The Great SLS About-Face

Letter from the Director of SLS of 13 May 2011


 


HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS  /  US FOREIGN POLICY AND THE HOLOCAUST

While Dr. Efraim Zuroff, an esteemed scholar and accomplished author who has disagreed with the Lithuanian government’s Holocaust revisionism was declared by the US embassy to be “political” and grant-threatening or nullifying for a supported literary program, subsequent speakers reflecting the policies of the Lithuanian government may have been included without hesitation, e.g. E. Cassedy in 2014. Incidentally, Defending History criticized an earlier State Dept. supported visit by Ms. Cassedy, not objecting to her appearance on any of these occasions, but rather to the exclusion of second opinions from the roster of speakers.

UPDATE: SEE ALSO REPLY

For students of the history of Holocaust issues in American foreign policy during the Obama administration, possible links with officials of a US museum and a Fulbright fellow in Vilnius may prove to be of some interest in future studies of attempts to manipulate the Holocaust debate during these years, in the context of Baltic and east-west politics, and of shifting State Department policy. Others who have remarked on the shift in US policy include Rachel Kostanian, longtime head of the Green House Holocaust museum in Vilnius; Milan Chersonski, longtime editor of the Jewish community’s quadrilingual newspaper; and journalist Geoff Vasil.
One yardstick for a future study will be the roster of Jewish-interest speakers who appeared with direct and indirect State Dept. support, and the percentage who had disagreed with Baltic nationalist Holocaust revisionism.
This document (below) appears here today after an SLS official publicly called the author of an op-ed in New York’s Algemeiner Journal “a bald-faced liar” (in the comments to the op-ed),  for asserting US embassy manipulation of the debate on the Holocaust in Lithuania via SLS, with a follow-up replete with unusual personal invective including the issue of our editor’s choice of city of residence…
Incidentally, the same SLS leader had published a very different earlier set of views numerous times, e.g. here and here, and was pleased for a Defending History section to be devoted to his writings and interviews.

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Yivo Conference: Unresolved History



O P I N I O N

by Geoff Vasil

This comment on the event “Unresolved History: Jews and Lithuanians After the Holocaust,” held February 14, 2014 in New York City is based on the videotape of the event that Yivo has posted on its website. Readers may also wish to see Olga Zabludoff’s articles before and after the event, and the comments accruing during last month’s discussion in New York’s Algemeiner.Com. Geoff Vasil has covered a number of state-sponsored Holocaust events over the years, including one featuring some of the same participants last summer in Vilnius. Defending History’s openly critical views of the “red-brown commission” are available in the section dedicated to various of the debates in recent years. The commission’s own website is here.


 

On February 14, 2014, a small panel spoke at YIVO world headquarters in NYC. There weren’t many people in the audience, to judge from the crowd sounds, and at least one panelist wasn’t there. It had been delayed a day earlier when a massive ice storm hit the city and temperatures plummeted. Tomas Venclova wasn’t able to make it because of the weather and poor health.

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Olga Zabludoff’s Comment on a February 2014 Yivo Symposium


 


The following 7 March 2014 comment by Olga Zabludoff on the video posted of the 14 February 2014 event at Yivo appears in the Comments section for her earlier article in the Algemeiner Journal, where readers can follow the entire discussion.


Many thanks to Yivo for posting the video of the discussion “Unresolved History: Jews and Lithuanians after the Holocaust.” In my opinion, the champion panelist was Leonidas Donskis who opened his heart with conviction and courage. As a Jewish Lithuanian his understanding of and sympathy for both Jews and Lithuanians have generated wise insights and pervasive truths. Among his magnitude of analytical comments to be applauded, Donskis explained that the Far Right in Lithuania has managed to get close to the center of power where they have been “mainstreamed” rather than marginalized. He also reflected on how difficult it is for Lithuanians who have decided to tell the truth. As a nation “we lack the political courage,” he remarked.

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Lithuania Propaganda Agency is On The Road Again



O P I N I O N

by Geoff Vasil

This opinion piece and eyewitness report by Geoff Vasil relates to the July 10th event in honor of the Red-Brown Commission held at the Vilnius Jewish Public Library. See related reports on the library’s instrumentalization as a PR platform for the Commission and the more or less contemporaneous announcement of the Commission’s resumed activities, in the absence of apologies to Yitzhak Arad, Pinchos Fridberg, and the other accused Holocaust survivors.


