Michael Kretzmer

Time to Withdraw the Hand of Friendship from Lithuania?

The nursery school in Plunge, Lithuania. All these children were murdered by Jonas Noreika. (Thanks to Maxine and Victor Boyd, and the Cape Town Holocaust Museum)

Those of us fighting for Holocaust truth in Lithuania have reason to feel encouraged at the moment. In recent weeks there have been some extraordinary developments:

*Before a key NATO visit the main Noreika plaque was secretly removed in the dead of night from its iconic location in central Vilnius and remains hidden to this day in some proto fascist hideout
*NATO is now aware that Lithuania’s infatuation with mass murdering antisemites is an embarrassment and creates a serious ideological, political and ethical weakness in the context of the Ukraine war
*The strength of recent German and American diplomatic messages to LIthuania have been startling
*More truth tellers in Lithuania are revealing their grandfathers’ murderous secrets
*The government’s highly symbolic decision to build a giant Jewish memorial on the old Soviet Sports Palace – itself a grotesque monstrosity built on an ancient Jewish cemetery – is welcome (but no need to gush folks – this is yet another attempt to fleece credulous Jews by creating one more Dead Jew Theme Park in Lithuania)
*The capitulation of the Orwellian Genocide Centre in its admission that Juozas Krikštaponi was indeed another mass murderer of Jews and shouldn’t have the status of national hero (Well no shit, Sherlock!!!)
* The startling admission by a senior Genocide Centre apparatchik that the organisation is motivated by ideology and not historical accuracy (Well, no shit Sherlock!!!)
*The Lithuanian President’s establishment of a commission to look into controversial statues
*The increasingly effective J’Accuse! campaigning in the EU/US/Australia
*The courageous admission by the former South African Lithuanian ambassador Dainius Junevicius that Noreika was indeed a mass murderer and should not have a statue in his honour
* Most interestingly, brave Lithuanian Jews themselves are now demanding that the Noreika busts are taken down permanently

Just a few months ago none of this would have been imaginable.

I like to think that J’Accuse! has played a part in all of this. The film’s global success is entirely  down to the efforts of our Litvak brothers and sisters across the world who instantly, passionately, rallied to its demand for justice. We really did make this film together so now, as we witness the malodorous unravelling of the Lithuanian lie mythology, perhaps we can dare ask ourselves: what do we want? What would be enough? Where do we go from here?

I have no hesitation in outlining the best possible result. This would be for Lithuania to enable an honest, redemptive dialogue with the Jewish People by telling the truth about the Lithuanian Holocaust. The healing process can only be based on the truthtelling that Lithuania has avoided for decades. In other words, Lithuania must do what Germany has done. Not impossible, ask Silvia Foti. And, being Jews, we would sincerely welcome them into friendship with open arms.

Do I think this will happen? Frankly, no. The moral corruption runs so deep. But should we try? Absolutely (as Pirkei Avot says we are not obligated to complete the work but neither are we free to desist from it).

But honestly, I am beyond caring what Lithuania does or does not do. I am more concerned by what we Jews do. And in my opinion this is what we should do:

We should withdraw our hand of friendship from Lithuania.

I know this sounds naive but hear me out. Lithuania gets away with its lies and insults because we Jews allow them to. Because important Jews, rabbis, businessmen and Jewish organizations suck up to them and kiss their lying tuchuses every time they drop their pants. We gobble up their favours and dispensations and tours and gongs and stipends. We dissolve at their insincere smiles and bullshit sympathy and not surprisingly they play us like marionettes. And we dance to their tune even when they aren’t shooting bullets at our feet for laughs.

We clever, strong Jews are so stupid and weak sometimes, and shrewd, deceitful Lithuania knows all our vulnerabilities. They understand our schmaltziness, our pathetic desire to be loved, our desperate need for normalisation and acceptance, our debilitating fear of antisemites, our simpering pragmatism, our hopeless yearning to believe that Jew hatred is a thing of the past and if we behave obligingly we’ll be safe. And that, my dear friends, is why we have today a government in Lithuania that brazenly tells lies to honour the mass murderers of our people. Because we have allowed them to get away with it.

It’s time to change that mindset and we can. Because we have the stronger hand. Lithuania needs our friendship a lot more than we need theirs because without it they will never be free, and nor will their children or the generations to follow.

This would not be difficult. It could be communicated in letters from Jewish schools, synagogues, Jewish women’s groups and Jewish academic associations. It could be done by private individuals and important celebrities. Who knows, we may even be able to persuade the large, very wealthy Jewish organizations such as the AJC or Yad Vashem to play a part (I doubt it too, but you never know). Additionally we should suspend heritage tours and investment drives and impose other forms of economic boycott. This they would understand. And of course, Israel could and should play a role, as it has with Poland.

Let me remind you what’s at stake. The government of Lithuania, its courts, its museums, its academy and its press tell lies to hero worship the people who murdered, raped, tortured and humiliated our families.

I ask you: would any other people on earth accept such an insult? Would any other nation want to be friends with such a country?

No. Only Jews.

About the Author
Bulawayo born, a former travel writer for the Sunday Times and director/producer for the BBC and other once important media organisations, a keeper of chickens and grower of fruit and veg, a biker, a student of Torah, a Dad and Grandad... and a man determined to fight for justice in Lithuania.
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