Free Speech & Democracy

Curious History of a Yiddish Professorship at Vilnius University & its “Vilnius Yiddish Institute”


UPDATED


YIDDISH AND JUDAIC STUDIES MANIPULATED FOR HOLOCAUST REVISIONISM  | VILNIUS YIDDISH INSTITUTE  |  BORNS JEWISH STUDIES PROGRAM AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY  |  RICHARD MAULLIN

Its Prehistory (1990-1999), History (1999-2010) and Posthistory (2010-2018) from the Year of Lithuania’s Declaration of Independence Onward

CAN GOVERNMENT AGENCIES STILL WRITE INDIVIDUALS OUT OF HISTORY IN POST-SOVIET SPACE? DO VILNIUS UNIVERSITY’S DEANS AND RECTOR APPROVE OF THE PRACTICE? CAN A PAST PROFESSOR WITH A PERFECT RECORD OVER 11 YEARS (NO COMPLAINTS, NO INCIDENTS) BE WRITTEN OUT OF THE UNIVERSITY’S HISTORY AND DEFAMED IN THE UNIVERSITY’S NAME ON ORDERS OF SOMEONE AT THE “INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION FOR THE EVALUATION OF THE CRIMES OF THE NAZI AND SOVIET REGIMES IN LITHUANIA” (THE “RED-BROWN COMMISSION“)?

A “for the record” page in progress, developed in response to repeated public statements by the current director of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, a member of the state-sponsored Commission on Nazi and Soviet crimes, claiming that Defending History’s editor (a) was never a professor at the university, (b) if he was an elementary Yiddish alphabet teacher paid by some surfers in California, he got fired for not turning up to work. Further documents are being processed for inclusion in the bizarre but curiously telling chapter of the history of Yiddish Studies in the 21st century. The political manipulation (ranging from West European far-left to East European far-right) of Yiddish-less “Yiddish” is a theme in the final chapter of Yiddish and Power (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) by the Yiddishist in question, Dovid Katz.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Bloomington-Borns Program Manipulated?, Free Speech & Democracy, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Richard Maullin, Views of Mr. Ronaldas Račinskas, Views of Prof. Sarunas Liekis, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Yiddish Affairs | Comments Off on Curious History of a Yiddish Professorship at Vilnius University & its “Vilnius Yiddish Institute”

A Lithuanian Jewish Citizen on Why Jewish Life is Divided into “Before” vs. “After” 19 April 2017



OPINION  |  LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY LIFE 

by Arkady Kurliandchik

Arkady Kurliandchik

On the 19th of April 2017, an event transpired that seems to have divided, from the viewpoint of time, our life as Jewish citizens of Lithuania. We were left with two new categories: before and after. Before and after the day when our democratic community’s leadership, in the middle of a community election campaign, changed the rules to disenfranchise the living three thousand or so Jews in the country in favor of a new electoral system based on the votes of the current chairwoman’s own board that would from now on mean that “the official” Jewish community represents not the Jewish people of Lithuania. It represents the people on that board and their “associations,” whether real or not.

To tell the truth, our Jewish community collectively, and each of us individually felt deeply humiliated with that imperious power-hungry arrogance. This historical action was carried out by a small group of  power-hungry plotters who usurped that which had been held with human dignity by our Jewish self-government here. This clique of usurpers, in a single meeting, “changed the election rules” to deprive the Jews of Lithuania of the right to vote on issues related to communal Jewish life. What has happened will go down as a black chapter in the history of Jews in Eastern Europe.

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on A Lithuanian Jewish Citizen on Why Jewish Life is Divided into “Before” vs. “After” 19 April 2017

Could Lithuania’s Major Freedom of Speech Lapse be on Questions of History?


