of Lithuanian culture minister, ambassador in conference
on Lithuanian Jewry canceled; Lithuania has policy of
asking Israel to investigate Holocaust survivors on claims
of committing war crimes, among other suspicions.
Yad Vashem has canceled the participation of Lithuania's culture minister, Arunas
Gelunas, and of Darius Degutis, Lithuania's ambassador
to Israel, in a conference on the destruction of Lithuanian
Jewry, which is scheduled for next week in Jerusalem.
The move is a protest against Lithuania's policy of asking
Israel to investigate Holocaust survivors on claims of
committing war crimes, among other suspicions.
Last week Haaretz published an opinion piece by this reporter calling for the
expulsion of the Lithuanian ambassador. Following the
column, Yad Vashem received calls for it to cancel the
invitations - and even cancel the conference.
Joseph Melamed, 86, a survivor of the Kovno Ghetto and a partisan who fought
in the forests and the chairman of the Association of
Lithuanian Jews in Israel said he would boycott the conference.
He now says he will attend.
The Lithuanian government has accused Melamed of slandering nine Lithuanians
who were executed by the Soviet government for collaborating
with the Nazis.
"When we read the
Israel Police investigated Melamed at Lithuania's request
we were shocked. We decided to cancel the participation
of the culture minister and Lithuanian ambassador in
the conference," said Yad Vashem's spokeswoman, Iris Rosenberg. "The conference will take place as planned."