C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000074
DEPT FOR EUR/OHI
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2019
TAGS: PHUM OSCE KDEM LH
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT REPEATEDLY FAILS TO CONDEMN
REF: A. 08VILNIUS472
Classified By: Ambassador John A. Cloud for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
Â¶1. (U) Summary: Anti-Semitic vandalism still occurs
frequently in Lithuania without drawing public condemnation
from the GOL despite its responsibility to do so as an OSCE
member state. Lithuania is scheduled to take the OSCE chair
in 2011. End summary.
Â¶2. (U) In January 2009 alone, at least four incidents of
anti-Semitic vandalism were reported in towns across
Lithuania, with no reaction from the government.
Anti-Semitic (as well as anarchist and anti-Christian)
graffiti were painted on a Catholic church in Vilnius on
January 16. Swastikas and "Kill Jews" were scrawled on the
Jewish community building in Klaipeda on January 19. In
Panevezys, the sign denoting the location of the Jewish
community's office inside a school building has repeatedly
been vandalized and stolen, most recently on January 9. And
in Joniskis, "Juden Raus" -- German for "Jews Out" -- was
spraypainted on the plywood wall surrounding the town's
disused synagogue on January 21.
Â¶3. (C) As explicitly noted in the OSCE's Berlin Declaration,
GOL officials must speak out strongly and immediately when
acts of anti-Semitism or intolerance occur. Lithuania is
slated to serve as OSCE chair in 2011. Counselor Saulius
Jaskelevicius, the MFA official who monitors Jewish issues,
told us the GOL was aware of the January incidents but had
thus far chosen to remain silent. It did so, he said, in
order not to allow the vandals, whom he speculated were
"maybe even an organized group that travels around Lithuania
trying to incite people against Jews," to achieve their goal
of "trying to attract political attention."
Â¶4. (U) Comment: The silence is in keeping with the GOL's
history of failure to clearly and quickly speak out against
anti-Semitism and in favor of the tolerance and human rights
that Lithuania committed itself to as a member of the OSCE
and other Western institutions. It also shows that the GOL
does not understand how every instance of silence erodes its
international standing. Last year, after the GOL's slow
response to a skinhead march in Vilnius (ref A), Post
reminded GOL officials at several levels on several occasions
that they must condemn such events. In August 2008, top GOL
officials were quick to condemn anti-Semitic vandalism in
Vilnius and Panevezys (ref B). That progress appears to have
been short-lived. End comment.