claim Audronius Ažubalis, who is visiting Israel, made
anti-Semitic remarks. 'Lithuania trying to belittle memory
of Holocaust ,' says Director of the Simon Wiesenthal
Center Dr. Efraim Zuroff
Some 15 people, including Holocaust survivors, protested Monday evening against
the Lithuanian foreign minister, who is visiting Israel
to attend a commercial business conference at Tel Aviv's
Dan Panorama hotel.
The protesters, who held signs
in Hebrew and English reading "where is your conscience? Where is your solidarity with the Holocaust survivors?", claimed Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis had made anti-Semitic comments
in the past, and that the Lithuanian government has made
attempts to "belittle the memory of the Holocaust."
Director of the Simon Wiesenthal
Center Dr. Efraim Zuroff said that Ažubalis is "a guest of honor for Israeli groups doing business here. However, this is a man
who has made anti-Semitic remarks and opposed a bill
that would have helped Lithuanian Jews get their stolen
According to Zuroff, "Lithuania's
government has been fighting a battle to turn the Holocaust
into another tragedy among many. Their aim is to place
Nazis and Communists on an equal footing. That is to
say they are comparing between those who build the Auschwitz
and those who liberated it. This angers us and that's
why we're protesting," he exclaimed.
Attorney Yossef Melamed, an
87-year-old Holocaust survivor who attended the protest
told Ynet: "I was 17 during the Holocaust. After the war, me and a few of my friends compiled
a list of 3,000 Lithuanians who we believe cooperated
with the Nazis."
Melamed said he later discovered
that "some names on the list are considered to be national heroes in Lithuania," adding that he was accused of making false allegations and even interrogated
by police officers who came to his house and told him
that he might be sued.
"The list we wrote
is proven, and I don't mind going to trial, as long as
it is here in Israel and I don't have to go back to Lithuania," he noted.
Marcelle Juliet Saul Sheiman,
among the conference organizers, said in response: "The event was organized as part of the celebrations for the 20 year anniversary
of Lithuania-Israel relations.
have every right to demonstrate, but our view is that
we are moving on – not forgetting the Holocaust, but
encouraging close relations between the two nations."
The Lithuanian Embassy was
not available for comment.