Open Debate, Open Society, and Secret Societies




O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

Last Thursday, 3 November, an article I’d submitted to the Jerusalem Post for consideration appeared on the op-ed page (PDF of the print edition here). In democratic societies, sending an opinion piece to a respectable publication, signing it with one’s real name, and opening it (and oneself) to further open debate and discussion are rather standard. As usual, I linked to the article on my Facebook page, expecting some to agree and some to disagree, moving debate forward.

But a number of Facebook Friends who did not react on my page, or any other open forum, did for some reason find it appropriate to join a kind of witch hunt against the article and its author on a page of a “Secret Group” called Lietuva be neonacizmo (Lithuania Without Neo-Nazism), located at: www.facebook.com/groups/135816956486382.

 

The original discussion of 3 and 4 November 2011 is available here. A full English translation is appended below and is also available as PDF.

Why on earth a group opposed to the new far-right trends sweeping swaths of Eastern Europe thinks that the way to combat these trends is with a “Secret Group” is a curiosity in and itself.

But the plot thickens.

The Jerusalem Post article actually refers directly to issues that might a priori be of concern to a group that purports to be concerned about far-right and/or neo-Nazi influences in Lithuania and its region. Issues raised include (ab)use of prosecution authorities’ powers to defame Holocaust survivors who joined the anti-Nazi resistance; (ab)use of state treasure to further Double Genocide projects and resolutions in Europe and beyond; (ab)use of state treasure to honor local Nazi collaborators such as the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) as “anti-Soviet heroes”; state toleration of legalized neo-Nazi parades and of public swastikas.

But no, there was little support from the Secret Society called “Lithuania Without Nazism” for a colleague having taken the time to raise such issues.

Instead, a rather Soviet-style witch hunt ensued that those of us old enough to remember the Cold War’s heyday recall all too well. A professor with many years of happy, incident-free service is dismissed after writing some articles in foreign newspapers on Jewish and human rights issues. None of his colleagues protests with a single word at his dismissal, but some rush to then accuse him of no longer teaching. A “mildly” antisemitic milieu attracts sycophantic Uncle Tom Jewish fellow travelling, with all and sundry rushing to win brownie points from the state’s establishment for throwing more stones and making it into the In Crowd.

Perhaps, however, the most time-resistant feature of this episode will turn out to be the obsession with Jews being controlled by Moscow and being Russian-Jewish agents, and the implicit notion that this is the switch to turn on when you are trying to disparage a Jewish colleague you disagree with. The added twist is the presence of this phenomenon among folks who are, on occasion, deeply (and quite profitably) involved with Jewish and Litvak heritage projects in the lands of the Holocaust.

VYTAUTAS TOLEIKIS:

“But people who don’t know much about Lithuania who cast a glance at JP – he’s poisoning their subconscious, essentially employing black arts.”

Yep, publishing your opinion in the Jerusalem Post must be a kind of Jewish black magic designed to mesmerize the nations of the world against the Lithuanian people….  Certainly the he-witch should be put on trial by the Secret Group called “Lithuania Without Neo-Nazism”.

VYTAUTAS TOLEIKIS:

“And he’s doing this very intentionally, influencing the Lithuanian Jewish Community as he likes.  It’s sad that my daughter’s favorite teacher of the semester is turning into a politruk [some disparaging term for Soviet politician ― trans.] manipulated by nobody knows who.”

Yep, if someone in the Lithuanian Jewish Community has an opinion that diverges from the government’s, then this Katz and his black magic must have been influencing them! The daughter’s favorite teacher of the semester was perhaps the country’s last or one of its last Jewish / Jewish Studies / Yiddish professors, fired for having expressed opinions on Jewish issues outside the university. No comment then from the glorious Secret Group “opposed to neo-Nazism” but now? Now the sad certainty that actually (and effectively) speaking up against neo-Nazism and its manifestations must be a manipulation by — “nobody knows who”…

Actually, in the East European antisemitic delirium, everybody knows who. We are back to the same old antisemitism: It is all a Judeo-Bolshevik plot manipulated by ― Russia. Why, if someone disagrees with a government policy on Jewish issues, that must be coming from ― Russia. And back then? Well, they were all mostly NKVD anyhow and got what they deserve.

LARA LEMPERT [LARISA LEMPERTIENE]:

“I know from experience – I can’t communicate with certain friends living in Israel and the USA who have read his articles.”

Let’s see how this works…. “Shalom, Hi, hey great to hear your voice! Oh no, sorry, I can’t communicate with you anymore because I have read Katz’s articles, and I am therefore hanging up the phone!”

VYTAUTAS TOLEIKIS:

“Pro-Russian Jewish organizations use him, I’ve seen the recordings on the internet, sadly.”

Yes, in the frenzy of the witch hunt, the notion of “manipulated by nobody knows who” took a few lines to morph into the classic antisemitic canard of the pro-Russian Jewish Forces behind an opinion piece published by the Jerusalem Post.  Actually, I attended a conference run by a Russian-Jewish anti-Nazi organization, and gave a speech disagreeing with the organizers’ failure to anchor their movement in Western democratic values.  This was duly reported in Tablet Magazine: [One speaker in Kiev publicly addressed these issues and urged the new organization to recognize the historical crimes of communism, even as it challenges official efforts in Eastern Europe to equate and conflate those crimes with those of the Nazis. That speaker was Dovid Katz, a former professor at the University of Vilnius  (and  Tablet  contributor [9]) and the curator of HolocaustInTheBaltics.com [10]. “While we reject the theories of ‘equivalence’ of Nazi and Soviet crimes,” said Katz, “we must be careful never to join those who would deny or mitigate or trivialize the enormous crimes committed by Stalinism and Soviet domination of many lands and peoples against their will.”]

