'Despicable' Anti-Semitic Attack in Moldova Merits Strong Response by Government and Church
New York, NY, December 14, 2009 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged the government of Moldova and the leadership of the Orthodox Church to punish those responsible for uprooting a Hanukkah menorah on a main public square in Moldova's capital, Chisinau, and replacing it with an Orthodox cross.
A video shows an Orthodox priest, identified by the Moldovan media as Fr. Anatoliy Chirbik, leading a demonstration of about 100 people yesterday at Stefan the Great Square and saying, "We are an Orthodox country. Stephan the Great defended our country from all kinds of kikes, and now they come and put their menorah here. This is anarchy." The priest and demonstrators then uprooted the menorah and dumped it behind a statue of Moldovan national hero King Stefan the Great.
"The Moldovan government and the Orthodox Church must punish the perpetrators of this despicable anti-Semitic crime and send a clear signal to Moldovan society and to the Jewish community that the government and the church will not tolerate anti-Semitism," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.
In a letter to Nicolae Chirtoaca, Moldova's Ambassador to the United States, ADL called on his government "to apprehend and punish the perpetrators of this anti-Semitic crime." The League said it was particularly shocked at reports that 15 to 20 police officers were at the site during the protest, but did little to intervene.
ADL also expressed disappointment with the official statement from leaders of the Moldovan Orthodox Church, who called the attack "a sad event."
"The reported reaction of the Orthodox Church falls far short of a vigorous condemnation," Mr. Foxman said. "The church needs to make clear that this sort of behavior is unacceptable, and should take action to punish any church officials who were involved in organizing the demonstration, including Fr. Chirbik."
Moldova Justice Minister Alexandru Tenase was quoted by Moldova's Publik TV as saying the government would not tolerate the desecration of religious objects and "will apply the harshest penalties to discourage anyone attempting similar actions."
The Hanukkah menorah was erected by members of the local Jewish community. The menorah, which stands 5-feet tall, was reinstalled and is now under police protection.
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The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.