PRESS RELEASE - Jerusalem, February 28, 2000 -
Israeli Education Minister Yossi Sarid has written to dozens of his
European counterparts in an attempt to use education to prevent the
spread of neo-Nazism and fascism in Europe.
Sarid's initiative is a direct result of the inclusion
of six members of Joerg Haider's extreme right-wing party in the
newly formed Austrian government, after it recently received 27 per cent
of the vote in the national elections.
In his letter, Sarid called upon his European colleagues
to join hands in a spirit of partnership and responsibility to combat
the forces of racism, discrimination, intolerance and hatred in the
continent. The Minister also pledged to offer pedagogic assistance
to European nations, including lecturers and study materials.
The following are excerpts from Minister Sarid's letter
to his European counterparts:
The purpose of this letter is to address the new phenomenon of
Joerg Haider and his "Freedom Party" in Austria, with their
neo-fascist/neo-Nazi and xenophobic character. This development is
extremely worrisome, and threatens not only minorities and the
democratic nature of Austria, but Europe as a whole.
The fact that Austrian voters did not reject these extreme right-wing
elements has posed a difficult dilemma for Israel and the European
The questions now are:
How can we join together and combat Haider's dangerous phenomenon and
stop it in its tracks?
How can we implement the lessons of the Holocaust and World War II, in
which so many scores of millions of innocents were murdered by the Nazis
or killed in battle, all because of a blind hatred which destroyed so
much of Europe?
I call upon you, in response to the rise of Haider, to
step up your Holocaust awareness education, as well as your programs
teaching the dangers of fascism and intolerance. This time, let us
cooperate to stop the spread of hatred and racism in Europe, before it
is allowed to poison the minds of our precious youth and future
Rest assured that in my capacity as Israeli Minister of
Education, we shall supply whatever assistance we can. The Yad
Vashem institute in Jerusalem is well equipped to serve as a basis for
information on the rise of Nazism and the inherent dangers of fascism
and intolerance. My Ministry will also be ready to supply know-how,
lecturers and material to any country requiring it.
My colleagues, let us set the agenda here, and not
Haider and his Freedom Party. Together we can work to ensure that
democracy and freedom prevail, and not the forces of hatred and bigotry.
This is our challenge. Let's meet this challenge and make Europe, and
the world, free of divisiveness, prejudice, and future Haiders.
Israeli Ministrer of Education
For more information, contact
Israeli Ministry of Education
Office of the Spokeswoman
haGalil onLine 29-02-2000