of being ashamed of its past, Lithuania is rewriting its
history, granting pardons to Lithuanians who were tried after
the war in Soviet courts for collaboration with the Nazis.
On August 30, Superintendent Tamar Bat Sharon and another Israel Police investigator
reported to the office of Joseph Melamed. They came as emissaries
of the Lithuanian government, which is accusing Melamed of
slandering nine Lithuanians who were executed by the Soviet
government for collaborating with the Nazis. In their homeland
they are considered national heroes.
Attorney Melamed, 86, a survivor of the Kovno Ghetto and a partisan who fought
in the forests, is chairman of the Association of Lithuanian
Jews in Israel. In 1999, he sent the Lithuanian prosecutor
general a document entitled "Lithuania: Crime and Punishment," which contains a list of thousands of Lithuanians who collaborated with the
Nazis and executed Jews during World War II. The list is
based on testimony taken from survivors and eyewitnesses.
Melamed demanded that the prosecutor general investigate
Lithuania didn't lift a finger. Its government waited for 12 years and has now
issued an order to investigate Melamed, of all people.
One of the nine whose honor the Lithuanian government wants to uphold is Juazas
Luks'a, an officer in the Lithuanian army, who in 1941 used
his sword to saw off the head of Rabbi Zalman Osovsky, and
then put it on public display.
Many Lithuanians gladly collaborated
with the Nazis and welcomed them as liberators. In 1941,
even before the "liberation," Lithuanians began to massacre their Jewish neighbors. Most Lithuanian Jews,
about 200,000, were exterminated in the Holocaust. Many of
the murderers were Lithuanians. They had no need of Nazi
Instead of being ashamed of its past,
Lithuania is rewriting its history. It grants pardons to
Lithuanians who were tried after the war in Soviet courts
for the crime of collaboration with the Nazis. It considers
them national heroes. In 2010, Lithuania even permitted the
public use of swastikas.
Israel's embarrassing silence is being
interpreted in Lithuania as weakness. Encouraged by the lack
of Israeli response, Lithuania is not content only with expressions
of nostalgia for the Nazi occupation or with sanctifying "patriots," the collaborators. In recent years there has been an escalation in Lithuanian
chutzpah. It has begun to demand that Israel investigate
Holocaust survivors for "war crimes." It began a few years ago with a demand that Israel extradite Brig. Gen. (ret.
) Yitzhak Arad, who was the chief education officer and chairman
of Yad Vashem. The Lithuanians demanded his extradition for
being a partisan who fought the Nazis and Lithuanian collaborators.
Instead of responding firmly and sending
back the request without examining it, as is to be expected
from a country that has vowed to preserve the memory of the
Holocaust, the Israeli Justice Ministry made do with a rejection
of the request, adding that it would have been preferable
had it not been submitted, or something to that effect.
Later, the Lithuanians repeated the
despicable maneuver of accusing Holocaust survivors of "war crimes," this time directing it at Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, a resident of Vilna, and
Rachel Margolis of Rehovot.
It turns out that in the case of Melamed
there was no coordination between the Israel Police and the
Justice Ministry. It is surprising that the Israel Police,
which usually investigates slowly, actually demonstrated
unusual alacrity when it came to Lithuania's request to take
testimony from Melamed (the case was first reported by Prof.
Dovid Katz in his blog DefendingHistory.com).
But even more disturbing is the deafening
silence of the Israeli government. The time has come for
the government to stop showing restraint and to voice a harsh
protest in order to put an end, once and for all, to the
Declaring the Lithuanian ambassador
to Israel a persona non grata, or at least lowering the level
of diplomatic relations, are fitting steps for a country
that presumes to be the country of Holocaust survivors.