M e d i a W a t c h / O p i n i o n
Readers on several continents again report to Defending History that the Jerusalem Post has failed to post perfectly polite comments to yet another ecstatic ode to issueless Lithuanian-Jewish love. This time it’s the story “Growing Lithuanian Business Ties Beget Political Support” which reported on the recent visit to Israel of the Lithuanian Minister for the Economy Evaldas Gustas.
The rejected comments pointed out that a senior specialist employed at his ministry was exposed last spring as Lithuania’s most hateful internet blogger, responsible for a series of images disparaging to Jews, Blacks, Gays, and to the history of the Holocaust in Lithuania (sampling of images here). Our Open Letter to the minister essentially asks why the hateful top official is still in office. Is such a question taboo for a major English language daily in Israel?
Recently, the Jerusalem Post also turned down offers of respectful replies to its own editor-in-chief’s embarrassing gush on Lithuanian-Jewish matters following a junket here. The piece was entitled “A Litvak in Lithuania” demonstrating how very much abused the term “Litvak” has become. The weakness that results in facile abuse is itself a result of the annihilation of close to all the Litvaks in their native land during the Holocaust. It is quite easy for foreigners on state-manipulated trips to pass up the opportunity of speaking to a few everyday Jewish people here and making do with Europe’s Court Jew Brothers (one a parliamentarian, the only Jew in Europe who signed the Prague Declaration; the other the head of the state Jewish museum that sometimes obfuscates the Holocaust every bit as much as the far-right nationalist establishment). The eight very brave Lithuanian parliamentarians who signed the Seventy Years Declaration (SYD) seem not to be on the government-manipulated circuit of those whom “useful Jews” from abroad are encouraged to meet. Questions are circulating as to whether some Jews of South African origin, concerned with acquiring European Union citizenship, are being played disproportionately (see the 2012 Tel Aviv “gala saga” to shower honors on a foreign minister who had made antisemitic comments, derided his countrymen who signed the SYD, and went on in short order to defend the state’s honoring of a major 1941 Holocaust collaborator; see also: South Africa section).
Lithuanian-Jewish relations are growing and succeeding at many levels. That is splendid. One of the trends that threatens those relations is the ongoing campaign by elements of the Lithuanian government and elites to revise Holocaust era history and push under the rug the real questions that need discussion rather than obfuscation.
Among real friends, there is no problem in raising the questions of the day. The de facto (attempted) censorship of the very conversation by various foreign Jewish leaders is troubling. All the more so when one considers how many Lithuanians have spoken up here with quiet dignity and moral courage on Jewish issues, without rewards, honors and assorted trips. It was brave Lithuanian journalists who exposed the racist, antisemitic, homophobic campaign of a top employee at the Ministry for the Economy.
On Lithuanian-Jewish issues per se, this journal has proposed seven simple solutions.