by Defending History Staff
The well-organized conference “Antisemitism, Radicalization and Violent Extremism” was held on 30 September 2015 at Vilnius’s Novotel Hotel by the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HMRI) with partners (see program). It will go down in history as one of the most remarkable capers yet in the fraught local “Dead Jew Business,” as it is increasingly becoming known. The biggest shock of the day was that one of the three keynote morning session speakers was Swedish-born Lithuania-resident filmmaker Jonas Ohman, known in town for his (far right style) glorification of postwar resistance fighters — one of the most painful issues of Baltic antisemitism in the twenty-first century — without the slightest mention of the alleged Holocaust perpetrator background of the precise figures glorified.
But the film maker chosen for the morning session manages at the same time to also be a (far left style) Israel baiter, whose current “humanitarian project” is a petition asking the mayor of Vilnius to sack a Jewish (Israeli-Lithuanian) advisor on the basis of social media “silly photos” that become bacteriologically antisemitic when recycled in his own petition, and beyond, in its recontextualized, politically charged incarnation. Far from doing the same to counter officials and advisors with neo-Nazi links, he boasted in his talk (amateur video) of his links to Right Sector and other Ukrainian groups that adulate wartime Holocaust perpetrators. When he was trashing Israel, the Israeli ambassador to Lithuania, Amir Maimon, sitting in the hall, boldly called out a question: “Are you rewriting the history?” (at time code 13:31).
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, History, Human Rights, Identity Theft of the Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Norway, Opinion, Yiddish Affairs
Tagged Antisemitism in Lithuania, Conference on antisemitism in Lithuania, EEA Grants, HMRI (Vilnius), Human Rights Monitoring Institute, Leonidas Donskis, Saulius Suziedelis
Dr. Steinar Gil
Dozens of residents of Vilnius came to an evening this week to honor the visit of former Norwegian ambassador to Lithuania HE Steinar Gil (stationed in the Lithuanian capital from 2006 to 2011) and his wife Turi. Ambassador Gil played a legendary role in a number of human rights battles over the years.
Among those in attendance were Jewish veteran of the anti-Nazi partisans, Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, who recently celebrated her 92nd birthday, and Milan Chersonski, long-time editor (1999-2011) of the Jewish community’s newspaper Jerusalem of Lithuania. There were representatives (ambassadors or consuls) from seven foreign embassies and a number of prominent personalities from the arts, media, business, and academia.
BNS reported today that the Vilnius-based ambassadors of Britain, Estonia, France, Finland, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have written in no uncertain terms to the president and other major officials of Lithuania to express concern over the growing manifestations of antisemitism.
Two of the signatories confirmed privately to Defending History that the initiative had come from British ambassador HE Simon Butt, who also drafted the letter. Ambassador Butt had in 2008 organized a letter in moral support of Dr. Rachel Margolis, a walk through the Vilna Ghetto with Ms. Fania Brantsovsky, and had, together with other senior Western diplomats stationed in Vilnius, visited the decaying Jewish partisan fort in the forest.
“Spurious attempts are made to equate the uniquely evil genocide of the Jews with Soviet crimes against Lithuania, which, though great in magnitude, cannot be regarded as equivalent in either their intention or result.”
Excerpt from a letter to the president of Lithuania from the ambassadors of Britain, Estonia, Finland, France, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, 25 November 2010
Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Double Genocide, Estonia, EU, France, News & Views, Norway, Poland, Politics of Memory, Sweden, Symbology, United Kingdom, United States
According to historians, the largest slaughter of people in a single day in the history of the Baltic states occurred on the 29th of October 1941, when between nine and ten thousand Jews were gruesomely killed at the ‘Ninth Fort’ near Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania, under Nazi German command. Highly motivated local forces carried out most of the killing and the associated humiliation and degradation of the victims. To mark the occasion there is a commemoration ceremony at the site held each year at midday on the last Sunday in October. This year it was held today, under a bright sun that warmed the clear chill of late fall in Lithuania.
Organized by the Jewish Community of Kaunas, and addressed by its leader, Gercas (Hershl) Žakas, this year’s event drew just over a hundred people, filling less than half the paved plaza near the memorial dais. Survivors present expressed concern for the future status of Ninth Fort remembrance here, and Holocaust commemoration more generally. The concern echoes various factors, including the gradual disappearance of survivors and witnesses, the shrinking of the vestigial Jewish community, and the shifting political trends.
Discontinuation of the contract of Lithuania’s last Jewish professor — Dovid Katz, founding Yiddish professor at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute and editor of this website — for having mounted a defense of the defamed Holocaust Survivors, and building (via the Vilnius diplomatic community, op-eds in mainstream publications, and this site) international opposition to the ‘Double Genocide’ movement in Europe, and in Lithuania.
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Bloomington-Borns Program Manipulated?, Human Rights, Ireland, News & Views, Norway, Richard Maullin, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Yiddish Affairs
Tagged AHEYM, Borns Jewish Studies Program, Dan Opatoshu, Dov-Ber Kerler, Judaicvilnius.com, Richard Maullin, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Vilnius Yiddish Summer Program, VYI
Norway’s ambassador to Lithuania HE Steinar Gil has emerged as a Baltic region champion of human rights, at a time when the Lithuanian government continues its gestures of support for the March 11th neo-Nazi marchers (parallel to Latvian leaders’ stout defense of the March 16th Waffen SS march in Riga). Speaking at a March 19th forum on ‘European and Lithuanian Values’ at the Lithuanian parliament, Ambassador Gil remarked for the record: ‘Every foreigner in Lithuania noticed this march, where the participants were shouting “Lithuania for Lithuanians”. We were shocked.’ The ambassador also pointed out politely that fifty parliamentarians had signed a petition to ban the Baltic Pride gay-rights parade. He asked: How many had spoken up against the nationalist march? He added that every person with respect for herself or himself and for her or his country should condemn this kind of manifestation. Others who have spoken up include Irish ambassador HE Dónal Denham; UK ambassador HE Simon Butt; and Lithuania’s sole Liberal member of the European Parliament, Prof. Leonidas Donskis.
HE Steinar Gil publicly criticized the government’s and the elites’ silence and spirit of benign acquiescence following the neo-Nazi march. Speaking at a March 19th forum on ‘European and Lithuanian Values’ Ambassador Gil remarked: ‘Every foreigner in Lithuania noticed this march, where the participants were shouting “Lithuania for Lithuanians”. We were shocked.’
Ambassador Gil also pointed out that 50 parliamentarians had signed a petition to ban the Baltic Pride parade and asked how many Lithuanian parliamentarians and officials have spoken up against the Nationalist march? He added that every person with respect for herself or himself and for her or his country should condemn this kind of manifestation.
Reports on Lithuania Tribune and Delfi.lt (English translation here). Dr Efraim Zuroff’s 22 March statement of support for the ambassador.
At the initiative of Norway’s ambassador to Lithuania HE Steinar Gil, a group of ambassadors and chiefs of mission defied persistent rain to go on a historical walking tour of the Vilna Ghetto, where Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, 87, librarian of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, recounted the history of the city’s anti-Nazi resistance. They represented the embassies of Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Poland, Portugal and Russia. Britain, Canada and the United States had participated on a previous date.
The walk was preceded by a meeting at the Jewish Community of Lithuania addressed by Norwegian ambassador HE Steinar Gil, JCL chairman Dr Shimon Alperovich, executive director Mr Simon Gurevich, and Professor Dovid Katz of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute. The event is perceived as a meaningful response to the campaign of defamation targeting Jewish veterans of the anti-Nazi resistance (see below at 28 October 2009). Report at: Responses (→ 26 Nov 2009).