August 19: Lithuania's position

Lithuanian ambassador responds to "Yad Vashem blasts Lithuania for Holocaust revisionism, anti-Semitism," (August 12).

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Lithuania's position Sir, - The Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania would like to draw your attention to the Lithuanian leaders' position concerning any expression of anti-Semitism ("Yad Vashem blasts Lithuania for Holocaust revisionism, anti-Semitism," August 12). When the act of vandalism was perpetrated against the Lithuanian Jewish community building, President Valdas Adamkus stated that "the contempt targeted at the nation which has suffered from genocide is not casual hooliganism. It is a destructive and sordid act against Lithuania as a whole, not only Lithuania's Jewish community. I underline that there is no, and will never be, room for hatred and instigation of discord in Lithuanian society. I have no doubt the organizers and perpetrators of the act will be identified and punished. At the time when the traditions of tolerance and respect for human rights are being consolidated in Lithuania and when Lithuania is helping other states to consolidate freedom and democratic values, I consider such disreputation of our country a harsh provocation against Lithuania. I call on all people of Lithuania to be intolerant to the instigation of hatred whatever form it may take." Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas sharply condemned the acts of vandalism when swastikas and other offensive signs were sprayed on the walls of the Jewish community center in Vilnius. "Lithuanian citizens of Jewish origin have substantially contributed to the fame of our native country. The Holocaust tragedy during the war years should remind us all how disastrous the policy of racial and ethnic hatred can be." On August 11 Finance Minister Rimantas Sadzius, who was acting prime minister during Gediminas Kirkilas's summer holidays, made a phone call to Simonas Alperavieius, chairman of the Lithuanian Jewish community, and expressed his solidarity with the community concerning the malicious attack. He also called upon Police Commissioner General Vizgirdas Telyèënas to investigate the incident and find the perpetrators as soon as possible. The police are now conducting its investigation in close cooperation with other law enforcement institutions that have come across similar incidents before. We sincerely hope that these facts will find reflection in your newspaper. ASTA SKAISGIRYTE LIAUSKIENE Ambassador Republic of Lithuania Tel Aviv Serving Iran's interest Sir, - Re: "Israel and Iran: A bridge too far?" (Elsewhere, August 18). While history can teach, when distorted it can blind the reader into adopting false policies. As a fellow political scientist, I would like to enlighten your readers so that they will see what the "prominent Teheran political scientist" is really up to when he declares that "Israel must take steps to bring its nuclear program in line with the UN nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty." He is in fact, serving the Iranian interest to strip Israel of that one ultimate deterrent it still maintains to ward off her enemies, first and foremost Iran, its arch enemy, no matter how many false historical comparisons he would like to apply to prove the opposite. After all, his reference to the good times in Israel-Iran relations, when Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews "to return to their homeland and to build the Temple in Jerusalem," has got nothing to do with the current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who wants to see that same Jewish homeland destroyed and brought into the fold of Islam. But then King Cyrus had never heard of Islam, a civilization established about 1,000 years after his famous edict of 538 BCE liberating the Jews of Persia/Iran. DR. LILY POLLIACK Jerusalem Where to cut Sir, - Israel must be the only democratic country where the civil servants at the Finance Ministry decide the annual budget instead of the government as a whole ("Knesset committee warns against defense budget cuts," August 17). If there are to be budget cuts, I have a few suggestions to offer: Cut the president's, prime minister's, ministers', MKs', directors-general and department heads salaries by 10 percent. Let ministers have one office only in the capital. Allow overseas travel only on special missions. Charge all private phone calls, especially on cellphones, against their salaries. And enforce a minimum period of two years for civil servants to work in a related field in private industry. MENACHEM DAYAGI Tel Aviv Beating the bear Sir, - Russia does not seem to forget that a quarter of a century ago an engineer Lech Walesa from the then Lenin shipyard in Gdansk with his workers' union Solidarity conquered the Russian bear and kicked the oppressors out from Poland - without firing a single shot ("Russia threatens Poland with attack over US missile deal," August 17). Other European countries achieved courage to do the same. Walesa later became Poland's president and today, as a retiree, lectures all over the world about freedom. Now, with American help, Poland wants to safeguard its own and others territorial integrity. Russia, the loser, threatens this nation even with nuclear strikes. Poland has been divided three times (by Austria, Prussia and Russia) and, like Israel, was without statehood for a long time. This year Poland celebrates its 90th anniversary of its rebirth and Israel celebrates its 60th birthday. The industrious and freedom loving Polish people will not succumb to Russia's revived superpower roar. They'll keep singing: "Jeszcze Polska nie zginela" - "Poland is not yet lost." HILLEL GOLDBERG Jerusalem Caving in Sir, - The government plans to transfer ownership of the land on which Jerusalems' St. Sergius Church stands to Russia in the coming weeks ("Government to transfer ownership of disputed Jerusalem property to Russia," August 14). This follows a tete-a-tete between Ehud Olmert and Vladimir Putin, both temporary figures setting a permanent and worrying precedent. This land was purchased from the Kruschev government in 1964 in exchange for citrus fruit. The Russians now claim this was not legitimate, and Olmert has caved in to Putin without consulting the Knesset. What have the Russians ever done for Israel that requires goodwill, for that is what this is. It is not a legal requirement, but it will be irreversible. In 1867 Czar Alexander II sold Alaska to the US for $7,200,000 - less than two cents an acre. What chance do you think Russia would stand if it said that deal was not legiitimate and demanded it be annulled. JEFFREY MARLOWE Leeds Sir, - I loved Rochelle Mass' article "Redefined" (UPFront, August 8). I came to Israel from Montreal in 1960 and no one could pronounce my name properly. I am called Sunny. So instead of being called by my name, everyone called me "Sony." I got tired of that and so I started having people call me Sema, my Jewish name. However, I never answered them as I really didn't know who Sema was and wouldn't turn around when called. After having people tell me I must be deaf since I never answered them as I was not really ready to identify with Sema, I decided that I must educate them to pronounce my name properly and finally they did. I so know how she feels about not keeping her name. I am defined by Sunny - as I really am that type of person. Certainly not a Sema SUNNY HOLTZMAN Tel Aviv