Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?

Lithuanian Government’s Holocaust Conference in Jerusalem



by Dov Levin

This opinion piece, under the heading “Lithuanian Hypocrisy” appeared today in Haaretz. It reappears here by permission of the author, Professor Dov Levin of Jerusalem.

Last week I was caught in a debate with myself: whether or not to appear, despite the feeling of nausea, in a discussion with Lithuanian historians, writers and poets at the International Book Fair in Jerusalem. The idea made me so sick that in the end I decided to stay away and I also convinced my friend, former partisan and former chairman of Yad Vashem Yitzhak Arad, to excuse himself from the discussions.

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Foreign Minister, on eve of Jerusalem visit, explains his view of ‘red and brown’


In a wide-ranging interview (English here), Lithuania’s foreign minister remarked before his visit to Jerusalem that Nazi and Soviet crimes were indeed different, but in this sense: ‘Lithuania suffered from both, but civilized humanity universally condemned the crimes of the Nazis a long time ago, whereas the memory of the Soviet victims was neither morally nor legally assessed for a long time’.
JOHN MANN MP HONORED AT KNESSET
There is no retreat from the implicit equation of the unequatable, no comment on the unique scale of Holocaust genocide which has left Litvak Jewry on the brink of extinction; on his country’s legacy of massive collaboration; on his state agencies’ continuing defamation of elderly Holocaust survivors who joined the anti-Nazi resistance; on his ministry’s investment in the Prague Declaration and other red-brown initiatives; on the attempts to forge a single ‘state truth’ history for Europe. Hopefully, the minister, who has forcefully condemned racist, antisemitic and homophobic outbursts in the media, will now announce removal of the ‘red-equals-brown movement’ from his ministry’s agenda. Text of a public letter addressed to the foreign minister follows. Continue reading

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Deputy Foreign Minister heads ‘Fake Litvak’ working group to entice ‘Rich Litvaks’


An opposition party member of the Lithuanian Seimas (parliament) has leaked this memo (English translation here), dated 20 July 2010, which purports to be a circular letter from the deputy foreign minister, Sarunas Adomavicius, to the working group (names blocked out) of the ‘Fake Litvak’ Forum (the official name is the ‘Litvak Heritage Forum’). The Forum is viewed as a ploy to hijack Litvak identity and put it to use for government PR purposes.

The day it was announced, 15 July 2010, the prime minister’s chancellor boasted of ‘rich Litvaks’ having been found to finance it. Protests followed immediately from Holocaust Survivors of the ALJ, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Litvak Studies Institute and this website (see here). There is particular fear that it is to serve as cover  to deflect attention from the ongoing  Continue reading

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Lithuanian Parliament Declares 2011 as Year of Remembrance for Holocaust Victims; Says Nothing about Ongoing Cases Against Survivors & ‘Double Genocide’ Policies


The Seimas (parliament of Lithuania) today issued this official English version of its ‘resolution on declaring the year 2011 as the year of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania’. The succinct statement expresses ‘sincere respect for the victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania’, mentioning ‘the genocide perpetrated against Jews by Nazis and their collaborators in Lithuania during the occupation by Nazi Germany’.

It goes on, in Article 2, to propose that by 1 November 2010 there be a specific program approved, that will include  Continue reading

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Director of Yiddish Institute heading to Kazakhstan to Promote Freedom of Expression for Journalists


OR:

YIDDISH BORAT, HAVING SAVED FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IN LITHUANIA, HEADS FOR KAZAKHSTAN TO EDUCATE THE OSCE. HE ‘CLEANSED’ HIS ‘YIDDISH INSTITUTE’ OF YIDDISH FOR 11 MONTHS OF THE YEAR. . .

Sarunas Liekis, director of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute has been appointed by Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to an elite team of experts who were sent to a Review Conference in Warsaw (30 Sept — 8 Oct), in preparation for a second Review Conference in Vienna (18-26 Oct), and a third in Astana, Kazakhstan (26-28 Nov). These are all in preparation for a much larger OSCE summit scheduled for Kazakhstan that will follow on 1-2 December in Astana, that nation’s capital.

