Friday, February 15, 2008


Sarkozy defends Holocaust proposal amid uproar (Reuters)
PARIS (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy, facing a tide of criticism over his call for schoolchildren to "adopt" Jewish child victims of the Holocaust, hit back on Friday saying France had to raise children "with open eyes".

In a speech praising faith that also drew fire from secularists, Sarkozy told France's Jewish community on Wednesday that every 10-year-old schoolchild should be "entrusted with the memory of a French child victim of the Holocaust".

The proposal unleashed a storm of protest from teachers, psychologists and his political foes who said it would unfairly burden children with the guilt of previous generations and some could be traumatized by identifying with a Holocaust victim.

More than 11,100 French Jewish children were deported from France to Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps in eastern Europe during the German World War Two occupation....

But Sarkozy, speaking in Perigueux in central France, brushed off the uproar.

"It is ignorance that produces abominable situations. It is not knowledge," he said in a speech. "Let us make our children, children with open eyes who are not complacent."

"Believe me, you will not traumatize children by giving them the gift of the memory of a country ... Any psychologist will tell you: you have to tell a child the truth," he said.

SEE ALSO: Sarkozy: jury on Durban still out (JTA)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said France would not participate in the second U.N. Durban conference on racism if it seemed a repeat of the 2001 anti-Semitic debacle.

"France will not allow a repetition of the excesses and abuses of 2001," Sarkozy told CRIF, the umbrella body of French Jewish groups, in an address this week.

He suggested that the European Union, which will be under France's presidency ahead of the 2009 conference, would follow France's lead.

"I say to you: if ever our legitimate demands are not taken into account, we will disengage from the process," he said. The United States this week issued a similar warning.

U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog that monitors how the international body deals with human rights abusers, said this week it had confirmed reports that South Africa plans to once again host the conference.

The 2001 Durban conference devolved into an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate-fest led by Iran and radical Muslim and Arab groups.

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