Community, religious leaders, diplomatic representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for this invitation to address you, as Director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre - an international Jewish human rights organization of over 400,000 members, based in Los Angeles.  

We carry the name of our mentor, Simon Wiesenthal, who brought to justice over 1,100 Nazi war criminals.

Today, we draw the lessons of the Holocaust to the analysis of contemporary prejudice and hold consultative status at the United Nations, UNESCO, Council of Europe, OSCE and the Organization of American States.

My first association with Macedonia were the heroic tales of Alexander the Great of Mokdon. The Talmud recalls his disputation with the Jerusalem Temple High Priest, Shimon HaTsadik. Alexander rejected the Samarian's demand to exterminate the Jews for refusing to place his effigy in the Temple. For centuries, thereafter, Alexander was the most popular name in Jewish communities around the Mediterranean basin.

My second tie with this country was as a student, returning to my native London for the summer holidays from my studies in Jerusalem. It was 26 July 1963. We had left Skopje station and were approximatively 30 kilometers away, when the earthquake struck this city, with the tragic loss of over 1 500 and thousands wounded. May that experience never recur.

My third recollection was on learning of an almost hidden chapter of the Holocaust : the fate of the Jews of Macedonia and Thrace. Of an ancient community with 7 000 deported, less than 150 survived in hiding or as partisans - the highest victim percentage,exceeding even the 95% murder rate of Lithuania.

My fourth link was elation at the "European spring",which included the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. Though pre-Communist national conflicts resurfaced, it seemed that "the new-old Europe" would emerge to contribute to the consolidation of European democracy and security. 

The Macedonian people - like the Jewish people almost fifty years earlier - had reentered geography and history, and its own sovereign identity deserves to be acknowledged accordingly. 

The lessons of the Holocaust in your country must serve as en early warning system to those of your neighbors, where antisemitism and Holocaust denial are resurgent. 

For that reason, we urge the Macedonian Government to request membership of the International Taskforce on Holocaust Education and Commemoration. We propose that you call for papers from around the world on the Shoah in the Balkans, to be presented at a conference here in Skopje at your excruciatingly beautiful new Holocaust Memorial Centre,perhaps on the 70th anniversary of the deportation in 2013.

As a bulwark of the West, Macedonia must assume its natural place in NATO. Moreover, the sun in the centre of your national flag should soon shine brightly among the stars of the European Union, to which you are a candidate for the next round of enlargement.There you will contribute from the wisdom and wealth of your national heritage. 

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre looks forward to cooperating with Macedonia and its Jewish community. 

Thank you for inviting us to this auspicious gathering." 

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is an international Jewish human rights organization with a worldwide membership of 440,000. Established in 1977, with headquarters in Los Angeles, it draws the lessons of the Holocaust to the analysis of contemporary issues of prejudice and discrimination. The Centre is an NGO in consultative status to the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Organization of American States and the Council of Europe.

For further information, please contact Dr Shimon Samuels at +33.609.7701.58

Wiesenthal Centre Laments Antisemitic Incitement at Casablanca Book Fair

Paris, 3 March 2011

In a letter to Frankfurt Book Fair Director, Juergen Boos, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, exposed publishers promoting incitement at the SIEL 2011 (Salon International du Livre et de l'Edition) in Casablanca, Morocco.

"Music Must Serve to Contain Hate, Not to Reward It!"

Paris, 14 February 2011

In a letter to the International Music Council (IMC) President, Prof,Frans de Ruiter, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, urged him "to vigourously condemn Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis, for his obsessive anti-Jewish hatemongering and to strip him of his 2005 IMC-UNESCO International Music Prize".

Samuels explained that:- "Last week, Theodorakis reportedly announced on Greek television that he is 'indeed an antisemite...everything that happens in the world today has to do with the Zionists...American Jews are behind the world economic crisis that has hit Greece also'". 

- "Only yesterday, he amplified these positions in 'Mikis Theodorakis answers the usual circles accusing him of antisemitism', 
<http://www.mikis-theodorakis-kinisi-anexartiton-politon.gr/el/mikistheodorakis/?nid=445

'It is a paradox of history that the principal victims of Hitlerism now faithfully imitate the methods employed by the latter for global predominance'. As a composer, he presents himself as a victim, since 'Zionists control 99% of global musical life'". 

- "This hatred could already be foreseen in his 2005 statement that 'Jews are the root of all evil'". 

The letter suggested that "such language which should have sufficed to disqualify his candidacy for the prize. It is interesting that both the IMC and UNESCO decided that the 2005 laureate would be the last". 

The Centre argued that "Theodorakis offends all Jews, now including the identity of many of his predecessor awardees, such as Leonard Bernstein, Daniel Barenboim, Banny Goodman, Gidon Kremer, Yahudi Menuhin". 

The letter stressed that "he has also violated the IMC's mission statement, which 'promotes musical diversity, access to culture for all and assists...in building peace and understanding among peoples of all cultures and heritage'". 

Samuels insisted that, "when racists or bigots - of whatever form or stripe - proudly step out of the closet to announce: 'I am indeed, an Islamophobe/anti-Gay/Gypsophobe or Antisemite, they must be scorned and marginalized. They can no longer serve as icons for their peers or for the younger generation'". 

"Mr.President, strip Theodorakis, a self-proclaimed racist, of the prestigious International Music Council-UNESCO Prize. Music must serve as a vehicle to contain incitement, not to reward it", concluded Samuels. 

The letter was shared with European Music Council Chairman, Timo Klemettinen of Germany < timo.klemettinen@musiccouncil.fi > 
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is an international Jewish human rights organization with a worldwide membership of 440,000. Established in 1977, with headquarters in Los Angeles, it draws the lessons of the Holocaust to the analysis of contemporary issues of prejudice and discrimination. The Centre is an NGO in consultative status to the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Organization of American States and the Council of Europe.

For further information, please contact Dr Shimon Samuels at +33.609.7701.58