But such niceties are of little interest to the judge and jury of the Secret Group “Lithuania Without Neo-Nazism” who have “seen the recordings on the internet, sadly”.  A comprehensive collection of my few television interviews can be judged by readers on the relevant page of my YouTube channel. A paper including my views on Russian issues was published by Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review.  More on the Soviet Crimes page on DefendingHistory.com.

LARA LEMPERT [LARISA LEMPERTIENE]:

“Katz claims Rachele Margolis is afraid and doesn’t want to travel to Lithuania. it’s not true: she’s not afraid and wants to, but after Katz’s articles her daughter won’t let her.”

Rachel Margolis, whose 90th birthday we celebrated in Rechovot two weeks ago, has made her views very clear on various occasions (e.g. in Avi Lehrer’s clips posted here and here). But these must be fake. The Jewish Black Magic Rasputin must have mesmerized her daughter with his articles.

AKVILĖ GRIGORAVIČIŪTĖ:

“Isn’t it too much to hope for that the Kupčinskases and the like from the Conservative Party will suddenly hold a press conference and announce how they love and respect Fania and Rachel?”

Maybe. But it’s not too much to hope that those making fine hay from the tragic Litvak heritage could be a little more sensitive to the possibility the Lithuanian state still has time to end some seven hundred years of shared history on a nicer note than sending police and Interpol  — in the absence of any charge, howsoever tiny — to chase up the last of the last Holocaust survivors who are alive because they joined the anti-Nazi resistance.


FULL TRANSLATION OF THE SECRET SOCIETY’S DISCUSSION ON FACEBOOK:

* Justinas Žilinskas Even recognizing the large portion of truth there, what is written and the way it is written falls right into Respublika’s hand.

Nov  3, 10:28  · Like ·  2

* Karolis Jonutis but that’s not where our :duplicity” lies …

Nov 3, 10:28  · Like

* Sergey Kanovich I have told Katz frankly to stop practicing politics and return to scholarship…

Nov 3, 13:22  · Like ·  3

* Aušra Pažėraitė yes, he is badly needed in academia…

Nov 3, 23:09  · Like

* Vytautas Toleikis I read the article, I was disappointed. Every bit of better news from Lithuania is nonetheless bad in Katz’s eyes.

Nov 3, 23:13  · Like ·  3

* Lara Lempert it’s all the same to him no matter what the nes is it’s just a pretext to repeat anew the same old story. the real subject of this article is presented from the fifth paragraph on.

Nov 3, 23:38  · Like ·  2

* Vytautas Toleikis But people who don’t know much about Lithuania who cast a glance at JP – he’s poisoning their subconscious, essentially employing black technologies [or “arts,” from the Russian phrase concerning PR and election campaigns –trans.]

Nov 3, 23:40  · Like ·  2

* Vytautas Toleikis And he’s doing this very intentionally, influencing the Lithuanian Jewish Community as he likes.

It’s sad that my daughter’s favorite teacher of the semester is turning into a politruk [some disparaging term for Soviet politician? –trans.] manipulated by nobody knows whom.

Nov 3, 23:42  · Like ·  1

* Lara Lempert Vytautas, unfortunately I agree with that. I didn’t want to belittle the influence of and damage done by Katz in my comment. I know from experience – I can’t communicate with certain friends living in Israel and the USA who have read his articles.

Nov 3, 23:43  · Like

* Sergey Kanovich don’t confuse him with the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

Nov 3, 23:44  · Like

* Lara Lempert but I don’t agree he is being manipulated by someone: I think Katz himself is [“the” or “a”] manipulator.

Nov 3, 23:45  · Like

* Vytautas Toleikis Probably. Even though pro-Russian Jewish organizations use him, I’ve seen the recordings on the internet, sadly.

Nov 3, 23:47  · Like

* Vytautas Toleikis Sergey, I was recently at the Lithuanian Jewish Community, I saw Katz there, we greeted each other politely.

Nov 3, 23:47  · Like

* Lara Lempert Katz claims Rachele Margolis is afraid and doesn’t want to travel to Lithuania. it’s not true: she’s not afraid and wants to, but after Katz’s articles her daughter won’t let her.

Nov 3, 23:49  · Like

* Sergey Kanovich He still does several seminars which, thank G__, have nothing in common with politics. So it’s not right to equate him with the Lithuanian Jewish Community. I recently met him and told him frankly what I think. You can’t see and paint everything blackly…

Nov 3, 23:49  · Like

* Sergey Kanovich Lara, there are matters which in my opinion have nothing in common with those writing about the events. The Margolis/Brantsovskaya “soup” would have been over a long time ago if those upon whom it depends wanted it to be. If someone is soaking their bread in the milk [dragging it out] in this situation, it’s those who started but did not finish it.

Nov 3, 23:52  · Like ·  1

* Lara Lempert [but they] consider Brancovskaja finished

Friday, 00:48  · Like

* Sergey Kanovich But it seems to me that it isn’t we and neither Ms. Brantsovskaya (and not Margolis?) who should be reporting the news about “the conclusion” of this [scandalous] story, but the prosecutor, or those citizens who [sicked] the prosecutor [on the accused].

Friday, 00:53  · Like

* Akvilė Grigoravičiūtė sn’t it too much to hope for that the Kupcinskases and similar from the conserve party will suddenly hold a press conference and announce how they love and respect Fania and Rachele?

Friday, 01:04  · Like ·  1

 

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