MP keeps seat on National Security Committee despite «clever Jews» outburst

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A Latvian member of parliament who caused a storm of negative headlines in Israel and elsewhere with his comments about "clever Jews" undermining Latvia's security kept his place as deputy head of the parliament's National Security Committee Wednesday.

However, Karlis Serzants, a member of the Greens and Farmers Union political group that is one of three current government coalition partners said he was "ready to apologize" for his outburst - though he stopped short of actually apologizing.

As previously reported by LSM a month ago, Serzants was responsible for a remarkable outburst in which he made it clear people of "Jewish ethnicity" were particularly adept at operating on the fringes of the law.

The comments on March 10 created a wave of negative publicity in international media just days before a controversial March 16 parade which itself brings the question of Latvia's relations with its Jewish minority to the fore.

Latvia's Regional Alliance MP Martins Bondars raised the affair with the National Security Committee on Wednesday but Serzants survived two votes during which he went so far as to vote for himself to stay on the committee - a practice sometimes regarded as bad form.

"I acknowledge my error," Serzants said during the hearing, explaining that he had "read one or two articles" on his way to the interview in question that had inflamed his feelings.

"Identifying people according to their ethnicity was not correct, and I certainly am willing to apologize to Latvian Jews and all the world's Jews," he added.

Following the vote Bondars told LSM he was disappointed that National Security Committee chairwoman Solvita Aboltina had abstained from the vote, effectively backing Serzants.

He added that Serzants' offer to apologize was far too late.

"He had a whole month to dissociate himself from his statements. He did not," said Bondars.. 

Serzants, formerly the presenter of a TV true crime show, is also a member of the Saeima's Defense, Internal Affairs and Corruption Prevention Committee and the parliamentary group for cooperation with the Israeli parliament, among others.

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