Has “In Geveb” Done it Again?




OPINION | YIDDISH AFFAIRS | MEDIA WATCH | YIDDISH AS EAST EUROPEAN POLITICAL TOY

VILNIUS—Yet again, “The Editors” (which editors?) of the lofty online academic Yiddish studies journal “In geveb” have omitted mention of Defending History and of publications by any of its editors or contributors (except for occasional unsigned disparaging remarks on papers published, unbecoming of academic discourse). The context this time is a bibliography-style list of articles and opinion pieces that have appeared online concerning Yivo’s tragic recent decision to fire its entire library staff. The one omission in the list of articles? Defending History’s response to Yivo’s actions, titled: “Chelm or New York? Yivo Fires All its Librarians, While Investing ‘Fortune’ in PR for Lithuanian Government’s Jewish Politics.”  Hopefully, it was an oversight.

Hopefully too, it has nothing to do with some of the academic bigwigs atop the vaulted towers of “In geveb” having themselves last summer (and on other occasions) been instrumentalized and manipulated by the Lithuanian government “Jewish issues” units. Last summer’s conference was perfectly contemporaneous with (and helped mute media concern over) the unveiling of a new central Vilnius plaque glorifying a major local Holocaust collaborator. Other events, medals, awards, invitations to boards and junkets have been used to cover for projects to build commercial property (including now a national convention center) on Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery. One common denominator is exclusion of all local Jewish and non-Jewish scholars who have ever dared disagree with these government units.

Does “In geveb” (‘Web of Intrigue?’) exist for the glorification and personal power politics of some JTS veterans (and their Lithuanian junkets), with exclusion of colleagues internationally who are not among the sycophants or puppets of East European manipulation of Yiddish studies?

Surely this cannot be the wish of the sponsoring Naomi Prawer Kadar Foundation that does so much for living Yiddish language and culture internationally. Indeed, when time came for the inaugural Yivo lecture in dear Naomi’s memory back in 2011 (just before Yivo’s public shift to  becoming the Lithuanian government prime Jewish PR purveyor), the choice for speaker was Defending History’s editor.

Times change.

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