Credit: Pedro Bacelar de Vasconcelos© Global Imagens (arquivo)
In line with the European Union's Strategy to combat antisemitism and promote Jewish life, presented by the European Commission in 2021, the Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs has just appointed Pedro Bacelar de Vasconcelos to the position of National Coordinator of the European Strategy to Combat Antisemitism and Promoting Jewish Life in Portugal.
In a statement, the Board of the Jewish Community of Oporto did not comment on the suitability of the appointee, but on the mission to be carried out: "Promoting Jewish life is promoting Jewish religion and culture, not just Jewish heritage and memorials. Combating antisemitism is combating the negative perception that exists in relation to the traditional Jew and his achievements, always associated with stereotypes and bad feelings. Such a perception permeates the whole of society and enjoys fierce supporters on the political right, left and centre."
On Jan. 27, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made some remarks at the annual U.N. International Holocaust Remembrance at Park East Synagogue, stating that "is a source of great honor that Lisbon will soon have a new museum dedicated to Portugal’s long and rich Jewish history — the Tikva Museum."
Two days later, Gabriel Senderowicz, the President of the Oporto Jewish Community sent him an open letter saying that "if Guterres wanted to see the return of Jewish life, traditional Jewish religion and Jewish culture to his country, he would have spoken about the growth of the Portuguese Jewish community in recent years. There is the largest Chabad Center in Europe (in Cascais), the synagogues of Oporto, the Oporto Holocaust Museum, the Oporto Jewish Museum, the most awarded Portuguese film ever — which is about the Inquisition in Oporto — Oporto’s restaurants, hotels and achdut centers and even Oporto’s new Jewish cemetery. Guterres, however, did not speak of Jewish life but of death, of the “Jewish heritage” in the future Jewish Museum of Lisbon that until today is nothing more than a drawing on paper."
Pedro Bacelar de Vasconcelos was born in Oporto, on 4th December 1951. He is a dedicated member of the Socialist Party and emeritus professor of Public Law at the Law School of the University of Minho.