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Government pledges to fight anti-Semitism

Samuel Schmid stands behind Kofi Annan at the ceremony in Jerusalem Keystone

The Swiss president, Samuel Schmid, says the government is committed to fighting anti-Semitism, a day after a synagogue was set on fire in Lugano.

This content was published on March 15, 2005 - 19:34

Schmid spoke during a visit to Jerusalem, where he attended Tuesday’s inauguration of a new museum at Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem.

Schmid said all of Switzerland was in shock over Monday’s attack, which was the first time in living memory that a Jewish house of worship in Switzerland had been set alight.

"The government supports the investigation in order to prevent such attacks in future and to combat anti-Semitism in general," the president said.

"We must never be allowed to forget what happened," Schmid said, adding that that was why it was so important to renew the memorial to Holocaust victims.

Schmid was one of around 40 government leaders and dignitaries, including the United Nations secretary-general, Kofi Annan, to attend the opening of the Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem.

Holocaust

Funded by Israel and the Jewish community abroad, the $56 million (SFr49 million) project seeks to portray the Holocaust on a more personal level through displays of the artefacts, diaries and photographs of victims and Nazi persecutors.

Schmid, who is also defence minister, used his visit to confirm reports that the government intends - as soon as it receives the go-ahead from parliament - to lift restrictions it placed on arms deals with Israel three years ago.

Parliament introduced the measure after the Jewish state re-occupied Palestinian villages in 2002.

Last month the defence ministry expressed interest in purchasing telecommunications equipment from Israel valued at SFr150 million.

Schmid said he hoped to complete the transaction next year.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

During a visit to Israel, the Swiss president, Samuel Schmid, said the government would fight anti-Semitism.

He was attending the opening of a new Holocaust museum.

His comments came a day after a synagogue was set on fire in Lugano.

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