A triple anniversary – and a wonderful celebration:  Firstly – Romania’s national day Secondly – 100 years of the reunification of Romania And finally – 70 years of full diplomatic relations between Romania and Israel. Yes, Romania was one of the first countries of the world to recognize the re-establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

It was a gala event, including a concert in the Recanati Hall at Tel Aviv’s Museum of Art, and a lavish cocktail reception after the concert in Museum’s Riklis Foyer. Guests gathered in the auditorium and included Diana Toma, General Manager for Tarom in Israel; Ambassador Dr. Rodika Radian-Gordon; Superintendent Moti Meiry of  the Israel Police; Yoni Zilberman, former representative of the Israel Police; Shasha Grimberg; Natan Rotenberg, Director International Relations Public Security M.O.P.S.; a large representation of diplomats serving in Israel; and many VIPs and members of Israel’s Romanian Community. The evening opened with renditions of the Romanian national anthem and then the anthem of Israel, both performed by the Jerusalem Academy of Music graduate, Monica Schwartz.

The opening address by Mircea Chitic, Charge d’affaires, speaking in place of Mr. Ovidiu Ierulescu who was unable to attend, stressed the fine diplomatic relations between the two states. Mr. Chitic noted that the link “ … between Romania and the State of Israel is based on common values and shared goals, … a bond that is continuously extending and developing to the benefit of our countries and peoples”. He spoke of the multiple official contacts at all levels, the special ties and the bilateral economic cooperation before mentioning “Romania's Presidency to the EU Council will be an occasion to highlight our country's attachment to European projects, especially among younger generations, by taking on the role of an honest broker in advancing the negotiations within the EU processes.” He was particularly proud of the sound contribution of the community of Israelis originating from Romania in bringing the two countries together. “They continue to be attached to the Romanian cultural values and serve as a human bridge between our countries to get young Israeli generations closer to the Romanian heritage of traditions. Their contribution to the strengthening of the State of Israel is a reason of pride for Romania. One might just remember the citizens of Moineşti – Bacău who founded the first settlements in Zichron Yaakov and Rosh Pina.”

Mr. Chitic did not fail to mention that: “Romania’s Chairmanship to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance reflected our strong commitment to the commemoration of the Holocaust victims and the fight against anti-Semitism and xenophobia. At a national level, the political commitment in the fight against anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination is supported by the legal framework. Our genuine efforts for raising awareness about these aspects are completed by Romania’s strong interest in deepening the cooperation in the field of education, including the history of the Holocaust. Our Government took the initiative to open a National Museum of Jewish History and the Holocaust in Romania, for which the Bucharest City Hall has allocated a beautiful historic building in the downtown area, in the most touristic part of the city. We will continue to rely on the support of the State of Israel and the Yad Vashem Institute in completing this objective.”

He ended by thanking the guests and by extending his good wishes for a joyful Hanukkah celebration.

 

M.K. Gilad Erdan responded on behalf of the State of Israel. His opening remarks included Israel’s appreciation of: “When the Iron Curtain and Arab oil cut off Israel from the Eastern Bloc, Romania bravely stood up to the pressure and maintained an open channel with Israel.” He told of his own family’s Romanian roots and that Jews of Romanian descent have played key roles in every aspect of Israeli life, from culture to business to diplomacy to the military. The economic, security and hi-tech links are as important as Israel’s agriculture and water technologies.

Mr. Erdan mentioned tourism too: “Tourism between Romania and Israel continues to grow at an unprecedented rate – 300,000 Israeli tourists travel to Romania each year, and a new record of 80,000 Romanian tourists came here. The 60 direct flights per week are a testimony of the close relations between our peoples.” He also spoke warmly of Romanian Holocaust activities: “We recognize the important steps that Romania is taking to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and the mass murder of Romanian Jews, including my grandfather's first wife and seven children.  It's crucial that this process continues and that Romanians learn about the Holocaust. Only by studying the horrors of the past

can we work to ensure that they never repeat themselves in the future.”

“Today we count Romania as one of our closest friends in the European Union. We look forward to the upcoming Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. No Doubt that these are challenging times for the EU, but I'm confident that Romania will help steer the EU to a period of greater stability and growth.  We count on Romania in helping to ensure that Israel is treated fairly by the EU and that all attempts to single out Israel for discrimination are countered.”

Minister Erdan praised Romania’s steps toward moving its Embassy to Jerusalem. “I've no doubt that if Romania was to take the brave and moral stance of moving its embassy to Jerusalem, numerous other countries would follow Romania's lead.”

He ended by extending best wishes to the people of Romania on the occasion of the country’s National Day.

 

 

The concert, under the auspices of the Romanian Cultural Institute, featured masters of Romanian music: pianist Ilinca Dumitrescu and bassoonist Vasile Macovei.

After a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony by Rabbi Elhanan Guttmann, guests were invited to enjoy the buffet reception in the museum foyer. Israeli and Romanian delicacies, accompanied by beverages that included wines and liqueurs from the host country, were a fitting end to a wonderful evening.

The directors and staff of www.diplomacy.co.il join in congratulating the people of Romania on these auspicious anniversaries.

 

Jonathan Danilowitz  Journalist, translator, editor.

Photos by Silvia G. Golan