(UPDATED)

FREEDOM OF SPEECH  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  LITHUANIA  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—The international uproar over Poland’s 2018 law criminalizing certain opinions about World War II and the Holocaust has led to coverage in mainstream mass media internationally (our own take). What seems to have been largely lost is that other East European countries have for many years been passing laws criminalizing opinions on these matters, laws that are arguably much worse, because they go beyond state anger at stereotyping or historic accusation to criminalizing opposition to a false narrative of history, specifically the Double Genocide model espoused by the nationalist establishment in much of Eastern Europe, particularly the Baltics and Ukraine. Such laws have been passed in Hungary (2010, maxing out at three years potential imprisonment), Lithuania (2010, two years), Latvia (2014, five years max) and Ukraine (2015, ten years). Then there was Estonia’s particularly curious “Valentine Day’s Law” of 2012. It could well be, that the parliamentarians who came up with the idea in Lithuania long before passage were the most honest about the motives. They made it clear that “in the Lithuanian legal system, acts regarding the crimes of Soviet genocide, i.e., their denial or justification, are not criminalized, and, experts say, this is an obstacle in attempting to equate the crimes of Soviet genocide with the Nazi genocide.”

JUMP TO 2018

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Could Lithuania’s Major Freedom of Speech Lapse be on Questions of History?

Lithuanian Defense Ministry’s “PR” Includes Disparagement of Rimvydas Valatka and Evaldas Balčiūnas over their Opposition to State Glorification of a Holocaust Collaborator



OPINION  | FREE SPEECH AND DEMOCRACY  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Editor’s note: The following Letter to Colleagues shared by Dr. Kulikauskas is followed by his own follow-up letter in Lithuanian to the office to which he was directed.

Dear Colleagues,

A colleague alerts us to the following anonymous presentation by the Lithuanian National Defense Ministry’s Strategic Communications Department and Public Relations’ Planning and Analysis Division on “The War for Hearts and Minds”, “Karas dėl širdžių ir protų”

This Department

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Collaborators Glorified, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Comments Off on Lithuanian Defense Ministry’s “PR” Includes Disparagement of Rimvydas Valatka and Evaldas Balčiūnas over their Opposition to State Glorification of a Holocaust Collaborator

My Seven Long Years with Jonas Noreika (“General Storm”)



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Editor’s note: Seven years ago,  journalist, researcher and ethicist Evaldas Balčiūnas, who was born, raised and continues to live in Lithuania, began his remarkable series of articles on state “heroes” who were alleged Holocaust collaborators (or perpetrators) with his 2012 essay on Jonas Noreika (“General Storm”), published in Lithuanian and the same year, in English in Defending History. As a result, Mr.  Balčiūnas (bal-CHOO-nass) was subjected to years of legal harassment and persecution by prosecutors, police, and assorted far-right “plaintiffs” (please scroll down to 22 May 2014 in the Balčiūnas section to follow the saga). The Defending History community is proud to have stood by Evaldas at each of the kangaroo trial hearings in Vilnius, and is delighted that all these years later, talented American campaigners with wherewithal have taken up the cause to major good effect, and have now brought the Noreika matter to the Vilnius courts (see report on 15th January  hearing). We hope that our American friends and colleagues will see their way clear to fully crediting Evaldas Balčiūnas’s work (and noting its consequences for him) on the various new websites and blogs established, including, for starters, the excellent online Captain Jonas Noreika Museum.

The first time I heard of Jonas Noreika was back in 1993. I was chatting with Petras Dargis in the editorial room of the newspaper where I worked, here in Šiauliai, northwestern Lithuania, when a man of short stature came in. He started to scold one of the reporters for his article on Jonas Noreika. These were the times — right after the Soviet system’s collapse — when various colleagues and friends were going through the deepest corners of their memory, looking for all sorts of bits and pieces of their past struggles and sufferings.

This was particularly the case when that which was perceived by some as “their battles” or perhaps even their “glorious episodes” amounted to extraordinary suffering for others. First, Noreika’s comrades came to the editorial office and told of glorious episodes of the (so-called) Uprising of June 1941, incarceration in Stutthof, and the post-war legend of General Vėtra (Noreika’s famous nom-de-guerre which translates: General Storm). The journalist published the story, referring to respectable historical sources.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Free Speech & Democracy, History, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Memoirs, News & Views, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on My Seven Long Years with Jonas Noreika (“General Storm”)

Will Latvia’s New Cabinet Share European Values When it Comes to Condemnation of Fascism?



