Lithuanian lawmaker in hot water after quoting song urging kids to kill Jews

Reacting to Israel’s razing of a Palestinian school, right-wing politician says local and Israeli Jews are to blame for antisemitism

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

Lithuanian lawmaker Remigijus Žemaitaitis stands in the Seimas, thee national parliament, in 2019. (Courtesy of the Order and Justice party)
Lithuanian lawmaker Remigijus Žemaitaitis stands in the Seimas, thee national parliament, in 2019. (Courtesy of the Order and Justice party)

A Lithuanian lawmaker inveighed on Facebook against Jewish support for Israel and alleged communist sympathies, ending his rant with a quote from an antisemitic nursery rhyme encouraging children to kill a wounded Jew.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Sionyte on Friday called for an impeachment inquiry to be launched into the May 8 Facebook post by Remigijus Žemaitaitis of the small, right-wing Order and Justice party. Israeli Ambassador Hadas Wittenberg called his remarks “shocking” and added that they seek to legitimize antisemitism.

The original post by Žemaitaitis was about the May 8 demolition of a structure built with EU funding in the West Bank, which had served as a school for Palestinian children. Israel said the building did not have the necessary permits.

“Apparently, for our journalist and local Lithuanian Jews, the demolition of schools in Palestine is yet another pastime?! On a similar principle, Putin is having fun in Ukraine with the local schoolchildren and their future,” Žemaitaitis wrote, according to a translation by the website Defending History, a watchdog enterprise on Nazi glorification and antisemitism in Lithuania.

In the post, Žemaitaitis used a diminutive, derogatory form to refer to Jews and also called Jews Druzhinniki, a term used for volunteer police in the former Soviet Union, which is reviled in Lithuania.

A former part of the USSR, Lithuania’s national historical institute today defines Soviet domination of Lithuanian territory as a war crime. Lithuanians who collaborated with the Nazis, including in the killing of Jews, are celebrated as heroes in Lithuania, often thanks to their efforts to oppose Soviet Communism.

Žemaitaitis ended his post by suggesting that the conduct of Jews is the cause of antisemitism. “After such events, one must no longer wonder, why such sayings were born: ‘A Jew was climbing a ladder and accidentally fell. Children, take a stick and kill that Jew,’” wrote Žemaitaitis, quoting a nursery rhyme.

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