Taipei, Taiwan – The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday apologized for posting a photograph showing students wearing Nazi uniforms during a MND-organized summer camp on its official website, a move that angered local Israelis.
In an emergency press conference held in the ministry yesterday afternoon, military spokesman Lo Shao-ho made an official apology over the incident to the public.
Lo said he had contacted the three students in question, and they all expressed regret for wearing the Nazi uniforms while attending the summer camp held on Monday at Army Armor School in Hsinchu County.
“They said they wore the uniforms for fun as they are all military fans,” said Lo, adding that they didn’t mean to offend anyone and that they are sorry for causing the stir.
He also added that the ministry will ask its press officers to be more careful in the future when choosing photographs.
Lo made the comment after a local Chinese-language United Evening News ran a story yesterday accusing that the MND-posted photo nearly caused political row between Taiwan and Israel.
According to the report, the military personnel responsible for receiving these students for the summer camp not only did not ask them to take off their uniforms, they even took a photograph with them and later posted it at the official site of the Military News Agency.
The photograph was pulled off the site after the controversy broke out.
When asked to comment on the incident, Simona Halperin, director of the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, the de facto Israeli representative in Taiwan as both sides lack official ties, said she was shocked and sad to see the photograph, the report said.
She said the MND’s move only shows it’s ignorant of the sensitivity of the issue. She hopes it does not represent that the ministry’s support of the Nazi massacre of Jews, the report said.
Halperin continued to point out that the controversy also shows that Taiwan should teach their students at the secondary education level about such issues so they may better understand their significance.