Lithuania attacked over Holocaust

By Simon Rocker, February 10, 2011

The organisers of a conference this week on Lithuanian-Jewish relations have hit back at claims that critics of the Lithuanian government were not invited because it was jointly sponsored by the country's Foreign Ministry.

Francois Guesnet, who teaches modern Jewish history at University College London, said: "To suggest that critics of the Lithuanian government were excluded is not correct. Participants were chosen for their expertise, not on whether they were critical or not of the government."

The claims of exclusion were made in a petition handed to the Lithuanian embassy in London on Monday by Danny Ben-Moshe, an associate professor at Victoria University, Australia; MP Denis MacShane; and Danny Stone, director of the All-Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Foundation.

The petition attacked "an increasingly energetic campaign to stop the full truth about the Holocaust" being discussed in Lithuania.

It also criticised the Lithuanians over the threatened war crimes investigation of Jewish wartime partisans.

And the failure to punish any Lithuanian implicated in Nazi war crimes for 20 years; a court ruling last year which refused to outlaw the swastika as a Nazi symbol; and the government's "double genocide" campaign seeking to put European recognition of Soviet crimes on a par with those of the Nazis. On Tuesday, a Board of Deputies delegation met Lithuanian Ambassador Oskaras Jusys to discuss antisemitism and other matters, including the Lithuanian parliament's decision to postpone a $50 million restitution payment to the Lithuanian Jewish community.

Board joint vice-president Paul Edlin described the meeting as "productive," and said that the Lithuanians recognised that the Shoah was much worse than the Soviet occupation.

The ambassador, he said, had also pledged Lithuania's opposition to any demonisation of Israel or the Jewish people at the forthcoming United Nations Durban anniversary conference on human rights.

Last updated: 12:28pm, February 10 2011