Michael Kretzmer

Where do we go from here?

Next week I will be joining Grant Gochin and Silvia Foti on a two week J’Accuse! Tour of Australia. This tour is without doubt our greatest success, a symbol of everything the film and the campaign have achieved, and it signals a new and unwavering determination in the quest for Holocaust Truth and justice. And how fabulous this should be happening in Australia, because it was in Australia where my entirely unknown film was launched last November (thank you JIFF!!).
The last 8 months have been, quite literally, unbelievable. In this time the film has won over 110 best documentary awards and film festival selections across the world. It has played to sell-out audiences in Israel, South Africa, England, Australia and America. It has been translated into 6 languages, including Lithuanian and Hebrew. It has been featured in newspapers and on television stations. And most importantly, and I know this from the dozens of deeply heartfelt messages I have received from Jews across the world, it has empowered many of us Jews to return to those dreadful forests in which our entire communities were tortured to death and resurrect their demand for honour and truth.
There have also been unimagined political successes. Over the last month or two we have seen Germany and the USA issue scolding rebukes about Holocaust Denial and Distortion in Lithuania, one Lithuanian ambassador publicly dissent, a Religious Freedom report rip Lithuania to shreds, and, most dramatically, the furtive, midnight removal of Noreika’s bust from Central Vilnius in preparation for this month’s NATO visit.
The film has certainly been watched in Vilnius, and the liars and antisemites are worried. Indeed, for me the most eloquent measure of our success is the deadly silence from Lithuania. They haven’t even tried to bully or fight back. And why? Because they can’t. Because the film, and especially the blistering testimony of Silvia Foti, tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
These are significant victories, but where do we go from here? Indeed, what do we want?
Over the next three weeks we will be speaking to the leaders influencers, students, scholars, women and ordinary people of the great Australian Jewish community. I am hoping that together we will come up with a viable strategy that takes this campaign into its next phase. In my view the following issues have to be considered:
Lithuania must not be allowed to resurrect the bust of the mass murderer Jonas Noreika. The remaining busts and titles must also be removed officially across the country (though personally I do not favour tearing down of statues and would be perfectly content if they just added the words ‘… and Holocaust mass murderer’.) If Lithuania reinstates the statue of Noreika in Vilnius I would regard this is a disgusting provocation.
We should encourage Jews to be more sceptical of links with Lithuania. What is the point of Heritage Tours, Cultural Exchanges and friendship groups with Lithuanians if their purpose is to deceive and promote Holocaust Distortion? Perhaps the time has come to boycott these and other economic relations with Lithuania.
We must try and spread the word of J’Accuse! to the not-Jewish and specifically the Christian world. I think we may find an open door there.
We must seek and cherish contacts with all Lithuanians who seek the truth. They are our partners.
Finally we must insist on an open debate with the powerful Jewish organisations and individuals who benefit from Lithuanian largesse and provide them with propaganda cover. Who are these people who purport to talk on our behalf, yet never raise the subject of Lithuanian antisemitism and Holocaust distortion? We must remind them of their responsibilities.
Something extraordinary has happened with this film. Without a single penny in marketing, promotion and PR, without any support of big deal Jews and Jewish organizations, without any assistance from big deal rabbis (still waiting guys), we have changed the conversation with Lithuania. We have forced them to take down the bust of their stinking murderer. We have alerted the world to the insult of Lithuanian Holocaust distortion and we have reminded the world of their disgusting crimes. We did this with nothing but the truth, and the desire to tell that truth.
My friends, when I started this I never believed we could make a difference. Now I believe we can win. And if we do that, we will have done something of great importance.
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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