Was the OSCE’s (ODIHR) ‘High Level Meeting on Confronting Antisemitism’ another East European Whitewash?



The OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) today released its report on the ‘OSCE High Level Meeting on Confronting Antisemitism in Public Discourse’ that was held in Prague on 23 and 24 March 2011 under the auspices of its ODIHR department (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights). The full report is available here (alternate link here).

Upon Lithuania’s accession to the OSCE chairmanship this year, under the rotational system, there was widespread fear among regional Jewish communities and Holocaust Survivor organizations that instead of simply ignoring antisemitism and Holocaust issues, the Lithuanian government would again attempt to cover up its campaigns for Double Genocide in the European parliament and toleration of massive antisemitism at home with international spectacles featuring insincere platitudes and the wheeling out of one or another nationalist Jewish politicians with track records of convincing westerners of ‘progress being made’.

In Lithuania things have gone so far that the prime minister’s official advisor on Jewish issues, one of a handful of right-wing ‘government Jews’ (‘court Jews’), has published attacks on the country’s Jewish community in the spirit of the prevailing antisemitic discourse.

Unfortunately, once again, the officials of the very governments which are disseminating a new and dangerous strain of East European antisemitism were the ones invited to report and give speeches on these countries. Observers reported that quite naturally they used the opportunity for abstract discourses on the evils of antisemitism without even mentioning the actual problems in their countries. This was most striking in the case of Lithuania.

A deputy foreign minister of Lithuania spoke about the dangers of antisemitism without including in her report one word about the foreign minister’s still-unretracted antisemitic outburst last November, which drew a courageous reaction from the Jewish Community of Lithuania, none of whom was invited to join in the discussion. There was present, as usual, the one Jewish-origin parliamentarian who had actually resigned from the Jewish Community back in 1997. He is himself a signatory to the Prague Declaration, which leading scholars consider itself to be deeply rooted in contemporary East European antisemitism. The declaration has drawn anguished opposition from the Holocaust Survivor community.

Nor did the deputy foreign minister have a word to say about the court’s ruling legalizing public swastikas in 2010, the annual neo-Nazi marches (with permits!) which in 2011 included a member of parliament and an official of the state-sponsored Genocide Research Center, or the continued absence of the word (and concept) ‘Holocaust’  from the state-sponsored Genocide Museum on the capital’s main boulevard.

As ever the Lithuanian delegation included the non-Yiddish-speaking director of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute who has purged Europe’s one university Yiddish institute of its Yiddish Studies academic staff who spoke out against the continuing campaign of defamation against Holocaust Survivors who are heroes of the free world for having joined the anti-Nazi partisans after escaping the Vilna Ghetto. The Yiddish institute director, who passed himself off as a Yiddish Studies professor to the Economist back in February, referred at the time to the opinions of the surviving Jewish community as one of two ‘Talibans’. The ‘Taliban Diplomat’, as he is known in parts of the diplomatic community, was recently appointed ‘Dean of the School of Diplomacy’ at Kaunas’s Vytautas Magnus University. As one put it, ‘If this is diplomacy. . .’

Will the OSCE continue to throw money at the efforts of antisemitic establishments in Eastern Europe to cover for current events by invitations to repeat platitutes and shirk each and every one of the outstanding issues?

And will it continue to sponsor events that exclude those who have actually been combating antisemitism ‘in real life’? The bold Lithuanian citizens who sign petitions against neo-Nazi marches do not get invited to OSCE-ODIHR events. Nor do any of the courageous principled journalists and citizens who have courageously spoken out against antisemitism in Lithuania.  That distinction is reserved for those who would cover up such outrages and the government’s role in condoning or inspiring them with sacharine speeches about the general importance of combating general antisemitism in some general universe.

See this journal’s Dictionary for an introduction to the Orwellian discourse with which various East European government have been able to manipulate debates for the ‘benefit’ of naive Westerners.

Earlier this month, the three-year mark was reached in Lithuanian prosecutors’ campaigns of defamation against two women Holocaust survivors who have been repeatedly called war criminals in the media. Prosecutors have still not corrected their 2008 public statement that the women could not be found (!). In December 2010, the Lithuanian Human Rights [!] Association released a statement calling for their ‘sentencing’. Was this antisemitic discourse addressed at the OSCE ODIHR ‘High Level Meeting’ in March?

2011 marks a highpoint in East European government-level Holocaust policy duplicity. The year was declared a year of commemoration for the Holocaust’s victims and also a year commemorating the ‘defense of freedom’ including state-sponsored events to honor the LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front) murderers who unleashed barbarity against the country’s Jewish communities before the Nazis even arived. At one point the parliament’s English language website mentioned only the ‘Holocaust year’ while the Lithuanian language page mentioned only the ‘Defense of Freedom’ year (details here, here and here).

This is all in addition to the failure of the police to bring to trial a single suspect in an increasing array of antisemitic outrages, including the hoisting of Hitler’s flag over Vilnius for many hours and the posting of a ‘Hitler was right’ sign at the Kaunas synagogue (see page 1).

Why did nothing of this, and much more, merit mention in the OSCE ODIHR report?

 




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