The following is the text of the statement released today by the signatories enumerated below.
Welcome to Holocaust Halloween: The Political Obfuscation of the Holocaust in Lithuania by Lies, Masquerades, Tricks, and Treats
The Soviet occupation of Lithuania is a painful part of its history.
The mass murder of approximately 95% of Lithuania’s Jewish population (noted by historians as the highest percentage of any European country) during World War two is an abomination and blot on the history of Lithuania and its citizenry.
The two events are not equal. Historical sufferings are not identical.
One does not equate to the other.
Creating antisemitic documents in the guise of historical redress such as the 2008 Prague Declaration and creating politically deceptive commissions such as the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes, commonly known as the “Red-Brown Commission,” then dressing it up with a token Jew at the helm, Emanuelis Zingeris (the only Jew in Europe to sign the Prague Declaration, and the only Jewish member of Lithuania’s parliament) who founded it and remains its ongoing chairman, is a hideous masquerade.
“We call for an immediate boycott of this commission to demonstrate to the world that Jews will not be used as political pawns acquiescing to their own degradation.”
For anyone from Yad Vashem and the American Jewish Committee to join the Red-Brown commission and thereby lend any legitimacy to it would be a shocking and unacceptable perversion of historical memory and justice.
The 2008 Prague Declaration, emanating from the antisemitic far right in Eastern Europe, and widely denounced worldwide by scholars, Jewish and non-Jewish citizenry and trustworthy politicians as undermining the history of the Holocaust demands that all of Europe accept the notion of the equivalence of the Nazi and Soviet occupational regimes. The commission’s website features the Prague Declaration in English and Lithuanian and offers an educator’s conclusion that “Those regimes would be compared like two evils, just the details are different, that’s all.”
And then, if one looks behind the masks and costuming of this commission, one finds that the word “Jew” is often synonymous with Communist in Lithuania today. Therefore, the Jews are the ones responsible for the Soviet Holocaust. The image of the Jewish victim morphs seamlessly into that of a genocide perpetrator.
National Socialist (Nazi) and Soviet crimes are not equal. Adding to a May 2010 Lithuanian court ruling legalizing public displays of the swastika, and thus “rehabilitating” it for use as a symbol of national pride, was a June 29th 2010 statute signed into law by the president, imposing punishments that include prison sentences of up to two years for those who dare argue that Soviet crimes in Lithuania did not constitute genocide, hence turning those who would challenge the notion that “Soviet and Nazi crimes are equal” into criminals.
Luckily, for those of us who live in countries where free speech is guaranteed, we can fight against racism, against insidious historical revisionism and the co-opting of individuals by political perks and pressures.
We call for an immediate boycott of this commission (the Lithuanian government’s main engine of political and administrative support for the Prague Declaration) to illuminate and demonstrate to the world that Jews will not be used as political pawns acquiescing to their own degradation.
We, the undersigned, present this letter in memory of all our family members, from those who were killed in Lithuania to all the innocents who perished whether in ghettos, on forced marches, in prisons and concentration camps, in silent forests or public squares, and in defense and honor of the small survivor communities and our survivor families, children, and grandchildren.
Ellis Arnstein, MD, New York
Linda Cedarbaum, MSW, Connecticut
Beverly Eisenstadt, PhD, JD, Florida
Michael Fox, PhD, New York
Josi Konski, California
Sam Milstein, PhD New York
Linda Prince, MA, Florida
Carol Radsprecher, MFA, New York
Basheva Ran, Florida
Faye Ran, PhD, New York
Davina Ran, Massachusetts