1 September 2023
On Monday, Israel’s ambassador to Romania, Reuven Azar, met with George Simeon, leader of the fringe Alliance of the Union of Romanians party. AUR has been criticized previously for its statements minimizing the Holocaust. Also attending the meeting was Yossi Dagan, the chairman of the Samaria Regional Council.
AUR ideology represents a fusion of Romanian nationalism, conservative Christian identity, and populism. It seeks the absorption of Moldova, a Romanian neighbor, and the advancement of the interests of Romanian minorities in other European countries, while favoring the suppression of ethnic minorities, particularly ethnic Hungarians, within Romania. Last year, after Holocaust studies were introduced into public education, the AUR issued a statement calling the Holocaust “a minor topic.” The immediate previous AUR party leader, Claudiu Tarziu, has expressed admiration for the 1930s Romanian nationalist, Corneliu Codreanu, and the Iron Guard, both militantly antisemitic and pro-Nazi.
Azar said he agreed to meet with Simeon on the condition that Simeon admit to Romanian state responsibility for the murder of Romanian Jews during the Holocaust and agree to support Holocaust education. Simeon issued a statement touching on those matters but not agreeing to the conditions explicitly.
Simeon has spoken appreciatively of the illiberal ruling parties of Hungary and Poland. What seems to unite the current Israeli administration with AUR is a common ideological approach involving territorially ambitious religiously infused ethnic chauvinism. That union is bought by closing eyes to the cost to the Jewish People of precisely that kind of fusion in the past. Strange bedfellows but bedfellows indeed. The AUR and the current Israeli administration also seem to be bound by a common view regarding political control of courts and the suppression of civil society. That is a conflict far more explosive in Israel only because the far right has government power in Israel while the AUR remains a small minority party in Romania.