Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today praised the recent decision of Yad Vashem to rescind its original invitation to Lithuanian Ambassador to Israel Darius Degutis and visiting Minister of Culture Arunas Gelunas to participate in tomorrow’s annual memorial assembly to commemorate the Jews murdered in Lithuania during the Holocaust. The decision was made in the wake of the refusal of Yosef Melamed, Chairman of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, to attend the event in the light of a recent attempt by the Lithuanian government to prosecute him for “libeling” so-called “Lithuanian heroes,” whom he exposed as participants in Holocaust crimes. In a statement issued here today by its chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center noted the significance of Yad Vashem’s decision in the context of the ongoing battle being waged against the Lithuanian government’s energetic efforts to hide and/or minimize the active complicity of Lithuanians in the mass murder of Jews, as well as its promotion of the Prague Declaration which seeks to establish a historically-false equivalency between Holocaust and Communist crimes.
According to Zuroff:
“Yad Vashem, which serves as the primary custodian of Shoa remembrance and the key guardian of the accuracy of the Jewish narrative of Holocaust history, is to be commended for fulfilling its historic function in a very courageous manner. Its decision is a crucial blow against the ongoing efforts of the Lithuanian government to distort the history of the Shoa in Lithuania and the role played by local Nazi collaborators in the mass murder of local and foreign Jews in Lithuania, as well as Jews in Belarus and Poland.”