AJC Praises Obama Visit to Stockholm Great Synagogue

Sep 04, 2013, 15:26 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Sept. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC praised President Obama for visiting the Great Synagogue of Stockholm today during a stopover in Sweden. The President delivered a heartfelt speech, celebrating Rosh Hashanah and recalling the courageous legacy of Raoul Wallenberg. He demonstrated deep solidarity with Sweden's Jewish community, as well as with the Wallenberg family, who still seek definitive answers to his mysterious disappearance, at the hands of the Soviets, 68 years ago.

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"President Obama's visit to Stockholm's Great Synagogue was an important act of solidarity with a Jewish community that has faced challenges, including a few acts of violence, in recent years," said AJC Executive Director David Harris.

"We will stand against anti-Semitism and hatred, in all its forms," President Obama declared in his Great Synagogue speech today. "And we will choose to instill in the hearts of our own children the love and tolerance and compassion that we seek."

AJC also praised Obama for his remarks on Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat, who during World War II entered Nazi-occupied Hungary and issued false passports to save tens of thousands of Jews from almost certain death. Wallenberg was at the time employed by the U.S. War Refugee Board, which initiated the rescue effort.

Through a joint effort of Hungarian-born Congressman Tom Lantos and his wife, Annette, and AJC, Wallenberg was granted honorary U.S. citizenship in 1981. Obama pointed out that Wallenberg "is one of only a few individuals ever granted honorary U.S. citizenship."

AJC, cited by the late Cong. Lantos as the first Jewish group to advocate on behalf of Wallenberg, has long called on the U.S. government to step up efforts to solve the mystery of what happened after his arrest in January 1945, by Soviet security services, and subsequent disappearance.

In 2000, on the 55th anniversary of his disappearance, AJC issued a publication, The Wallenberg Mystery: Fifty-five Years Later, by Dr. William Korey, that detailed Wallenberg's heroic efforts to save Jews, his relationship with the U.S. government, and the current state of knowledge about his disappearance into the Soviet gulag. A year later, AJC published another report by Dr. Korey with updated information, The Last Word on Wallenberg? New Investigations, New Questions.

"We encourage President Obama to press again for a full opening of all archives, so that investigators once and for all can solve the tragic mystery of what actually happened to Raoul Wallenberg – and why," said Harris.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee