Saturday, June 28, 2008

Europe's Shameful Honoring (sic) of Vilnius?

This article in the Jewish Daily Forward (of the US, one assumes) suggests that Vilnius does not deserve the title of European Capital of Culture.

It's linked to the continuing difficult relationship between Lithuanians and Jews (I know, I know, I go on about it often enough), the murder of 200,000 Jews in the holocaust helped by Lithuanian collaborators, the lack of restoration of Jewish community property, the march by the neo-nazis on Independence Day in March (they walked past my house, I was there), and that continuing debate about the former Jewish cemetery on which was built, by the Soviets, a sports complex, and now housing.

Which is all fair enough.

Some of these things foreign Jews are more fussed about than Lithuanian
ones, but maybe Lithuanian Jews prefer to keep their collective heads down? And I know Lithuania is far too intolerant of minorities, be they of the 'racial' or the 'sexual' variety. The appointment of fiercely heterosexual mayor Juozas Imbrazas to Vilnius city council has not really helped either.

But still, I think the author is going just a little too far. The capital of culture is about more than just minority cultures, though of course the event must be inclusive. No doubt about it. I believe also that during the capital of culture year a huge Litvak (foreign Jews of Lithuanian origin) congress will take place. They can complain then.

The decision to award the status to Vilnius was made in about 2005, when we still had the good Arturas Zuokas as mayor. Alea iacta est, as Cesar used to say in Asterix.