VILNIUS—On the eve of the planned neo-Nazi march in central Vilnius, slated for 3 PM on March 11th, Lithuania’s independence day, the chairperson of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, Faina Kukliansky, issued a statement on the community’s website, which was followed within minutes by a statement from the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Director of East European Affairs, Dr. Efraim Zuroff. The full text of both statements follows:
FAINA KUKLIANSKY, 10 MARCH 2015:
“Faina Kukliansky, chair of the Lithuanian Jewish-Litvak Community, has issued the following statement on the eve of the March 11th Lithuanian Independence Day holiday, following reports in the media that a march through the heart of the Lithuanian capital by ultranationalists would go forward as planned:
“Faina Kukliansky, chair of the Lithuanian Jewish-Litvak Community, says the March 11th holiday is to very important and dear to Lithuanian Jews, and therefore should not be an occasion for insulting citizens of other ethnicities through means unacceptable in a democratic society. The Lithuanian Jewish Community strongly condemns the Nazi chants often heard on this day of great import to the Lithuanian state, and we are very encouraged by the words of Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius uttered on the eve of the holiday at the Sholem Aleichem Jewish school in Vilnius that he will not allow the sowing of ethnic discord through various slogans and chants on the occasion of the birthday of the state. ‘He said that the head of the Government and other government officials want to stress that antisemitism and intolerance will not be tolerated in Lithuania.’”
EFRAIM ZUROFF, 10 MARCH 2015:
The Simon Wiesenthal Center today praised the statement issued by Faina Kukliansky, chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, for condemning the ultranationalist march scheduled to mark Lithuanian Independence Day, Wednesday March 11th. In a statement issued in Frankfurt, Germany, en route from Jerusalem to Vilnius, the Center’s newly appointed Director of East European Affairs, Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff noted the importance of an unequivocal condemnation from the head of the local Jewish community.
According to Zuroff:
“By speaking out against this march, which will mar the celebrations of Lithuanian Independence Day, Ms. Kukliansky is following in the tradition of her eminent predecessor Dr. Shimon Alperovich, who consistently spoke out against manifestations of antisemitism and intolerance. I will personally participate in the silent protest planned by residents of the Lithuanian capital against the glorification of Holocaust perpetrators and the demeaning of the country’s minorities, as I did a month ago at a similar march in Kaunas.”