ADL Praises Lithuanian President for Condemning Anti-Semitic Attack
August 12, 2008
H. E. Valdas Adamkus
President of the Republic of Lithuania
Office of the President of the Republic of Lithuania
Simono Daukanto a. 3,
LT 01021 Vilnius
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to express our appreciation for your forceful and direct statement condemning the attack this past weekend on the Vilnius Jewish community center. Your recognition of the serious consequences to Lithuanian democracy which result from attacks on the Jewish community of Lithuania sends a clear message to the Lithuanian people that bigotry, hatred and anti-Semitism have no place in your country.
It is particularly important that you called on members of law enforcement and state prosecutors to act quickly to bring to justice the perpetrators of these hateful crimes. We hope the prosecutorial and judicial resources will be used for this purpose and not squandered on the pursuit of highly politicized investigations of Jewish partisans who fought against the Nazis and their collaborators in World War II.
Statements by government officials and civic leaders are an essential first step in the ongoing battle against bias, prejudice and intolerance. As societies work to inculcate democratic values and strengthen democratic institutions, it is also critical to reinforce the principles you so clearly put forth in your statement by repeating them whenever hate is manifest in your country and by implementing measures to assist law enforcement and the judiciary in focusing on the scourge of hate motivated crimes. We are encouraged by a report that a participant in the March 11 parade, where calls were made for Jews to leave the country, will be prosecuted for incitement to hatred.
The effect of statements such as yours can be significantly enhanced by implementing structural changes in the governmental institutions responsible for public order that will enable them to coordinate their responses to acts of hate that threaten the very nature of Lithuanian society. By taking concrete visible action in support of the ideals announced in your statement of condemnation, you will fortify those people of Lithuania who, undoubtedly, share your view of the kind of country you want Lithuania to be. At the same time, you will send a powerful signal to those whose goals are to undermine that vision by their hate motivated acts.
Less than three months ago, the Lithuanian Jewish community expressed its “deep concern regarding the increase in instances of anti-Semitism” and “the obvious unwillingness of some politicians and civil servants” to condemn it. You have now responded positively to their concern. We trust you will take the necessary additional action to demonstrate that Lithuania’s leadership is committed to the struggle against bias, hate and bigotry.
We stand ready to support and assist you in your continuing efforts.
Glen S. Lewy National Chairman
Abraham H. Foxman National Director
cc: H.E. Audrius Bruzga, Ambassador of the Republic of Lithuania to the United States