Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the famed Nazi-hunter and Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, warned that a rising tide of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe is being largely ignored, even as white supremacist rallies in the West draw extensive coverage.
“The neo-Nazi demonstrations in the US definitely raise the level of fear among blacks and Jews, but practically speaking, they [American neo-Nazis] do not pose a threat, statistically speaking. Of course it is horrible to see swastika flags, but that’s a problem in the world’s biggest democracy, which has freedom of speech.”
“In smaller countries, however, like Lithuania or Latvia, the government’s ability to act against [neo-Nazis] is limited, and [in Eastern Europe] there is really a serious threat to the Jewish community.”
Even Israeli leaders, Zuroff said, seem to show disproportionate focus on demonstrations by white supremacists in the West, while all but ignoring the far more dangerous growth of neo-Nazism in Eastern Europe.
“It seems that these [Israeli] politicians who were quick to speak with the media in response to what happened in [Charlottesville] perhaps did so in order to get themselves a headline; but I would really expect them to respond to similar incidents that have already happened in Eastern European countries, yet in those cases there is Israeli silence.”
Zuroff added that the spread of Holocaust denial in much of Eastern Europe had fueled visceral hatred of Jews and other groups.
“Two years ago I was at neo-Nazi marches in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. There were really disturbing statements made at the [marches] like ‘We don’t want Jews here’, ‘we don’t want the Gypsies’. I would have expected the Israeli embassy to act and respond with its opinion on the marches. Unlike in the US, the Baltic states aren’t acting against these kinds of incidents.”