OPINION  |  LATVIA  |  RIGA PRO-NAZI MARCHES  |  PRO-NAZI MARCHES  |  FREE SPEECH

by Aleksandr Kuzmin (Riga)

The annual marches of March the 16th in Riga, Latvia, honor veterans of the local Waffen SS legion. These marches, sponsored by the co-ruling National Alliance, are consistently criticized by bodies of the European Union, the United Nations, and the Council of Europe. The most recent criticism came from the European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2018 on the rise of neo-fascist violence in Europe:

“AC. whereas every year on 16 March thousands of people gather in Riga for Latvian Legion Day to honor Latvians who served in the Waffen-SS;”

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Posted in Aleksandr Kuzmin, Collaborators Glorified, Free Speech & Democracy, Latvia, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Riga's Waffen SS Marches | Tagged , | Comments Off on Will Latvia’s New Cabinet Share European Values When it Comes to Condemnation of Fascism?

Vilnius Jewish Community Calls for New Democratic Elections



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  DEMOCRACY  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—The elected leadership of the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) today published on its website, and on its Facebook page, an English version of the Lithuanian original that appeared on 10 October on the website as well as, on the same date, in the form of a Baltic News Service (BNS) press release, providing the contact name of Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), chair of the community and one of its twenty-one member elected council. The VJC, representing the more than 2,000 Jews of Vilnius in affiliation with groups in Šiauliai, Klaipeda and others, represents the vast majority of today’s living Jewish citizens in Lithuania. In fact, its electoral conference of May 2017 was the largest electoral conference of Jewish citizens in Lithuania this century.

“And most importantly […], to provide new elections for the chairpersonship of the Lithuanian Jewish Community in accordance with the honest rules that have been in place for many years, taking into account the votes of all the Jews of Lithuania, and not the ‘associations’  of ‘close friends’ who are themselves dependent for funding on the grace of the chairperson.”

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Jewish Community Calls for New Democratic Elections

Poland’s New Holocaust Law is Bad — But Not the Worst



OPINION  |  POLAND  |  FREE SPEECH

by Dovid Katz

in today’s Jewish Currents

So what happened on January 31st? The new law, adopted by both houses of the Polish parliament and then enacted on March 1st, warns that, “Whoever claims, publicly and contrary to the facts, that the Polish Nation or the Republic of Poland is responsible or co-responsible for Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich […] or for other felonies that constitute crimes against peace, crimes against humanity or war crimes, or whoever otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the true perpetrators of said crimes […] shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment for up to three years. The sentence shall be made public.”

The law is in some sense an overreaction to some common mischaracterizations of Poland’s role in the Holocaust, starting with the myth that Hitler chose to build concentration camps there because Poland was so antisemitic. He built them there because that is where the Jews were, more than three million of them. Nor did the Nazis generally recruit Poles to do the actual killing of Jews, as was the case in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and (western) Ukraine, among others. There were, to be sure, atrocities committed by Poles, such as the 1941 massacre of the Jews of Jedwabne—powerfully researched and immortalized by Jan Gross in his masterly 2001 book, Neighbors—and the unthinkable pogrom at Kielce, in 1946, just months after the end of the Holocaust.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Dovid Katz, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, News & Views, Poland, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Poland’s New Holocaust Law is Bad — But Not the Worst

Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) Issues Historic Statement Calling for Free Democratic Elections for Lithuania’s Jews



DOCUMENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—The Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) today issued the following authoritative English language text of its statement following the Vilnius District Court’s decision of 21 December 2017 (earlier versions appeared in Lithuanian and Russian). The following is the text as it appeared today on the VJC’s Facebook page. Since the court ruling there have been media reports in Defending History, JTA, Times of Israel, Forward, and various other outlets.

