Lithuanian MP Thrown Out of Party for Anti-Semitic Statements

Lithuanian MP Thrown Out of Party for Anti-Semitic Statements

Photo: Remigijus Žemaitaitis, © 2023 ELTA/Andrius Ufartas

Lithuanian MP Remigijus Žemaitaitis says his party’s ratings will suffer following the decision to cast him out for making anti-Semitic statements, the Lithuanian news agency ELTA reports.

He belonged to the Freedom and Justice party and was elected to his fourth term in the Lithuanian parliament in 2020.

Žemaitaitis says his removal will harm that party’s popularity and claimed he accounts for around 6% of the support the party enjoys in the Žemaitijan region in city council and mayoral elections.

“I am one of those politicians who are not benefited by a party, and that’s sufficiently obvious. This party before we joined barely had 1 to 1.5% of votes. With my team’s arrival we had 6%. So I think this says a lot, that it’s not the party which brings good polls, it’s not the party which inspires confidence, but the person and people’s work,” Žemaitaitis told ELTA after the removal. He said it was his work which resulted in votes in municipal elections in Žemaitija for the Freedom and Justice party.

MP Žemaitaitis characterized his former party’s decision to remove him as unfair and didn’t discount the possibility they would change their mind in the future.

“If the party listens to something else rather than legal arguments, that’s their business. … All the ethics commissions and investigations and everything else will pass, and perhaps the party will adopt a different decision,” he said.

He reiterated in the interview with ELTA that his statements about Israel on facebook were correct and that he maintains that position, and claimed his former party was supporting a terrorist state: “In adopting this decision the party is supporting a terrorist state, Israel.”

On Monday last week Žemaitaitis posted an entry on his facebook page regarding the removal of a Palestinian school by Israel near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

“Besides Putin another set of animals has appeared in the world: Israel,” he wrote. “After these sorts of events, it’s not surprising that such statements arise: ‘A Jew climbed a ladder and fell down accidentally. Take a stick, children, and beat that Jew to death,'” he wrote on facebook, citing an anti-Semitic Lithuanian children’s song.

His statements led to a wave of responses, including from the embassies of Israel, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA to Lithuania and the World Jewish Congress, condemning the statements and calling for a public apology. Domestically Žemaitaitis faced calls for an investigation by the Lithuanian parliament’s Ethics and Procedures Commission over alleged inappropriate behavior, and the Vilnius District Prosecutor’s Office initiated a pre-trial investigation into the possible sowing of ethnic discord.

In his own defense, the MP said he was citing a classic example of anti-Semitism intentionally, making the argument the state of Israel is giving rise to anti-Semitism around the world through its policies.

Full story in Lithuanian here.