New York, NY, October 15, 2003 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed outrage at Portuguese Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago's offensive comments that the Jewish people no longer deserve "sympathy for the suffering they went through during the Holocaust." Saramago said Monday in Brazil that "living under the shadows of the Holocaust and expecting to be forgiven for anything they do on behalf of what they have suffered seems abusive to me. They didn't learn anything from the suffering of their parents and grandparents."
"Jose Saramago's comments are incendiary, deeply offensive, and show an ignorance of the issues that suggest a bias against the Jews," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Mr. Saramago's lack of empathy for the Jewish people, at a time when Jews in Israel are being massacred in their streets, cafes and buses, is an utter disgrace. It is shocking that 60 years after the Holocaust, there are people who not only dismiss the brutal murder of 6,000,000 Jews at the hands of the Nazis, but also ignore the murder of Jews at the hands of Palestinian terrorists today."
Mr. Saramago was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. In March 2002, while visiting Ramallah with a delegation of writers, he stated that the Israeli blockade of Ramallah is "in the spirit of Auschwitz," and "this place is being turned into a concentration camp." ADL condemned those remarks as "incendiary and the height of ignorance," adding that "Such comparisons between the Nazis' deliberate policy to murder the Jews of Europe are outrageous and diminish the nature of the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr. Saramago might have served a more constructive role had he urged Palestinians to reject their ongoing campaign of terrorism and recommit to peaceful negotiations with Israel."