The Real Litvak Champion of the 21st century: Joe Melamed, who passed away Thursday in Tel Aviv at 93 was the genuine Litvak who could not be bought, seduced or bamboozled (not even by photo-ops with presidents and ambassadors, glorious roots trips, grants, honors and other pots of lentils). He lived and breathed with loyalty to his annihilated people, the truth of their disappearance by genocide, and the future of their scattered remnants. And he did so in beautiful Kovno Yiddish, elegant modern Hebrew or a diplomat’s English.
Born in Kaunas (Kovno) in 1924, incarcerated in the Kovno Ghetto in 1941, escaped to serve heroically with the Jewish Partisans in 1943, served heroically with the Israeli Defense Forces in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, prominent attorney, diplomat, art collector, and from 1996 served for 17 years as chairman of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel. Author of the books Lithuania, Land of Blood and Crime and Punishment (among others).
Episodes of Inspiring Courage and Honesty from Recent Years:
♦ In 2009, gave a keynote address at the Tel Aviv evening to honor defamed Jewish partisan hero Rachel Margolis at Leivick House
♦ In 2010, challenged the American Embassy in Vilnius to explain the disbursement of a grant for a Holocaust conference the embassy planned and executed as a starkly one-sided event in concert with the local Double Genocide Industry establishment.
♦ In 2011, Lithuanian prosecutors arranged for Interpol to disturb Joe Melamed in his Tel Aviv office with allegations that he had “slandered” nine national “heroes” by exposing their alleged Holocaust collaboration in his 1999 book Crime and Punishment. Melamed stood up as a beacon of strength and pride when some wannabee Litvak leaders were afraid of losing invitations and photo-ops… The British Parliament, however, spoke out.
♦ In 2011, he called on the director of Yivo to cancel an invitation to a foreign minister (who had made antisemitic statements) as guest of honor at a Yivo banquet (where Holocaust survivors accused of being “war criminals” were excluded).
♦ In 2012, Joe Melamed led a friendly picket line outside the Tel Aviv hotel where a group of feckless South African millionaires were honoring with a banquet the foreign minister who had made antisemitic statements in addition (by then) to the notorious “moustache comparison” of Hitler and Stalin.
♠ In 2012, he protested to the director of Yad Vashem its succumbing to government pressure to rejoin the Lithuanian government’s “red-brown commission.”
♦ In 2013, he called out a “Sutzkever Prize” literary competition that was being abused for Holocaust obfuscation and to cover sundry state policies.
Joseph (Yosef,Yóske) Melamed
Born in Kovno (Kaunas), 1 April 1924
Died in Tel Aviv, 26 October 2017
Grave at Kiryat Shaul Cemetery, 22/2, 23/5