At the end of every winter, Lithuanians celebrate the end of the season with a local holiday. However, Jewish Lithuanians claim that the anti-Semitic characteristics of the holiday have become more apparent in recent years.

The invitation to the festival in Naisiai

The invitation to the festival in Naisiai Photo Credit: Facebook/Channel 2 News

Residents of a Lithuanian city are outraged after an invitation to a local holiday festival featured characters and elements heavily associated with Nazi propaganda. As part of a local holiday, the Lithuanian citizens take to the streets to mark the end of winter but according to Jewish Lithuanians, the anti-Semitic propaganda methods used to advertise the festival have increased in recent years.

Head of the Jewish community in Naisiai Paina Kokliansy was angry when she saw that the head of the city’s culture committee published an invitation to the holiday festival and added to it a flyer that featured people dressed up as Jews.

“Anti-Semitism isn’t a passing phenomenon,” Kokliansy stated. “You can find it in the daily media and in the invitation to the festival.” Israeli Ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon criticized the use of anti-Semitic propaganda in the flyer. “We are slowly moving toward taking the Jewish culture out of the darkness but there is a long road ahead of us,” he said.

The anti-Semitic flyer

The anti-Semitic flyer Photo Credit: Facebook/Channel 2 News

“There’s a holiday like this throughout Europe,” Viki Lev, a Lithuanian who immigrated to Israel, told Channel 2 News Online. “They are supposedly getting rid of the winter but in Lithuania, there are various characters: witches, gypsies, the devil and the Jews. They display there all of the stereotypes in an anti-Semitic and very offensive way.

Lev explained that most of the residents in the city believe that there is nothing anti-Semitic about the way that the holiday is advertised. She said that some even say: “The Jews are trying to steal our holiday.” Lev added that in most cases of anti-Semitism, the Jewish community members prefer not to respond in order to not draw attention to themselves. “It wasn’t always like this,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to raise a Jewish child in Lithuania today. I wouldn’t be able to explain to him what is happening. Sentences like, ‘let’s take a stick and beat a Jew,’ are sentences that you hear there.”