Do We Accept the Pain of Our Fellow Citizens?

Do We Accept the Pain of Our Fellow Citizens?

by Donatas Puslys,

Following news of the closure of the Vilnius synagogue and the headquarters of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, I read on the social media that, allegedly, the Jewish community itself is inciting anti-Semitism in Lithuania today by dishonoring Lithuania’s heroes. The claim the Jews themselves are to blame for anti-Semitism is worthy of the title anti-Semitic.

I also read Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius is encouraging anti-Semitism. It seems to me, however, that only an anti-Semite is capable of spreading anti-Semitism. Since the mayor, whatever his shortcomings might be, is clearly not such, that seems to imply anti-Semites have existed in society even before this story began and have now found a convenient occasion to come out of the woodwork with their message of hate about traitors. The hero of Amos Oz’s book “Judas,” Shmuel, summarizes this message of hate succinctly, writing about how Judas was transformed from the New Testament figure into a symbol of betrayal and Jewishness, the former being connected with the latter. Today’s anti-Semites employ this imagery in their attempt to impose the opinion that discussions on the assessment of the activities of Noreia and Škirpa are themselves abnormal, while they are also difficult, painful and often get bogged down, but are nothing more than a betrayal by the Jews.

Anti-Semitism, it’s worth pointing out, is not just another position adopted in a dialogue, it is not an inevitability to which we must become accustomed for the sake of free speech. It is a cancer which should be removed before it metastasizes and infects the whole body, because, as [Baron Rabbi] Jonathan Sacks says, hatred which begins with Jews never ends with them alone.

Full text in Lithuanian here.