August 17, 2010  
Efraim Zuroff and the Prague Declaration
by Arkadijus Vinokuras

Simon Wiesenthal Center director Efraim Zuroff and those who agree with him are voicing opposition the declaration adopted in Prague in 2008, entitled “On the Conscience of Europe and Communism.” The declaration names Communist as well as Nazi crimes as crimes against humanity. “Europe will not be united if it cannot again unite its history, recognize Communism and Nazism as a shared legacy and hold conscientious and comprehensive discussion on all the totalitarian crimes of the century past.”

Critics are categorically speaking out against what in their understanding is equating Nazi and Soviet crimes. Just as they once spoke out against the Nazi and Soviet research commission set up by Valdas Adamkus.

One might think that this opinion of theirs is supported by every citizen of Jewish origin in the world, since it is claimed through all possible information channels that this attempt to equate the crimes of the two totalitarian regimes is aimed at diminishing the tragedy of the Holocaust. The most impassioned debates have flared up in Israel on exactly this question today.

Proponents of this opinion say that Lithuania especially is trying to deny the crimes of its citizens against fellow Jewish citizens during World War II based on the Prague declaration.

The question arises: on what basis is the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center interfering and supporting policy dictated by the leaders of Russia, attempting at any cost to revise the crimes of Stalinism and Communism? The stated tasks of the Simon Wiesenthal Center are to capture criminals who exterminated Jews and to pressure governments to take active part in bringing these criminals to trial.

So why have these critics become defenders of the narrative of the battle of Good against Evil, where “good” has become Communist dictatorship, which murdered, robbed and turned into slave labor tens of millions of people, including Jews?

I understand that for Israel the holocaust is that other [typo? “is something else entirely”?], at once uniting and at the same time providing Israelis a collective narrative. It speaks to the state of Israel as the only defender of Jews, guaranteeing Jews the holocaust will not happen again. That’s why the Israeli military leadership sends its soldiers to Poland or Lithuania annually to visit Jewish mass murder sites.

It is strange, for example, that Lithuania is already trying to draw spiritual strength from its proud history, from its real or imagined heroic deeds, whereas Israel [is trying to draw strength from] the suffering of Jews. But that’s a different story.
So anyway, I also understand why an analogous narrative about the struggle of Good against Evil is directed toward a portion of Russian society that doesn’t want to remember the millions of victims of the bolshevik or Stalin era. Because many of those who participated directly or indirectly in the mass murder and persecution of their own citizens have still not died off. That’s why something like the Nuremberg trial isn’t taking place in Russia.

But, and I repeat, it is not understandable to me why critics of the Prague declaration of Jewish origin haven’t thought about the consequences of support for this counterfeit narrative for survivors of the mass murders of, persecutions and occupations of Stalinism. Not only did they suffer the hell of the Nazis, but another ten years of the hell of Stalinist cummunism [sic], not to mention the occupation of their fatherlands for about 50 years.

When those who survived the Stalinist repressions ask why Jews receive greater attention for their suffering, these questioners are told that in that Evil there was an even bigger Evil—the holocaust. Therefore the sufferings they experiences is not comparable, because their suffering didn’t make it into the narrative of the struggle of Good and Evil, of the communists against the nazis. One would have to search for a long time to find a more amoral [sic] argument. Such an argument has the unpleasant smell of political demagoguery. A political context wherein one set of murderers, including of Jewish origin, become good killers, is amoral [sic] (I’m talking about the entire period of the domination of bolshevism).

It’s one thing to claim the holocaust is distinct, to worry with good foundation about the possible use of the Prague declaration for evil purposes, but it’s an entirely different matter when based on that distinction you try to force others to belittle their own suffering and to ignore historical facts.

This is what Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research and International Relations Center, and also the editor of the International Relations and Middle East Turkish Studies [?], writes about. In his article in the conservative Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post (“Those Who Ignore the Past Lose the Future”) he says they [?] need to support the Prague declaration because it is in the interests of Jews themselves and Israel. The author says “This declaration seeks discussion, revelation, unmasking and recognition of communist crimes just as it does those of the nazis.”

