Israel

Israeli issues concerning the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. Israeli-Baltic, Israeli-Lithuanian, and Israeli-Latvian issues. Israeli “payments” for Baltic political support and the views of survivors and their constituencies. Tracking Yad Vashem’s political department vis-a-vis these issues.
*
Please see the related page ISRAEL CHRONICLE, at:
http://defendinghistory.com/israel-debates/43340
*
Page on the “political department” of Yad Vashem:
http://defendinghistory.com/category/political-pressure-on-yad-vashem

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‘That Awful Summer’ — Conference at Efrata College in Jerusalem



E Y E W I T N E S S    R E P O R T   /  O P I N I O N

by Joshua Markovitz (Jerusalem)

It was Thursday November 24th. Thanksgiving. One couldn’t really feel it in Jerusalem, though; the city was bustling as it would on any other crisp autumn morning. I made my way through its fashionable Baka neighborhood, asking several passersby where to find Efrata College. (One of them couldn’t understand my question, and asked me if I spoke English. I happily replied in the affirmative. When one is an immigrant to a faraway land, it’s quite delicious to be mistaken for a native!)

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Yad Vashem’s Exhibit on the Holocaust in Lithuania



O P I N I O N

by David Goshen (Kiryat Ono)

[Editor’s note of 1 December 2012: The letter below refers to the revised Yad Vashem exhibit of recent years, rather than the long-time exhibit removed. Cf. the final point made in my own June 2009 letter to Yad Vashem.]

The following letter was recently sent by me to the editor of the Jerusalem Post. It had one main object, namely to point out that a major portion of the responsibility for the murder of the Jews of Lithuania lies on the shoulders of the local Lithuanian population and to persuade the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum that the description “killed by the Nazis with the assistance of their local allies” does not by far describe what really took place in Lithuania in the Holocaust. A much abridged version of the letter was published on 30 November 2011.

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Jerusalem-Kabul Exchange of Ideas: Dr. Efraim Zuroff, head of Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office, Replies to EU’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, Vygaudas Ušackas



THE DEBATE (IN REVERSE CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER)

Background on DefendingHistory.com:

2 January 2012 report

13 January 2012, from Efraim Zuroff (Jerusalem):

EXCERPT FROM OP-ED IN HAARETZ.  FULL TEXT HERE.

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Unconfirmed Report: Yad Vashem asked to Shore Up Discredited Red-Brown Commission with Three (!) New Members


VILNIUS. Unconfirmed rumors were swirling in “Holocaust politics” circles this week about an alleged request by “very high officials” of the Lithuanian government to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem — through channels including both countries’ foreign ministries — to shore up the status of the widely discredited “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania.” The commission is widely known as the “Red-Brown Commission.”

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Holocaust Survivors to Demonstrate outside Tel Aviv ‘Sellout Gala’ Slated for March 5th



C O M M E N T

[updated 17 Feb] The following “SAVE THE DATE GALA DINNER” announcement was recently posted on the Telfed Online website [update: page taken down; similar text is at the ILCCI site of the organizing “Israel-Lithuania”]:

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Joe Melamed, Head of Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, calls on ‘Real Litvaks’ to Stay Away from Tel Aviv ‘Gala Sham’ on March 5th


Developments have started moving quickly in the ill-starred project to host the current foreign minister of Lithuania as “guest of honor” at a Tel Aviv “gala” at the Dan Panorama Hotel on March 5th.

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Images from a Survivor Demonstration at the Dan Panorama in Tel Aviv


Most counts put at eighteen the number of participants in a small, polite but determined picket line outside the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv this evening. The protesters, Holocaust survivors from Lithuania and their supporters, sported signs in English, Hebrew and Yiddish taking to task the government-manipulated gala evening being held inside the hotel by “Yisrael Lita” at which the Lithuanian foreign minister, a determined opponent of accurate Holocaust comemmoration, was “guest of honor.”

