At a 13 October parliamentary meeting of the right-wing faction that governs Lithuania, the country’s Foreign Minister, Audronius Ažubalis, began a discussion of proposals to again permit dual citizenship by saying that ‘everyone knows’ who is pushing the bill in parliament. Pressed for details, he went on to explain that the culprits are foreign Jews of Litvak origin (i.e. the same precise group being targeted for PR by his Foreign Ministry for its Fake Litvak Forum).
Slipping deeper into classic antisemitic canards, the foreign minister went on to propose that ‘they’ are doing this in order to reap financial benefits by way of property restitution that depends upon citizenship under the country’s citizenship laws that racially favor ethnic Lithuanians.
The main news report of the incident by a highly respected journalist, in the country’s main daily, Lietuvos rytas is headlined:
FOREIGN AFFAIRS STRATEGIST SEES JEWISH CONSPIRACY
One of the ironies is that most Western experts believe Lithuania would benefit enormously in the spirit of Ireland and other countries, who have amassed an army of descendants around the world who are committed to the welfare, growth and economy of their ancestral homeland. But in the case of Lithuania, it would mean reaching out also to Jews of Lithuanian origin. Around 95% of Lithuania’s Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, the highest percentage in Europe, because of massive voluntary local participation in the genocide.
The foreign minister’s statements elicited a rapid reaction from the Jewish Community of Lithuania (15 Oct) and thereafter from the Simon Wiesenthal Center (18 Oct), and from Arkadijus Vinokuras (20 Oct), the prime minister’s official advisor on Jewish issues.
Less than one month ago, Foreign Minister Ažubalis visited the City University of New York and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, boasting of the Lithuanian parliament’s decision to declare 2011 a year of commemoration for Holocaust victims. Only hours after his departure, the Lithuanian parliament changed its mind and re-dedicated 2011 to all the country’s losses other than the Holocaust, while encouraging glorification of Holocaust collaborators whom the national far right is recasting as ‘anti-Soviet resistance heroes’. The country’s tiny but proud Jewish Community has spoken out forcefully (see here and here).
FULL TRANSLATION OF THE LIETUVOS RYTAS ARTICLE (14 Oct)
RESPONSE OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF LITHUANIA (14 Oct)
PUBLISHED VERSION OF THE RESPONSE IN JERUSALEM OF LITHUANIA
STATEMENT OF THE LITHUANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY (14 Oct)
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER (18 Oct)
COVERAGE ON JUEDISCHE.AT (18 Oct)
ARTICLE BY ARKADIJUS VINOKURAS (20 Oct)
MINISTRY GOES ON TO CRITIQUE FEELINGS OF COUNTRY’S POLISH MINORITY