The author provides a list which he thinks proves the error of not supporting the Prague declaration. He says the result of this position [of non-support] is the image of Jews defending the totalitarian communist system that has killed off and tortured millions of people, including hundreds of thousands of Jews.

Burial of the fact that the soviets systematically destroyed jewish communities and religion and the yiddish language.

Comprehension of the entire extent of Jewish persecution and suffering under the boot of communism becomes impossible. During the existence of communism, after 1945 it became the primary power encouraging anti-semitism.

[There is] a growing gulf between Jews who suffered communist oppression and residents of non-Russian origin, thus increasing mutual tensions. [in Israel?]

Assurance that the youth of the West will not learn about crimes committed by the communist dictatorship. They are being indoctrinated with the belief that only the political right can be anti-semitic. In this way the position of extreme left is strengthened as is their power to influence society, often masquerading as liberal [the extremist left is pretending to be liberal? not clear]. This is a way to encourage slander and hatred against Israel.

Hindering Jews from understanding that today the primary doctrine of the anti-jewish forces in the West is formed by [of?] extremist leftists rather than rightists, as has been the case over the last 150 years. In this way the anti-Israeli position of the extremist leftists is pushed and a divorce from one’s own society [Jewish alienation is effected?].

Justification of third world pseudo-leftist regimes and doctrines. They foster the image that they are the only just ones, and therefore uncorrupted and free from anti-semitism by definition.

Facilitation for Western radicals to join with radical islamists based on a common platform: hatred of Israel. And, often, in everyday life, the slander of Jewish communities in the West. The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry ought to thank Mr. Barry Rubin for doing their work for them: he has explained the Prague declaration wonderfully in plain language. At the very least his article should be sent to all the embassies, thus avoiding unnecessary misunderstandings or the inability to explain in an understandable way to the global media why Lithuania supports the Prague declaration. And why shouldn’t one be ashamed? [sic. “Why should we be ashamed?”]

A Jerusalem Post reporter came to Vilnius to write about the same topic. The article at first glance appears objective. But even so, the Jerusalem journalist managed, by using the words of another Jewish nationalist living in Vilnius, professor Dovid Katz, to besmirch one of the initiators of the Prague declaration, chairman of the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee Emanuelis Zingeris. He called him, without any documented foundation, an enemy of Lithuanian Jews, that is, a lackey of the Lithuanians.

This makes an impression on the average Jewish reader who doesn’t understand anything. Emanuelis Zingeris as the only Jew to have signed the declaration was seriously urged to remove his signature more than once. He has many times counseled Israelis to make more active investigations of the crimes of communism against the jewish nation and the world. And, lastly, one should not forget that the Prague declaration was signed by prominent democrats of Western Europe including Vaclav Havel [sic], who has on more than one occasion defended the state of Israel’s right to exist.
It was also not for nothing that Efraim Zuroff criticized the Litvak heritage forum created on the initiative of the Lithuanian prime minister, making noises about similar “incorrect” intentions. This is indirectly calling the members of the forum from the jewish community Lithuanian lackeys.

Such statements are also the result of giving in to dark political games, into which, unfortunately, Mr. Efraim Zuroff has also descended. Although two Lithuanian nationals need to be given [beaten?] for one Jewish nationalist (I’ll talk about that another time), but in the end all sides need to remember that we are [first of all?] citizens of Lithuania of Jewish origin. We are not some small community from a folk museum stetl reservation of unknown loyalty. Mr. Efraim Zuroff, being an historian, knows perfectly well that history is not falsified, history is not toyed with. It is learned from. Critics of the Prague declaration would do well to understand that they themselves, in Moscow’s eyes, have become her [Moscow’s] useful idiots, working against the interests of Jews and Israel.