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Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors Protest Tel Aviv “Gala”


Kovno Ghetto Survivor and Resistance Hero Joe Melamed, 87, Leads March 5th 2012 Picket Line Against “Sellout Gala” at the Tel Aviv Dan Panorama

Lithuanian Foreign Minister and Brothers Zingeris are Greeted by Protesting Holocaust Survivors

A FIRST-TIME PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN LEYVIK HOUSE YIDDISH CULTURE CENTERTHE SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER ISRAEL OFFICE AND THE ASSOCIATION OF LITHUANIAN JEWS IN ISRAEL

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Holocaust Survivors Picket TA ‘Gala’ Where South African Bigwigs Honor Lithuanian Right-Wing Politician


Kovno Ghetto Survivor and Resistance Hero Joe Melamed, 87, Leads March 5th 2012 Picket Line Against “Sellout Gala” at the Tel Aviv Dan Panorama

MORE IMAGES

Lithuanian Foreign Minister and Brothers Zingeris are Greeted by Protesting Holocaust Survivors

A FIRST-TIME PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN LEYVIK HOUSE YIDDISH CULTURE CENTER, THE SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER ISRAEL OFFICE AND THE ASSOCIATION OF LITHUANIAN JEWS IN ISRAEL

Report on YNET.  The Times of Israel.  15min.lt.  Itongadol.com.  Agencia Judia.  Forverts (Yiddish Forward).    Background.  More.

Holocaust survivors Shlomo Cheskov (left, from Shavl/Šiauliai), and Joseph Melamed (from Kovno/Kaunas) at the Tel Aviv demonstration. Mr. Cheskov’s sign says (in Yiddish) “With our partisan heroes, against neo-Nazism. We are here!” Mr. Melamed’s (in Hebrew) addressed to the South African businessmen diners at the gala dinner: “Dear Diners! Where is your conscience? Your solidarity with Holocaust survivors and resistance fighters and partisans?” Photo: Bella Bryks-Klein.

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Crying Over Dead Jews



O P I N I O N

by Geoff Vasil

 

Lithuania’s Jewish community isn’t immune from the broader issues facing Jewish existence in Eastern Europe and there are the same problems of Jewish identity that crop up in Russia, Bulgaria, Poland and elsewhere. And just as there are Christian Evangelicals and others who support the policies of the right-wing in the State of Israel elsewhere in Europe, there are those same voices among Lithuanian politicians and public figures.

What is perhaps different in Lithuania than elsewhere in Eastern Europe is that this Gentile support for Zionist ideals doesn’t translate into support for the surviving local Jewish community or contribute to a profounder and more sympathetic understanding of the Holocaust.

UPDATE OF 5 AUGUST 2012: This essay was republished with permission in the Algemeiner Journal; in 15min.lt (where it seems to have been taken down, but is still listed in Search); in Jewish Ideas Daily (where it was chosen as one of the editor’s picks for 1 August 2012).

Visitors to Vilnius will see any number of plaques dedicated to famous Jewish residents of Vilnius and several dedicated to the Holocaust. Those who look a little deeper under the surface might find there are a number of agencies, organizations and institutions operating in Vilnius which seemingly are aimed at promoting Jewish history, language and culture. In fact, both the plaques and monuments, and the majority of these “Jewish” organizations, serve as little more than window-dressing and display show-cases the Lithuanian government rolls out as exhibits evidencing Lithuanian sincerity in addressing the incomparable atrocity of the Holocaust.

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Yad Vashem Shocks Holocaust Survivors by Rejoining Lithuanian Government’s “Red-Brown Commission”


Holocaust survivors from Lithuania, and their families and advocates, are reporting feelings of “shock and betrayal” at “unbelievable reports” that Yad Vashem might again be lending legitimacy to the Lithuanian government sponsored “red-brown commission.” These accounts derive from a BNS (Baltic News Service) report today that appeared in various Lithuanian media, including Alfa.lt (full translation below), reporting that the president herself signed the decree today for substantial new state investment in the commission.

The Vilnius and Jerusalem rumor mills are equally putting out the word that there had been pressure from the Israeli foreign ministry, itself pressured by the Lithuanian foreign ministry for Holocaust-revising gestures in line with the current Baltic state policy often referred to as “Double Genocide.”

