Lithuanian MP’s post about Israel draws condemnation as antisemitic

Lithuanian MP Remigijus Žemaitaitis has attracted controversy with a Facebook post criticising Israel. Several ambassadors have slammed his statements, while prosecutors have opened a probe into suspected antisemitism.

Žemaitaitis, who is a member of the Freedom and Justice party and sits in the parliament with the mixed group of MPs, posted a news story about a Palestinian school demolished by Israel in the West Bank.

“It turns out that we have other animals in the world besides Putin, and it’s ISRAEL,” the politician commented in the post. “One is destroying schools with tanks, and the other one is using tractors.”

He added that Israel’s actions “increase the anger and, at the same time, the hatred towards Jews and their nation” and quoted an antisemitic rhyme that translates roughly as: “A Jew was climbing a ladder and accidentally fell off. Take a stick, kids, and kill that little Jew.”

“After such events [Israel demolishing Palestinian school], no wonder that there appear sayings like this,” Žemaitaitis commented.

Israeli Ambassador to Lithuania Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein condemned his statements on Monday, saying it may “legitimise antisemitic attitudes”.

“While we respect the freedom of expression, we stress that criticism of Israel’s actions and policies is one thing, but clearly antisemitic comments are a total different matter,” the Israeli diplomat said in the statement.

“Using this opportunity, MP Žemaitaitis is seeking to legitimise anti-Semitic attitudes and the crackdown on Jews. We strongly condemn this comment by the member of the Seimas and all forms of antisemitism and hatred,” she said.

German Ambassador Matthias Sonn has also denounced the politician’s statement, calling it “rabidly and violently antisemitic”.

The Vilnius District Prosecutor’s Office said it opened a pre-trial investigation into possible hate speech in Žemaitaitis’ Facebook post.

“The investigation was launched following an assessment of MP Remigijus Žemaitaitis’ Facebook post, which may contain forms of antisemitism and the spread of hatred,” the prosecutors said in a statement.

Žemaitaitis said that he did not consider his post to be hate speech and that he would not delete it.


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