A prime theme of the OSCE summit, which marks Lithuania’s accession to the  chairmanship of OSCE, is media freedom and safety of journalists.

Details were released on 5 October by the Ministry (more here), which also put on its website this photo of the team preparing for the series of foreign trips culminating in the OSCE summit.

Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs:  ‘The True Taste of Yiddish Language and Literature  — and Litvak Culture’

This journal sincerely hopes the VYI’s director, Professor Sarunas Liekis, will report to the OSCE on the failure of Lithuanian prosecutors to abandon the lamentable investigation into his own institute’s librarian, 88 year old Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, who has, along with other Holocaust Survivors, been the victim of an ultranationalist state-sponsored campaign of defamation. Details here. These are grave violations of human rights that were duly brought to the attention of the OSCE in December 2009.

The role of the press has been vital in these sad events.

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Lithuanian Parliament’s ‘Dualism’ Strikes Again


Readers recall that the Lithuanian parliament’s 21 September proclamation of 2011 as the ‘Year of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania’ (text here) was mysteriously reincarnated one week later, on 28 September, as the ‘Year of Commemoration of the Defense of Freedom and of Great Losses’ (text here) with accompanying press explanations restricting the 1941 aspect to Soviet deportations to Siberia and no mention of the Holocaust among the ‘great losses’ (text here).

The text and press releases gave rise to fears that plans were still underway to sanitize, revise and glorify the memory of the 1941 LAF and Provisional Government collaborators of the Nazis. This painful subject was dealt with in a recent statement from the Jewish Community of Lithuania.

The ensuing History Apartheid, as this journal called it (2011 dedicated to one thing for foreigners and Jews and another for the country itself, in effect)  led to a letter to the chair of the Seimas from the head of Lithuania’s tiny but proud Jewish community (text here).

A check today of the official website of Lithuanian parliament (the Seimas) added a further curious aspect to the parliamentarians’ thinking. The English version of the website explains that 2011 has been proclaimed as the ‘Year of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania’.

The corresponding sentence on the home page of the Lithuanian version of the official Seimas website indicates however that 2011 is the designated ‘Year of Commemoration of the Defense of Freedom and of Great Losses’.

One Western diplomat who requested anonymity commented to this journal: ‘You see, if you live long enough, you live to see everything’.

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Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Believes a Jewish Conspiracy to be Pushing Proposals for Allowing Dual Citizenship


A sensational front-page story in today’s Lietuvos rytas, Lithuania’s main national daily, reports that the foreign minister, Audronius Ažubalis, told his ruling party colleagues at a meeting that ‘the new law [regarding possibilities for dual citizenship] was being pushed by Jews who seek citizenship on order to press compensation claims against the state’.

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Jewish Community of Lithuania Writes to Lithuania’s President After Foreign Minister’s Antisemitic Tirade



[AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION OF THE LITHUANIAN ORIGINAL]

This letter was approved unanimously at a meeting of the board  of directors of the Lithuanian Jewish Community on October 14, 2010, in which 21 board members participated.

To the President of the Republic of Lithuania
Ms. Dalia Grybauskaitė
15 October 2010

Your Excellency,

The Lithuanian Jewish Community wishes to express its great concern concerning the thoughts expressed by the foreign minister of the Republic of Lithuania, A. Ažubalis, which sow discord between Lithuanians and Jews.

Reports have appeared in the mass media that A. Ažubalis said that “Everyone knows very well” by whom this law (Lithuanian dual citizenship) is most needed, and explained that Jews of Lithuanian origin are the main force pushing this law to the forefront. Moreover, the politician hinted that they probably expect to regain property here more
easily in this manner.

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Lithuania’s Foreign Minister tells of Jewish Conspiracy during Discussion on Dual Citizenship


At a 13 October parliamentary meeting of the right-wing faction that governs Lithuania, the country’s Foreign Minister, Audronius Ažubalis, began a discussion of proposals to again permit dual citizenship by saying that ‘everyone knows’ who is pushing the bill in parliament. Pressed for details, he went on to explain that the culprits are foreign Jews of Litvak origin (i.e. the same precise group being targeted  for PR by his Foreign Ministry for its Fake Litvak Forum).