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Posted in Documents, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) Issues Historic Statement Calling for Free Democratic Elections for Lithuania’s Jews

Vilnius District Court Nullifies LJC Head’s Spring 2017 “Election”



DOCUMENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—In her ruling issued earlier today, Vilnius District Court Judge Rima Bražinskienė, following up on her crucial 29 May 2017 judgment, confirmed the illegality of last April’s mid-campaign rule change by the board of the “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community” which effectively disenfranchised the 2,200 members of the Vilnius Jewish community (as well as the Jewish people in the other. smaller communities) by replacing the long-standing proportional voting system with an oligarchic system giving one vote to each board member (most of whom have allegedly received professional, promotional or financial benefits from the funds of the “Good Will Foundation” that finances the community). As a result, the capacity of the Holocaust-remnant Jewish community of Lithuania to democratically choose its leadership was in one tragic fell swoop annulled in favor of a system that gave that authority to a roomful of wannabe-oligarchs, some of whom hold two or three votes each. The large corpus of protests include last summer’s letter from twenty of the elected members of the Vilnius Jewish Community’s council and a more recent article by Professor Josifas Parasonis.

JUMP TO UPDATES

The court action asking for relief was brought by the Vilnius Jewish Community as plaintiff. Its 21 member council was elected last May 24th in the largest Jewish electoral assembly in Lithuania this century with meticulous voting open to all community members. Today’s ruling includes the text:

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Posted in Documents, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius District Court Nullifies LJC Head’s Spring 2017 “Election”

PEN America Protests Ban and Proposed Pulping of Ruta Vanagaite’s Books in Lithuania, Including Book on the Holocaust



FREE SPEECH  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

PEN America released this statement on its website today:

NEW YORK—The decision by the Alma Littera publishing house to cut all ties with their author Ruta Vanagaite, and to remove remaining copies of all of her five books from circulation and pulp them, is a troubling overreaction and should be reconsidered, said PEN America today.

The publisher’s decision to remove and destroy all of Vanagaite’s books was a response to her recent criticism of Adolfas Ramanauskas, a Lithuanian nationalist widely perceived as a hero. Vanagaite previously touched on sensitive historical issues in her most recent book, Mūsiškiai (Our People), published in Lithuania in 2016, which discusses the role of Lithuanian nationalists and freedom fighters in the persecution of Jewish Lithuanians and the Holocaust during World War II. Lithuania still denies their role in WWII and the Lithuanian authorities claimed that the book jeopardized national security. The destruction and removal of Vanagaite’s books demonstrates the tight borders of what is acceptable criticism of a national hero in Lithuania. Since the publication of the book, Vanagaite has received threats, which have escalated in recent weeks; a suit against her for slander and denigration of a deceased person has also been filed with the prosecutor by a patriotic group (the prosecutor has declined to take up the case, finding no evidence of malicious intent).

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Posted in Debates on Adolfas Ramanauskas (Vanagas), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė, United States | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on PEN America Protests Ban and Proposed Pulping of Ruta Vanagaite’s Books in Lithuania, Including Book on the Holocaust

Real or Rigged ‘International Conference on Fascism and Antisemitism’ in Vilnius on 9 November?



OPINION  | HUMAN RIGHTS  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—Yet again, a conference here in the Lithuanian capital dedicated to combating fascism and antisemitism is announced, without there having been a public call for papers, without a single speaker from among those who actually combat fascism and antisemitism in the country, with nobody from the democratically elected Vilnius Jewish community (not even the long-time editor of Jerusalem of Lithuania who has exposed and combated antisemitism for decades). No Holocaust survivors. None of the nationally relevant questions of the day can be found on the conference program. As ever, outstanding academic personalities from abroad are recruited to lend the gravitas and provide serious papers on an array of topics (which they admirably do), as long as these have little directly to do with the actual contemporary issues here in Lithuania (but the conference introduction by Prof. Dovilė Budrytė does indeed touch on some of the issues, which seem, however, to be largely absent from the actual conference program). The last such event, in 2015, resulted in the Norwegian Embassy withdrawing support and launching an inquiry on behalf of the EEA (European Economic Area) funders of that event.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Real or Rigged ‘International Conference on Fascism and Antisemitism’ in Vilnius on 9 November?