UPDATES: 29 Aug 201231 Aug31 Aug(b)31 Aug(c); 3 Sept; 3 Sept(b) [Holocaust survivors’ statement]; 3 Sept(c) [Survivors’ letter to head of Yad Vashem]; 3 Sept(d) [in English translation].

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Clemens Heni’s Facebook Reactions to the Red-Brown Commission’s Renewal


The following Facebook entry is reproduced here with permission of the author, Dr. Clemens Heni.


Clemens Heni shared a link.

31 August 2012

1) Dina Porat wrote a piece on the Lithuanian Holocaust years ago, http://defendinghistory.com/readinglist.

2) Her joining the Lithuanian commission makes the institutional / government betrayal coming from Jerusalem even worse: a top honest Holocaust scholar joins with distorters, obfuscationists in a commission that has a track record of throwing its honest Israeli members to the wolves (Arad!), and of using serious foreign scholars with an array of intrigue, complexity, and layered nuance that no foreigner could combat in the multimillion euro den of Holocaust Obfuscation’s European capital.

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June 2009 Correspondence with Yad Vashem



D O C U M E N T S

After more than three years’ wait for a substantive reply to the points raised in a letter to Yad Vashem, and in light of the past week’s shocking revalations about political legitimization by Yad Vashem of the Lithuanian government’s “red-brown commission” that is the engine of Prague Declaration and Double Genocide politics in Europe, DefendingHistory is releasing the full text of the letter of 28 June 2009, and the initial reply received the following day.

In the original the images, numbered 1-7, were included as email attachments. Here they are inserted in the text. [Note: the author’s eleven-year Vilnius University affiliation ended in 2010.]


—-Original Message—–

From: Dovid Katz [mailto:dovidkatz@vilniusuniversity.net]
Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 1:17 PM
To: גביר יוסי
Cc: ‘Simon Wiesenthal Center-Israel Office’; ‘Dov Levin’; ‘Joseph Melamed’
Subject: from Dovid Katz (Vilnius University)

Greetings dear Yossi (at the moment from Tel Aviv),

Trust this finds you and all at Yad Vashem well and thriving. As you may recall, we corresponded for several months in Spring 2008. I had been (and frankly remain) disappointed that by continuing to allow Yad Vashem’s name to appear as a partner of the Lithuanian government sponsored “Red-Brown Commission” even as the falsification of history (replacement of the very notion of the Holocaust by a paradigm of two equal genocides) continues apace at the European Parliament. Parliamentarians are told: “Look, Yad Vashem is with us….” Of course Yad Vashem has no such intention, and we are in agreement that it’s important for Lithuanian teachers to be educated in Jerusalem but that should be facilitated through any of the various honest NGOs or educators, not the “Red-Brown Commission” whose major current project is passage of the “equal genocide” resolutions in the European Parliament. My two recent op-eds on the topic are in the Jewish Chronicle and Irish Times.

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Holocaust Survivors, Based in Tel Aviv, Issue Statement on Renewal of the Red-Brown Commission


TEL AVIV—The following public statement was received at 2:15 PM Tel Aviv time from the offices of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel at King David Boulevard 1. In addition, the ALJ today released the letter written by its chairman to the head of Yad Vashem (English translation here). Background.

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Joseph Melamed, Head of Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors’ Association, Releases Letter to Director of Yad Vashem


TEL AVIV—The office of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel today released the text of the Hebrew letter which the ALJ’s chairman, Tel Aviv attorney Joseph Melamed, sent today to Avner Shalev, the director of Yad Vashem. Images of the letter’s two pages follow (signed letter as PDF). English translation here.

See also the separate English statement which the ALJ released to the media earlier today, following the recent news about the Lithuanian government renewing a much enlarged red-brown commission with the ostensible participation of Yad Vashem.

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English Text of Joseph Melamed’s Letter to Yad Vashem


The following is a translation of the Hebrew letter from Tel Aviv attorney Joseph Melamed, head of the Association of Lithuanian Jews, to Avner Shalev, director of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, in reaction to news reports reporting that Yad Vashem would rejoin the Vilnius-based red-brown commission. In addition, the Association issued a statement to the media today.


Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel
1 King David Boulevard
Tel Aviv 64953
Telephone +9723 696-4812
Fax +9723 695-4821
www.lithuanianjews.org.il
litjews@bezeqint.net

Tel Aviv, 3 September 2012

Hon. Avner Shalev
Chairman, Yad Vashem
The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority
P.O.B. 3477
Jerusalem 91034

 

Shalom, Avner,

The Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel was left in shock by the decision of Yad Vashem to renew its activities in the “International” Commission [for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania].

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Holocaust Commemoration Vilnius Style — with an Israeli Twist


 


E Y E W I T N E S S   R E P O R T  /  O P I N I O N

 

The ceremony today to commemorate Lithuanian Holocaust victims at Ponár, the country’s largest mass murder site, outside the capital city of Vilnius, on the day officially known as Day to Commemorate the Lithuanian Jewish Victims of Genocide, went off pretty much as most official commemorations do here: inappropriate and with seeming desperation to focus on any topic except the circumstances of the actual Lithuanian Holocaust—the massive collaboration and participation that led to the country’s having the highest proportion of Holocaust murder in Europe.

Ponár is the site’s Yiddish name. It is today Paneriai and is known as Ponary in Polish.

The official date, the 23rd of September was marked this year on the 24th, apparently so officials wouldn’t have to interrupt their weekend break.

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Yad Vashem Sinking Deeper in Lithuanian “Commission” Morass with Political Campaign for Compensation from Russia


The polite fiction that the renewed Lithuanian state sponsored “Red-Brown Commission” will advance Holocaust research and research on Soviet crimes strictly at the academic and educational levels took a big hit today, before even its first meetings.

A BNS report released today confirms that the Commission, officially known as The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, is one of the bodies that will be involved with demanding compensation from Russia for Soviet crimes against Lithuania.

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Tel Aviv’s Leivick House Releases 2009 Video of Ambassador Chen Ivri Apter


Israel’s Ambassador Chen Ivri Apter presenting Dr. Rachel Margolis with a certificate of merit at Leivick House in Tel Aviv. Dr. Margolis is seen wearing the medals won for her bravery fighting against the Nazis in the forests of Lithuania during the Holocaust. Her entire family perished.

Leivick House, one of Israel’s (and the world’s) last Yiddish-in-Yiddish cultural institutions, has released a video clip of the June 2009 visit to its Dov Hoz Street headquarters in central Tel Aviv by Israel’s then ambassador to Latvia and Lithuania, the late Chen Ivri Apter, at an event to honor Dr. Rachel Margolis. It is posted on YouTube (partial English translation here). The event itself was reported in DefendingHistory and the Leivick House website, among other venues.

Dr. Margolis, due to celebrate her 91st birthday next week, is a Vilna Ghetto survivor and anti-Nazi resistance hero who has been targeted by Lithuanian prosecutors, in effect according to some for “the crime of surviving.” Tributes to Dr. Margolis have come from around the world, including former UK prime minister Gordon Brown in 2011.

Ambassador Ivri Apter died last month at the age of 54 after a long battle with cancer that friends always said he never allowed to cloud his love of life and the day ahead.

His short speech at Leivick House is thought likely to go down in history for its courage and forthrightness at a time when his nation’s foreign policy was noticeably starting to tilt in a contrary direction. The Tel Aviv event was organized jointly by DefendingHistory.com and Leivick House.

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Happy 91st Birthday to Dr. Rachel Margolis



Tel Aviv’s Leivick House Releases Video of 2009 tribute by the late Ambassador Chen Ivri Apter ♦ Also: FORMER UK PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN ♦ 5 MEMBERS OF US CONGRESS ♦ LATE LITHUANIAN PM ALGIRDAS BRAZAUSKAS ♦ TABLET MAGAZINE ♦ ACADEMIC STUDIES PRESS ♦ KEENE STATE COLLEGE ♦ SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE ♦ LORD JANNER OF BRAUNSTONE ♦ ADL DIRECTOR ABRAHAM FOXMAN ♦ NCSJ ♦ METRO WEST HOLOCAUST COUNCIL ♦ JEWISH CHRONICLE ♦ ALGEMEINER JOURNAL (& 2) ♦ RACHEL MARGOLIS.COM ♦ FACT SHEET

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