Slipping deeper into classic antisemitic canards, the foreign minister went on to propose that ‘they’ are doing this in order to reap financial benefits by way of property restitution that depends upon citizenship under the country’s citizenship laws that racially favor ethnic Lithuanians.

The main news report of the incident by a highly respected journalist, in the country’s main daily, Lietuvos rytas is headlined:

FOREIGN AFFAIRS STRATEGIST SEES JEWISH CONSPIRACY

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On the “Occupation Museum” in Riga


This page is contributed by Roland Binet (Belgium). © Roland Binet

See also his 10 November 2010 article in Le Monde.  English translation here.


Open Letter to the President of the European Commission

Mr JOSÉ MANUEL BARROSO, ON THE “OCCUPATION MUSEUM” OF RIGA IN LATVIA

Mr President,

Dear Mr Barroso,

I recently visited the “Occupation Museum in Riga/Latvia where I had the opportunity to see your picture — taken during your visit of that museum in 2008 — displayed on one wall of the entrance hall.

That museum prides itself on having thus welcomed a number of well-known symbolic personalities. Your persona grata is all the more important now that the EU has become an unavoidable partner in the world and, furthermore, now that Latvia has become a full member state of the European Union.

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Mr Lidington is right, but there is more to it



O P I N I O N

[Note: A revised version of this comment appeared on Alfa.lt.]

by Dovid Katz

David Lidington, Britain’s Minister for Europe, has praised the recent Lithuanian parliament vote on a (lamentably ambiguous) draft of a bill to deal with restitution of looted Jewish communal property [Details here.] In his statement, he goes on to say: “Passage of the law will bring credit to Lithuania as it prepares to assume the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). I hope that the draft will now advance successfully through its remaining stages.” [The minister’s statement is reported here; it was triumphantly reported in the Lithuanian media.]

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Does the Road from Prague to Stockholm Go Through Vilnius?


Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry announced on 14 December 2010 that it was the initiator of a new demand from six East European countries ― Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania  — to Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, that Double Genocide sentiments, and support for effective  criminalization of  the view that the Holocaust was a unique genocide, be incorporated in the new Stockholm Programme before the end of 2010. Less than a week earlier, Lithuania’s president took the same demand with her to a meeting in Brussels.

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‘Prague Declaration’ Supporters Inserting ‘Double Genocide’ in the EU’s ‘Stockholm Programme’


According to a December 14th posting on the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry’s website, (reported also on Isria.com and elsewhere), Lithuania’s foreign minister is taking the lead in the latest initiative to insert ‘Double Genocide’ into European Union law and policy, which on this occasion  includes his colleagues from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, and Romania. Other media reports here.

It becomes ever more difficult for observers of East European minority rights and Holocaust history issues to keep up, as the Holocaust Obfuscation undertones of the Prague Declaration are gradually infiltrated into the Stockholm Programme. In both cases, observers discern New Accession EU governments’ efforts to insinuate one or another incarnation of ‘Double Genocide’ (in Eurospeak: ‘equal evaluation of totalitarian regimes’) into general European Union consciousness.

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Six Countries Try to ‘Slip in’ Double Genocide in the ‘Stockholm Programme’; European Commission says ‘No’


Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry had announced on 14 December 2010 that it was the initiator of a new demand from six East European countries ― Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania  — to Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, that Double Genocide sentiments, and support for effective  criminalization of  the view that the Holocaust was a unique genocide, be incorporated in the new Stockholm Programme before the end of 2010. Less than a week earlier, Lithuania’s president took the same demand with her to a meeting in Brussels.

The Road from Prague to Stockholm (via Vilnius?)

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Clemens Heni Critiques London Conference


Dr Clemens Heni, a prominent Berlin-based scholar specializing in antisemitism, today critiques, in this journal, the 6-7 February 2011 conference in London entitled ‘No Simple Stories: Jewish-Lithuanian relations between coexistence and violence’ (conference program here; poster here). His opinion piece, “A rather simple story: Lithuania, the Jews, and the Shoah” is here.