“Weekly of Vilnius” Provides Exclusive English Language Coverage of the Vanagaitė Saga



FREE SPEECH  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUSThe Weekly of Vilnius, sometimes considered to be this city’s most prestigious English-language news publication, today released its weekly issue which contains a highly documented summary of many of the sides in the debate over author and PR specialist Ruta Vanagaitė’s comments concerning state plans to name 2018 for someone who led a pro-Nazi militia during the early days of the Lithuanian Holocaust in 1941, but who is being honored for his postwar service in the anti-Soviet resistance. Defending History has published its own take along with a much more limited summary of the debate which readers may consult for comparison and helping “complete the picture” as best as it can be in English. Note that selections of Lithuanian articles on the subject from the major news portal Delfi.lt, and from BNS (Baltic News Service), in both cases generally representing government and “nationalist establishment” positions, are available in English translation on the English Delfi.lt (Lithuania Tribune) site (search “Vanagaitė” for rapid reference).

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on “Weekly of Vilnius” Provides Exclusive English Language Coverage of the Vanagaitė Saga

Vilnius District Court’s 29 May 2017 Ruling on LJC’s Mid-Campaign Election Rule Change



DOCUMENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

Vilnius District Court Judge Rima Bražinskienė’s 29 May 2017 ruling, concerning the “official” Lithuanian Jewish Community’s mid-campaign rule change during last spring’s leadership contest, effectively disenfranchising 2,200 Jewish people of Vilnius (the vast majority of Lithuania’s Jews today) in favor of a new voting system granting effective power over the election to a roomful of “oligarchs” (some of whom have two or three votes each, i.e. two or three times as much weight as the 2,200 Jews disenfranchised) is now publicly available.

The following, for the convenience of our readers, is an English translation. Note that in the case of any query arising, the Lithuanian original is alone authoritative.

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius District Court’s 29 May 2017 Ruling on LJC’s Mid-Campaign Election Rule Change

Regional Leader of Ukraine’s Svoboda Party Threatens Jews who Disagree with a Public Monument for Pogrom-meister Petliura



 UKRAINE  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  FREE SPEECH  |  GLORIFICATION OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

As reported last week, in connection with a protest from the World Jewish Congress, authorities in Ukraine recently inaugurated a statue to Symon Petliura in the city of Vinnitsa. Petliura (1879—1926) was a Ukrainian whose troops killed tens of thousands of Jewish civilians in a devastating series of pogroms in Ukraine during the Russian Revolution and the civil war that followed it.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Free Speech & Democracy, News & Views, Ukraine | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Regional Leader of Ukraine’s Svoboda Party Threatens Jews who Disagree with a Public Monument for Pogrom-meister Petliura

Latvian Court Rules Against a Protester Who Turned Out Against the Annual Waffen SS March



FREE SPEECH  |  LATVIA  |  RIGA PRO-NAZI MARCHES  |  PRO-NAZI MARCHES

by Aleksandr Kuzmin (Riga)

On March 16, 2017, the annual march honoring Waffen SS Latvian Legion veterans took place in Riga as usual. A co-ruling political party had called the legionnaires “freedom fighters”[1], the Security Police had denounced opponents of the march as “so-called Anti-Fascists” and put them in the chapter “Manifestations of Russia’s compatriot policies in Latvia” of its annual report.[2] The counter-picket applied for by the Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee had been ordered to move farther from the march route. Again, a pretty usual development.

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Posted in Aleksandr Kuzmin, Collaborators Glorified, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Latvia, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Riga's Waffen SS Marches, Symbology | Comments Off on Latvian Court Rules Against a Protester Who Turned Out Against the Annual Waffen SS March

Whom Does the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” Board Really Represent?



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION

by Josifas Parasonis

Professor Josifas Parasonis (Vilnius Gediminas Technical University) contributed this opinion piece in Lithuanian earlier today. This translation is provided by Defending History, with Prof. Parasonis’s consent, for our readers’ information (with hyperlinks provided by DH). In the event of any query arising, the Lithuanian version alone is authoritative. Prof. Parasonis is one of the twenty-one Vilnius Jewish Community council members elected on 24 May 2017. See also the letter signed by him and nineteen others, addressed to the Good Will Foundation last July, and, in reverse chronological order, Defending History’s section on Vilnius Jewish life. DH opinion pieces represent the views of the author.

