Baltics visit – Experts urge PM Netanyahu to confront rewriting of Holocaust history
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting Friday with three Baltic prime ministers in his quest to counterbalance European unfriendly attitude towards Israel and to increase pressure on Iran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, at the latter’s office in Vilnius. Also attending the meeting were Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius, Interior Minister Eimutis Misiunas and the two entourages.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Skvernelis also hosted an official dinner for Prime Minister Netanyahu.
“Thank you Prime Minister for your warm hospitality that you’ve shown to me and my delegation. I’m deeply honored to be the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit Lithuania. I want to congratulate you on recently celebrating 100 years of Lithuania’s independence and I’m doing so again on this important day in your history.
Lithuania and Israel are as you said natural allies. We share the values of freedom and democracy. We are two nation-states proud of our national identity and committed to protecting individual rights”, Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu met with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė at the Presidential Palace in Vilnius.
PM Netanyahu: “I have to tell you that this is not a regular visit for me. It’s full of historical meaning, both the history of the Jews here in Lithuania and also my personal history, my family’s personal history. My great-grandfather came from Lithuania.”
As Netanyahu began the official visit to Lithuania, two leading experts on the Holocaust urged him to speak out against the continued distortion in the Baltic region of the Nazi slaughter of the Jews — including the whitewashing of local Nazi collaborators, and the politically-driven comparison of German atrocities with abuses committed by the Soviet authorities.
A full 95 percent of Lithuania’s 220,000 Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, along with 77 percent of Latvia’s and 35 percent of Estonia’s smaller Jewish communities.
Having faced criticism for adopting an overly-conciliatory stance on Poland’s recently-passed law which aims to downplay the active role of the Poles during the Nazi atrocities, Netanyahu will have the opportunity to raise the distortion of Holocaust history in the Baltic countries at his meetings.
“By standing up against the wholesale rewriting of history — including the state-sponsored effort to turn Holocaust collaborators into publicly honored ‘heroes’, Netanyahu will be demonstrating that Israel can have the best relations with East European countries without betraying its citizens, the truth of history and the Holocaust, or loyalty to elementary Jewish causes,” Prof. Dovid Katz, an expert on Yiddish culture and Jewish history in Eastern Europe declared.