Dr Clemens Heni

Dr Heni, a former research fellow at the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) at Yale University (USA), was arguably the first to publish an academic paper on the antisemitic aspects of the 2008 Prague Declaration. His paper, which appeared in late 2009, is available here.

Additional coverage of the London conference (6-7 February 2011): Dovid Katz on DefendingHistory.com;  Simon Rocker in the Jewish Chronicle.

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Lithuanian Jews, Holocaust Survivors, Specialists who Disagree with the Lithuanian Government — Shut Out of London Conference



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

The Holocaust Survivor community is responding with a mixture of sadness and defiance to news that the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, which actively coordinated the recent attempt (December 2010) to underpin ‘Double Genocide’ and downgrade the Holocaust in European Union law (see top story on home page), is now financing, in partnership with (naive?) parties in London, a starkly one-sided colloquium on ‘Jewish-Lithuanian Relations Between Coexistence and Violence’ on 6-7 Feb 2011 in London.

London Fog: Will the Conference be a ‘Graywash’?

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A Shameful Shoah Whitewash



O P I N I O N

by Efraim Zuroff

This comment appeared in today’s Jewish Chronicle (London) and is reposted here by the author’s permission.


A financially-strapped small Eastern European country is spending tens of thousands of pounds to sponsor an extraordinarily large number of political and cultural events ― lectures, concerts, exhibitions and films ― in London next week. Why? That is the obvious question for the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, several Lithuanian cultural institutions, and local UK partners.

Under the heading No Simple Stories; Jewish-Lithuanian relationships: facing difficult questions, the events are projected as an honest attempt to address the ostensibly complex history of Lithuania’s once very large Jewish community, which was irreparably decimated during the Holocaust — 96.4% of the 220,000 Jews who lived in Lithuania under the Nazi occupation were slaughtered, with the help of a large number of local collaborators.

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Text of the Letter Delivered to the Lithuanian Ambassador in London on 7 February 2011



Text of the letter delivered to the Lithuanian ambassador in London Monday morning 7 February 2011 by the Right Honourable Denis MacShane MP. The letter was drafted by Danny Ben-Moshe and evolved with input from the other signatories. Signatories include Lord Janner of Braunstone, Rabbi Barry Marcus of Central Synagogue, and Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert, head of the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London which hosted the main conference. PDF here. Background and further links to press coverage here.


H.E. Dr Oskaras Jusys

Ambassador
Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania
84 Gloucester Place
London W1U 6AU

7 February 2011

Dear Ambassador

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Vilnius ‘Yiddish Studies Professor’ tells ‘Economist’ that Litvaks who Speak Out for Lithuanian Jewry are ‘Taliban’


Litvak Taliban?

Dispatched to London by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, the state-approved director of the Vilnius Yiddish(-less) Institute bemoaned feeling himself ‘between two Talibans’, referring to the antisemitic establishment in Lithuania on the one hand, and to a polite letter of Litvak protest on the other. The comment was reported in today’s Economist, in an article by Edward Lucas, which also reports that the VYI director, Sarunas Liekis, described himself as ‘a Yiddish-studies professor from Vilnius’.

The ‘Taliban’ letter was signed among others, by Lord Janner; British MP Denis MacShane; head of the last active Litvak organization in the world, Joe Melamed; the master historian of the Lithuanian Holocaust Prof. Dov Levin; Rabbi Barry Marcus, leader of London’s Central Synagogue. Text of the ‘Taliban’ letter here. Signatories here.

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Winner of Lithuanian Government’s “Gold Star” Makes Accusations against Government’s Critics



O P I N I O N

REPRINT FROM  “David’s Blog” at: http://davidpaulbooks.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/99/.

As duly noted by the blog’s editor, the author, Professor E. Zimroth, is the recipient of the government’s Lithuanian Millennium Star, awarded to her by the foreign minister in a ceremony at the Lithuanian consulate in New York.  That foreign minister’s subsequent comments on the period of Nazi rule in his country are available here.

Professor Zimroth is one of a number of Western Jewish dignitaries honored by the Lithuanian government. The public letter referred to by the author is available here.


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