Methods of authoritarian and obtuse governance, evident for many years in the management of the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC), have recently reached the public sphere. Despite the fierce resistance and brutal interference of the chairwoman of the LJC (and, until recently, of the Vilnius Jewish Community, too) Faina Kukliansky, the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) [on 24 May 2017] organized a general conference of Vilnius Jews according to all legal procedures — with, incidentally, record-high attendance — and elected its new council [of 21 members] democratically. But the notion that Jewish people solve their problems in a wise manner, although prevalent in society, demonstrably did not take root in this case. As a former deputy chairman of the LJC (2000–2005), I feel an obligation to share my thoughts on why this has happened. It seems to me that I have a moral right to share these thoughts.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Josifas Parasonis, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Comments Off on Whom Does the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” Board Really Represent?

Vilnius Jewish Community Releases Letter Signed by 20 Elected Board Members Addressed to “Good Will Foundation”



DOCUMENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—One month ago, on 7 July 2017, twenty of the twenty-one elected board members of the Vilnius Jewish Community (the 21st was abroad) signed a full-hearted letter addressed to the Good Will Foundation, the Lithuanian government restitution fund for Jewish community survival deriving from part of the value of the communal properties owned by the annihilated religious Jewish communities of prewar Lithuania. To this date, there has been no reply from the Good Will Foundation, nor any statement from its esteemed foreign board members who represent the World Jewish Restitution Organization. The board’s co-chair is Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee, who is a recipient of a number of Lithuanian government medals over the years.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Herbert Block and Issues of Lithuanian Jewish Cemetery Preservation, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Jewish Community Releases Letter Signed by 20 Elected Board Members Addressed to “Good Will Foundation”

Dr. Jerrold A. Zoloto’s Open Letter to Ms. Kukliansky



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Jerrold A. Zoloto, PhD

The following Open Letter appeared today on Dr. Zoloto’s public Facebook page and is reposted in Defending History with the author’s permission.

We have watched in horror the events leading up to and concluding with your “election” as the leader of the Lithuanian Jewish community. Having grown up in the world’s greatest democracy, it appalls me to see how you have ruthlessly and illegally managed to maintain your power base.

I am a proud Litvak, but you would not consider me a Litvak because I do not fit your definition of a Litvak. My mother was a Litvak and my father was a Jew born in Zhitomir. I grew up with my grandmother who was born in Kaunas. My grandfather was also from Kaunas, though he had died before I was born. Yiddish and Russian were spoken in my home as I grew up. You have disenfranchised Litvaks whose native language was not Lithuanian or whose parents were not both Litvaks or who was not born and raised in Lithuania. Your rhetoric on this subject is dangerously close to that of the Nazis who tried to destroy us. Within that concept of yours, you remind me of a Kapo who will do anything to her own people to ensure her own survival.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dr. Jerrold A. Zoloto’s Open Letter to Ms. Kukliansky

Pinchos Fridberg’s Open Letter Concerning a Website Post of the Official Lithuanian Jewish Community



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—The following is an English translation (by Ludmilla Makedonskaya) of Professor Pinchos Fridberg’s article in Russian that appeared in the Vilnius-based publication Obzor on 26 May 2017. Note that the original Russian version is the only authoritative text for any issues arising. Professor Fridberg is a native of Vilna, a Holocaust survivor, a retired physics professor and the author of numerous articles and studies. For translations of a selection of his work on Defending History’s issues, in English translation, see our Pinchos Fridberg section.

For more information on the issue see the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) website report on the 24 May elections held by the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC), Defending History’s initial real-time report and rejoinder, the second version posted, the JTA report on the affair,  the subsequent LJC “apology” and Leon Kaplan’s essay on these pages.

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg | Comments Off on Pinchos Fridberg’s Open Letter Concerning a Website Post of the Official Lithuanian Jewish Community