Personal Statement on Antisemitism in Lithuania

Addendum to page on Antisemitism


Lithuania is not an antisemitic country. I have happily lived for most of the past eleven years in the heart of Vilnius, the nation’s capital; have been treated exceptionally well, and have found the city’s vibrant people to be tolerant, open, and good-humored. I have never lived in a city more friendly than central Vilnius.

The antisemitism that is so damaging to the country emanates on occasion from skinhead groups. Much more frequently, it is alas a disease of ‘elites’: politicians, government employees in certain ministries and departments, prosecutors, police, editors, journalists, academics (sometimes even those making fine hay from ‘Judaic Studies’), and worst of all, operatives on the gravy train of the state’s ‘Double Genocide Industry’. This ‘Industry’ seeks to obfuscate the Holocaust and shift blame to Jewish Holocaust survivors, all the while using naive western (and foreign Jewish) personalities and projects as decoys and dupes. It is plausible and necessary to combat antisemitism, racism and homophobia without in any way becoming a foe of the country. To the contrary, what better friend could a democratic, EU, NATO country hope to have than one who speaks the truth?

It is at the same time important to expose the underhanded techniques of the powerful antisemitic and revisionist machine. It can happen, even two decades after the collapse of the Soviet empire, that certain western travelers are susceptible to opportunities for instant glorification, honors, pleasures and fulfillment, and more generally, happy to find various genres of ‘bargains’. Not seldom, such ruses are smokescreened by ‘Jewish’ projects designed to deflect from rampant (and virtually unopposed) antisemitism, and the Double Genocide agendas. One of the greatest shocks on this site’s Antisemitism page is the piece written by the former head of the ‘Litvak Foundation’ (!), which accuses two thirds of today’s Lithuanian Jews of being ‘aliens from the East’. For shame.

Intimately related to the elitist antisemitism is the Holocaust Obfuscation movement, whose operatives, while espousing American or Israeli Jewry, and a glorious prewar Lithuanian-Jewish past, occasionally brim with hatred and derision toward the local current Jewish communities of the region. Alas, Holocaust distortion and revisionism have now become part of the Baltic states’ foreign policy. The litmus test of elemental integrity came in recent years when police and prosecutors, supported by politicians and media, began to harass, intimidate and defame the country’s last, oldest Holocaust survivors. Nearly all the robust response came from foreigners (as does most of the opposition to the red-brown commission and to the Prague Declaration). The question in one fell swoop became: Who will now speak up against these travesties? [Three cheers for citizens who do.]  And who will remain silent to stack up brownie points with the state’s ‘history control’ and ‘Jew manipulation’ programs? These programs have come to encompass tourism and ‘Jewish projects’ (especially those that involve foreigners coming for short fun stays) that cover up the critical issues instead of espousing (and tolerating) open and honest dialogue about them.

The most frightening change I have witnessed over a decade is not the palpable increase in racism, antisemitism and homophobia, disturbing as that trend is. It is the steady decline in the feeling of freedom of expression which has resulted in fewer and fewer local people daring to speak up against the powerful, elitist forces that be, for fear of loss of employment, status and career advancement; indeed, locals and resident foreigners alike who have spoken up are increasingly likely to be driven out of long-held (and faithfully executed) positions and feel ‘encouraged’ to quit the country. All the more reason to applaud the courage and patriotism of those Lithuanian citizens who have spoken up.

The ensuing decline on the vital freedom-of-debate scale is frightening. It was recently exacerbated by a law passed in June 2010 by the parliament and signed by the president that would impose up to two years’ imprisonment on those who would (in effect) reject the Double Genocide theory. See the Democracy page for details. The frightening trend away from civil liberties needs to be reversed with a sense of focused energy. And with rapidity. And with a realization that the country can have no better friends than those who champion robust civic debate without fear of payback from a nationalist far right that masquerades itself well ‘as required’. Those who take the time and trouble to make such points here do so out of a sincerely held affection for the country and its fine people.

The worst thing about the select list of events on this site’s Antisemitism page is not any one ‘thing’ on the list. It is the failure of most elites (including those in ‘the Jewish industry’) to combat (or even acknowledge) these issues with one single solitary word.


September 2010

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