Thinking about Anti-Tziganizm and Anti-Semitism in today’s Romania
Reaction on a comment on: Romanian Journalist physically attacked - JIDAN (KIKE)
Dear Mr. Novoselsky
Thank you for your opinion. I would like to draw your attention to the following:
Today, in Romania, are millions of Romanian Roma citizens. At the same less than 3500 are living in Romania. The Jewish community is virtually almost gone. I have no doubts that if in Romania we would have tens of thousands of Jews, active and participating in the day by day life, the anti-Semitism would be virulent and violent and not hard to detect as it is in the present situation when most of the Romanian Jews are hired by the Jewish communities, do not take active part in politics, social life and economy and are over 70 years of age.
When a Jew like me is taking public stands in issues related to anti-Semitism then hundreds and thousands of virulent anti-Semitic comments are invading the online media space. So if one person generates such hate, which sometimes frightens me, then what would happen if Jews would hold key positions within various structures in the state and private fields of activity?
This is why I refrain from making comparison between the levels of anti-Roma and anti-Semitism. I also refrain to include in this analysis the anti-Hungarian manifestation which are politically triggered. In any case the discrimination against all minorities, which is based on religious, ethnic, sexual preferences elements, if exists, should be addressed in parallel no matter what the number of the members of those communities is. I do not agree with your point of view saying that this or that discrimination “should be addressed first”.
I also believe that the discriminated communities have the duty to check within their own house the reasons for which they come to the attention of the society more than others. The members of the community have the duty to analyze and eliminate the wrong doing of their own members in order to minimize their exposure to discrimination and to retaliation. They should also be very careful not to discriminate against those who are discriminating them.
Combating any kind of discrimination is a complex activity. It is not about expressing revolt against it. It is not about victimizing and about complaining. It is about analyzing the world we live in, our own attitudes and reactions, reasons and motivations and about being able to take an objective look at all aspects and elements involved in such destructive situations. Best regards from Bucharest.
Maximillian Marco Katz
Founding Director of MCA Romania – The Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism in Romania ( since 2002)
Member of the Commission on Anti-Semitism, The European Jewish Parliament (EJP)
Founding Member of the Forum Against Anti-Semitism in Romania
Comment on: Romanian Journalist physically attacked - JIDAN (KIKE)
Dear Mr. Katz,
Of course, it is very important to know the results of investigation over incident when a Romanian journalist
Mircea Marian was verbally harassed and physically attacked by a hooligan anti-Semite in Bucharest.
But, in my opinion, there is no even need to ask on how deep the anti-Semitism is buried in todays Romanian
mentality and spirit. This is because in the athmosphere of centuries-old strong anti-Tziganizm even today
expressed in all spheres of life in Romania, the dislike of other minorities does not look surprising at all.
Todays anti-Jewish and anti-Hungarian sentiments are simply the weak shadows of much stronger notion
of Romanian anti-Tziganizm.
And here we can not even single out Romania, because all over Europe the impunity of anti-Tziganizm
creates the space for affirmation of other ethnic dislikes. And taken into account the fact that here
you do not have the problem of anti-Israeli "Intifada" like in France (where Jews are attacked and
insulted for simply being Jews), the situation with anti-Semitism does not look too critical.
Of course, this problem exists, but the traditional stigmatization of Roma community is much stronger and
is the first one to be addressed. This will help to solve the problem with the other xenophobic sentiments.
I personally appreciate my years-long familiarity and cooperation with Romanian Roma and pro-Roma
public activists and intellectuals. And I am sure that these people working in complexed social environment
are making the positive change for the sake of the whole Romanian society.
I also appreciate the cooperation with the organizations and charismatic individuals in Israel (the country where
I live since 1995) who combat various kinds of racism, whether they are directed against Arabs or Jews,
Russians or Sudaneese.
Hopefully, with such people we can make this world a bit more tolerant and better!
Mr. Valery Novoselsky,
Executive Editor, Roma Virtual Network.
Currently in Kiryat Shemona, Israel
Romanian Journalist physically attacked - JIDAN (KIKE)
By Maximillian Marco Katz
MCA Romania – The Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism in Romania (2002)
On May 17th, a Romanian journalist was verbally harassed and physically attacked. While walking the streets of Bucharest, in the middle of the day, Mircea Marian, a journalist with a national daily newspaper was pushed around by a man who called him “JIDAN” (KIKE).
According to the media, the incident took place while two policemen who were nearby stood and did not intervene. Only later on, other policemen took over the case which is now analyzed by the authorities.
The Romanian media published the case expressing its outrage generated by the fact that a journalist was attacked. Also some leading Romanian NGO’s highlighted the incident and asked the authorities to act swiftly for making sure that journalists will not be abused again.
The Prime Minister of Romania, Mr. Victor Ponta asked the authorities to investigate the case in depth. The authorities announced that a criminal investigation, for public assault, was opened against the aggressor.
However no one in Romania approached, directly or indirectly, the anti-Semitism behind the incident. Yes, the “JIDAN” expression was published but no one said/wrote a single word against it and about the need to take a firm stand against the aggressor because of his anti-Semitism. The only institution to point out the anti-Semitism and the need to take a firm stand against it was, as usual, MCA Romania-The Center for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism in Romania.
So once again, generally speaking, the anti-Semitism was swept under the carpet. Once again the media, the politicians missed the opportunity to show a change of mentality, some deeper understanding of the anti-Semitic phenomena that is affecting a society, virtually left without the Jewish minority (less than 3500 Jews live today in Romania).
In his interview published by the media, the attacked journalist did not speak about the anti-Semitism involved in the incident but he did mention the fact that he felt the need to defend himself by saying that he is a Christian Orthodox. However he felt that it was shameful to act so and he did not do it.
This kind of defense reminds of the times when many Jews changed their “Jewish” names to “Romanian” names in order to avoid exposure to social and political harassment and discrimination. It seems that motives that triggered that kind of self-preservation attitude are still present in Romania.
What that means? If a simple citizen, a Jew would be harassed on the street by the same aggressor, in the same manner as the journalist was, would the media write about it? Would then the Prime Minister ask for a firm investigation? We will find more about it when we will learn how the prosecutors will handle the case and when the ruling on this matter will be published. Then we might learn how deep the anti-Semitism is buried in the local mentality and spirit.