Monday, August 11, 2008

Yad Vashem concerned by Lithuanian anti-Semitism

from EJP (European Jewish News):

Swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti were sprayed on the Jewish organizations’ building Sunday in Vilnius. Daniel Kirshner, an Israeli residing in Vilnius, told Ynetnews that the fact that the graffiti was sprayed on the community centre on the eve of Tisha B'Av is not a coincidence. "I think that the fact that it happened on Tisha B'Av is symbolic," he said. "They knew exactly when and where to do it. In any case the community has no plans of taking it off, so that everyone can see what's happening."

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, voiced concern over anti-Semitic incidents and Holocaust revisionism in Lithuania.

In the latest incident, swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti were sprayed on the Jewish organizations’ building Sunday in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.
"Jews get out," said the graffiti found on the wall of the Jewish community center.
The building, in which Judaism is taught, and the community's museum adjacent to it, were both covered in swastikas, a Star of David on which a hanging man was depicted, and drawings of concentration camps besides the awful inscription.
“For nearly a year, Lithuanian authorities have been carrying out investigations into Jewish Holocaust survivors for their wartime activities as partisans in Lithuania,” Yad Vashem deplored on Monday.
Among those being persecuted is Dr. Yitzhak Arad, a Holocaust historian and former Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate.
"Despite various protest actions taken by Yad Vashem and other bodies, the persecutions of Jewish partisans continues in Lithuania, as do anti-Semitic incidents."

In a letter dated August 10, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev wrote to Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas: "Sadly, to date, the public outcry has yet to yield a fair and reasonable Lithuanian response. If anything, it seems that the harmful phenomenon of historical revisionism and distortion, of which the investigation of the Jewish partisans is a prime example, may actually be increasing in your country."
Yad Vashem called on Kirkilas "to intervene directly and restore Lithuania’s integrity as an enlightened and democratic nation by ending the misguided investigations."
"Only by dealing openly and forthrightly with the full and complex truth about the past will your nation succeed in building for itself a secure and stable future," Shalev wrote.
"Yad Vashem believes that a key way to combat the Holocaust revisionist trend is through education and by providing comprehensive, credible information to all those who seek it."
Shalev also wrote to Historical Commission Chair Emanuelis Zingeris to urge him to publicly voice his protest against the situation. In September 2007 Yad Vashem suspended its participation in the Historical Commission and in February Avner Shalev presented a letter of protest to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Petras Vaitiekunas during his visit to Jerusalem.
Before WWII, about 160,000 Jews lived in Lithuania but 95 percent of them were murdered in the Holocaust.
Today the Jewish population numbers around 5,000. The city of Vilnius, otherwise known as Vilna, used to be depicted as the “Jerusalem of the North.” Jews started to live in the city during the middle of the 16th century. It became a preeminent centre for rabbinical studies.

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