Saturday, March 1, 2008

Concern over Anti-Semitism?

Lithuania Issues Warrant for Arrest of Former Yad V’shem Director. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Received with Honor by Current Director at the Yad V’Shem Memorial Museum.

The criticism of Israeli policy, however well deserved, is vilified by “friends of Israel” as a pernicious form of anti Semitism. This kind of attack is a major element in the desperate strategy of the pro-Israel forces to delegitimize any criticism of Israel. The threat of being accused of anti-Semitism by powerful forces in the Jewish community is a highly effective weapon. One could conclude, under the impression of this state of affairs, that Israel really cares about anti-Semitism. It is certainly the declared goal of Israel to spearhead the fight against anti-Semitism whenever it rears it ugly head.

WANTED: Dr. Yitshak Arad by the Government of Lithuania

Yitshak Arad (aged 81) is about as close as you can get to being an Israeli legend. Trapped behind German lines in Lithuania as a teen- ager, he became a decorated fighter in the partisans. After the war, he made his way to Israel, had an impressive military career in the IDF, retiring as a brigadier-general and then went on to a highly distinguished academic career. He was appointed director of Yad V’shem, and served for more than twenty years (1972-1993).

The State Prosecutor in Lithuanian wants to interrogate Yitshak Arad, under suspicion of murder. The reason is that Arad, has written openly and proudly of his contribution as a partisan to the liquidation of several ranking Lithuanian Nazi collaborators. Lithuania was unique in that most of the Jews murdered in that country were victims of Lithuanian authorities. The Lithuanian government brazenly dared to use diplomatic channels to approach Israel some five months ago in an effort to get their hands on Arad.

A Most Dignified Welcome for a Most Dignified Guest

The Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Petras Vaitiekunas was in Israel last week and met with the President, Shimon Peres and the Foreign Minister, Tsipi Livneh. Relations between Lithuania, a member of the EU, and Israel seem just fine, though the very same relations served a few months back as the official conduit for the certified, still outstanding request by the Chief Prosecutor in Lithuania to the Israel Ministry of Justice. The Lithuanian authorities just want to ask Mr. Arad some questions about the deceased Lithuanian fascist collaborators. It would not be wise for Mr. Arad to contemplate a visit to Vilnius.
Viatiekunas (of course) visited Yad V’Shem, where the current Director, Avner Shalev, received him with honor and respect. Shalev did deliver into the Ambassador’s hands a rather strange note complaining that the Lithuanian government has not ended the investigation against Arad. The note also suggests that the Lithuanians are guilty of rewriting history. The hypocritical Israeli government coddles an anti-Semitic regime in Vilnius and pawns its official representative on to the Yad V’shem bureaucracy. The government sidesteps the issue and lets the Holocaust Memorial beg for the cancellation of the outrageous threat to Arad. But the diplomatic niceties will not help. The ongoing proceedings against Arad are based on Holocaust denial and smack of Holocaust renewal. And official Israel falls silent.

This friendship between the anti-Semitic Lithuanian government and Israel which pretends concern for Jewish honor is food for thought. The name of the Israeli game is, sadly enough, to smear your critics as anti-Semites while you embrace dangerous anti-Semites from Vilnius.

(See IHT, February 27, 2008 and Anshel Feffer, Ha’aretz, February 27, 2008. Ha’aretz devoted eight lines on page six to the meeting in Yad V’shem.)