Attendees at the July 10, 2013 event to honor the “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania” were treated to speeches and plentiful Katz-bashing by (from right) Ronaldas Račinskas, Saulius Sužiedėlis and Ilya Lempertas.

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The Disquieting 2010-2012 Record of the American Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania



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Simon Wiesenthal Center Laments Yivo’s Betrayals of Jewish Causes for the Sake of Lithuanian State PR



O P I N I O N

by Efraim Zuroff

reprinted with the author’s permission from today’s Times of Israel


 

This week, one of the more shameful events in Lithuanian-Jewish relations since the Baltic republic regained independence in 1991 will be hosted in New York by the once-venerable Yivo Institute. Under the heading “Reclaiming the Jewish Narrative in Lithuania Today,” the Yiddish research institute will host Markas Zingeris, whom it describes as a “Lithuanian-Jewish poet and writer,” to speak about relations between Jews and Lithuanians since the fall of Communism.

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Trilingual Memorial Plaque Unveiled on Zhager Town Square



O N – S I T E  R E P O R T / O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

ZHAGER, northern Lithuania. Over a hundred people gathered here today on the historic town square to unveil a trilingual plaque memorializing the erstwhile Jewish population of thousands in the town, today Žagarė. The event was incorporated into the annual Cherry Festival and suitably entitled “You can’t fudge the history.”

SEE ALSO THE REPORTS BY ROD FREEDMAN AND SARA MANOBLA

THE QUESTION: IS IT THE ONLY TOWN-CENTER IN ALL THE LAND WITH CLEAR AND TRUE WORDS ON THE TRUE FATE OF THE JEWISH POPULATION?

The text — in English, Lithuanian and Yiddish — summarizes the unvarnished history, with prominent reference to local Lithuanian collaboration (though historians will quibble with the use of “some” in place of “many” among other points). It is placed right in the center of town, rather than at a mass grave site deep in the forest; that might well be a first in modern Lithuanian history.

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Litvaks and their Descendants Issue Public Letter Calling for Change in Lithuanian Government’s Holocaust Policies


 


Text of the public letter follows. Queries may be sent to Professor Danny Ben-Moshe at: Danny.Ben-Moshe@vu.edu.au.  UPDATES: Covered by JTA and the Jewish Chronicle.


We the undersigned Litvaks — Jews of Lithuanian origin and their direct and immediate descendants — hereby express:

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Litvak Leader Prof. Mikhail Iossel Gives Major Radio Interview


Professor Mikhail Iossel, founding director of the Litvak Studies Institute (LSI), has given a major radio interview on salient Litvak issues to RCI — Radio Canada International. The sound track of the interview is available here. For more information, see coverage on the LSI site.

 

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Litvak Studies Institute Protests “Fake Litvak” Game by Politicians; Director Mikhail Iossel Issues Statement



Professor Mikhail Iossel, director of Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) and the newly established Litvak Studies Institute (LSI) released this statement today on the LSI website.

 

Litvak Studies Institute Protests Lithuanian Government’s “Fake Litvak” Forum, Calls on State to Halt PR Gimmickry and Reverse Anti-Jewish Policies

Posted in Press — 20 July 2010

For the dwindling number of aged Litvak survivors who grew up in the East European Jewish civilization decimated by the Holocaust, the anti-Jewish and Holocaust-distorting policies of the Lithuanian government in recent years are deeply painful.

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Professor Iossel Announces Launch of Litvak Institute in the Canadian Jewish News


The following article by David Lazarus appeared today in the Canadian Jewish News.

MONTREAL Concordia University professor Mikhail Iossel was cautiously optimistic as he was about to leave for Vilnius, Lithuania, to take the first steps in launching a historically unprecedented undertaking, the Litvak Studies Institute (LSI).

The institute will operate as a permanent, non-profit studies program in Vilnius – known as Vilna to generations of Jews – seeking to preserve and transmit the rich religious, literary, linguistic and cultural legacy that defined Jewish Lithuania and was all but obliterated in the Holocaust, the creative writing professor said in an interview.

But the endeavour, Iossel acknowledged, is being undertaken in a country that – like most of eastern Europe – is experiencing rising nationalistic undercurrents and rumblings that depict Nazism and Stalinism as equal historic evils. Lithuania itself is being presented as a victim of genocide as the government attempts to sanitize its own involvement in the Holocaust.

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