EU Parliament Holocaust Event Remembers Roma Victims for 1st Time Ever

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The main ceremony, held on Wednesday afternoon, was preceded by the launch of a new exhibition about the Roma and Sinti victims of the Nazis.

For the first time ever, the European Parliament’s annual event to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day marked both the Holocaust of six million Jews and the genocide of Roma and Sinti populations at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators.

The main ceremony, held on Wednesday afternoon, was preceded by the launch of a new exhibition about the Roma and Sinti victims of the Nazis.

“The meaning of this exhibition is  to give visibility to the Roma Holocaust and that’s what we want want to achieve – more knowledge about the Roma Holocaust,” Soraya Post, MEP, Rapporteur on Roma fundamental rights told The Jerusalem Post.

She said the joint commemoration gives an important message to mainstream society: “that all victims suffered the same thing by the same perpetrators during the same era.”

“We should be concerned by what we see in Europe today,” Post told the audience. “We cannot accept neo-Nazis marching in the streets. Please join us in this fight,” said Post, whose father was Jewish and mother Roma.

At the formal ceremony that followed the opening of the exhibition,  European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor noted that discrimination against Jews, Roma, Homosexuals, the disabled and political dissidents, all of whom were targeted by the Nazis, is not a thing of the past.

Both Kantor and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who also spoke at the event, made note of antisemitic incidents that occurred in Europe in the past year.

“Because of the constant threat, synagogues and Jewish community centers in many European countries have been put under massive 24-hour police protection,” Kantorsaid. “Less than a month ago, synagogues in Malmo and Gothenburg were firebombed because of the absurd belief that European Jews are to be blamed for a diplomatic statement from a leader, thousands of miles away, describing the self-evident truth that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Attacks on Jewish individuals and institutions cannot be justified and are unacceptable in any context.”

Stressing that European Union must put more measures in place to fight antisemitism, he concluded that “the lessons of the Shoa should have a strong and decisive follow up.”

For his part, Edelstein delivered a similar message to the one he had conveyed to the Belgian parliament the day before: that for all the good work that had been done to commemorate the Holocaust, much is left to be done.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Let me draw your attention to the following events that took place in a single year: The Jews in Bochum, Germany felt compelled to hide their identities for fear of attack. In Gothenburg, Sweden, a synagogue was firebombed. In Vienna, London, and Berlin, rallies called for death to the Jews. This was not in 1933. These were headlines from the last year – 2017,” Edelstein emphasized “Seven years ago, I stood here and asked, “What have we learned? Today,  following these 2017 events, I ask you once again, “What have we learned?”