Should Lithuanians wear Jew masks for carnival?

A debate is raging in Lithuania over carnival : following a long-established tradition many revellers wear masks meant to depict Jews. The chairman of the strongest party in parliament also used an image of such a mask on an invitation welcoming people to a party in his village. Commentators voice indignation over this old tradition.

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15min (LT) /

Not just a harmless costume

Lithuania should finally put an end to this anti-Semitic tradition, the web portal 15min demands:

“What does it mean to dress up wearing a mask representing a Jew? This is not just dressing up. Every Lithuanian should be reminded of the past and the way we treated these so-called foreigners back then. … Isn't it time we left the old farmers' traditions out of our carnival celebrations? Isn't it time to chase away xenophobia and the lack of critical thinking along with the winter? Today's Lithuania should never again bring out the masks of Jews and gypsies. We must understand that these minorities are integrated in our state.”

Lietuvos žinios (LT) /

Just take off your masks!

Traditions that debase others should not be preserved, philosopher and former ambassador to the Vatikan Vytautas Ališauskas writes in the daily Lietuvos žinios:

“The question is simple: if this so-called tradition offends Jews, the only decent course is to abolish it. I've heard the Israeli ambassador demand this this year as well as last year. I've seen how my Jewish friends were disgusted and offended by the images on Facebook. Should we not remember the Bible here, in which it is written that we must treat others as we would like to be treated? ... Do you really believe that refusing to wear a mask that humiliates Jews, Roma or other groups makes me less Lithuanian? Do I lose my identity because of this? For goodness' sake, just stop it.”