Tag Archives: Andrew Baker

Neo-Nazis Pick Up Hate Materials from… (Hijacked?) Official “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community” Website



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Lithuania’s top neo-Nazi blogger “Zeppelinus” has republished with some noticeable relish, in a post dated 27 May 2017, parts of the 19 May official “Lithuanian Jewish Community website” attack (as PDF) on this journal’s editor, Dovid Katz. The attack was, some would say shamefully, signed “LJC staff” though sources rapidly revealed its prime author (see our rapid response on the day). It is not the first time that the antisemitic far-right has found its material on the website of the official Jewish Community under its current leadership (that is under legal challenge after the recent allegedly rigged election), at a time when the website is, disturbingly, allegedly under control of elements very far from the interests of Lithuania’s Jews. Last autumn’s website attacks on Rabbi Sholom-Ber Krinsky were picked up and elaborated by another key antisemitic blogger who went so far as to  dig up the 1790s antisemitic attacks on a prime founder of Lithuanian Hasidism.

You know something is wrong when the neo-Nazis are finding their material on the “website of an official Jewish community”. It’s a website funded in fact by the state via restitution funds deriving from the communal religious properties of the annihilated Jewish communities of Lithuania, administered by a (this one’s for you, George Orwell) “Good Will Foundation”.

Then there was the most recent fiasco, a comparison of the democratic electoral congress of the Vilnius Jewish Community on 24 May to Russia’s “Zapad 2017” military exercises, and the charge that the assembled 300 or so Vilnius Jews were “mainly Russian speakers calling themselves Jews, with only a minority of people with Litvak blood” (see our report which led to JTA’s coverage, and the essays by Professor Pinchos Fridberg and by Leonas Kaplanas). This was a proverbial gift of the gods to the local antisemitic establishment here that revels in delegitimizing the country’s living Jews while embracing a de-Judaized ersatz “Litvak heritage” for PR, with some help from a tiny elite of privileged “court Jews” who themselves at times, it seems, become conduits for antisemitic invective against the local Jewish community. Prof. Fridberg has pointed out that a subsequent vague and unclear “apology” posted failed to disclose the author(s) of the offending text, and never even appeared in the Russian-language section of the website. Is the author of the offending text still employed by the official “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community”? Why is his or her identity a secret?

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Human Rights, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Neo-Nazis Pick Up Hate Materials from… (Hijacked?) Official “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community” Website

High Intrigue Over the Fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



by Dovid Katz

Updates in [brackets] to 12 July 2015  

VILNIUS—According to Lithuanian media sources, including the highly respected English-language Lithuania Tribune (now merged with Delfi.lt), the government, working in concert with property developers, plans to declare the controversial project of a huge convention and entertainment center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery site as a “project of national importance.” The move enables an application to the European Union for a grant of 13 million euros (14.64 million US dollars at current rates) as part of a grand-total (for now) of 22.8 million euros (25.67 million US dollars) for the new complex. The nation’s prime minister has told Lithuanian media that “after the modern congress center is completed, private investors could build a hotel, parking lots and other infrastructure,” eliciting fears that all of the old Jewish cemetery is becoming a cash cow slated for developers for years to come. The Lithuania Tribune / Delfi.lt report concludes with an estimate of “110 million euros in economic and social benefits over 15 years” in addition to “600,000 foreign tourists and 2.2 million local tourists to Vilnius over that time period, with their spending estimated at 183 million and 60 million euros, respectively,” in other words, with profits from the old Jewish cemetery exceeding the equivalent of 250 million dollars, apart from the millions to be had from the building projects per se. Some estimates are provided in Baltic Course.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Double Games, EU, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, United States, US State Dept Manipulated?, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on High Intrigue Over the Fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

The Lithuanian Government’s New Commission on Lithuanian Jewish Heritage



D O C U M E N T S

The following English version of the Lithuanian government’s announcement of its new state commission on Jewish heritage was released today. A PDF of the entire document is available here. An excerpt containing the mission statement is available here.

Update of 22 July 2015: Evidence mounts that the “Heritage Commission” was set up by the Lithuanian government, in part, to cover for the decision, at the same time, to proceed with a twenty-five million dollar convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt. One or more members of the commmision are also members of the state’s “red-brown commission” that promotes Double Genocide revisionism of Holocaust history; of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad; of a London rabbinic group that profits from “selling rights” to build on cemeteries under its expensive supervision. See the narrative and the paper trail (where color-coding marks the heritage commission’s adventures in purple).

Update of 22 June 2015: See now our report on the recent history of the Vilnius cemetery dispute. See also the statement from Herbert Block’s office about his own membership in the commission below.

Update of 1 June 2015: See now the 1 May listing of twelve major issues for the commission (with 1 June addendum) and the media chronicle of the renewed dispute over construction of a congress and entertainment complex on the site of Vilna’s Old Jewish cemetery.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Lithuanian Government’s New Commission on Lithuanian Jewish Heritage

When Government Honors are Part of a Plan to Rewrite History


“אַ מעדאַל פון אחשוורושן„

Can history be bought with state budgets? Can awards and honors from high officials of the Lithuanian government for Western and Jewish personalities provide public cover for the campaign to diminish and downgrade the history of the Holocaust in accordance with Baltic Holocaust revisionism?

NOTE: There is no suggestion that any of those honored, all eminent persons, realized that they were being elevated with ulterior motives. But the de-facto linkage of honors with espousal of varying aspects of red-brown revisionism (and/or simply to join in discrediting colleagues who disagree with Lithuanian government policies) makes way for disturbing questions, given the state investment in the politics of the Prague Declaration and Double Genocide. Persons entangled in the campaign would no doubt wish to be made aware of the wider patterning, with absolutely no disrespect.



 

Vilnius, Lithuania, May 2012:  Lithuanian Foreign Minister HE Audronius Ažubalis honors American historian Timothy Snyder during the week when  the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister was reburied by the state with full honors.  An open letter to Prof. Snyder. Respectfully disagreeing with some aspects of his recent book.

Washington DC, Oct. 2014: the Gold Star from the embassy finally comes:

lithuanian-diplomatic-star-being-awarded-to-professor-snyder-photo-ludo-66236254 (1)


Washington, DC, March 2012: Ellen Cassedy’s book We are Here is launched at the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington DC by the nation’s ambassador, HE Zygimantas Pavilonis, who did not, however, respond to public petitions to halt his nation’s city-center neo-Nazi march that month, or subsequent requests for the removal of state sponsored memorials to Nazi killers and collaborators. Reviews of the book here and here. The Lithuanian edition is being rushed through the press. In a 2012 interview, Ms. Cassedy stated: “I went to Lithuania, hoping to decide who was right and who was wrong; to put people in a column, who was a victim, who was a killer. And then those lines began to blur.”

Recommended reviews of Ms. Cassedy’s book:

Efraim Zuroff in Haaretz; Olga Zabludoff in Defending HistoryAllan Nadler in the ForwardDovid Katz in Algemeiner Journal


 

Vilnius, Lithuania, January 2012: Professor Antony Polonsky, one of the world’s leading historians of Polish Jewry, is awarded the Cross of the Officer of the Order for Merits to Lithuania by the president of the Republic of Lithuania HE Dalia Grybiauskaitė, after helping fudge the Rachel Margolis case and shifting by some degrees the acceptable definition of “genocide” to the liking of the Lithuanian government. Details here.

A few months later, the same honor guard welcomed to Lithuania, for reburial with full honors amid gala events, the remains of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister who signed papers confirming orders for Jewish citizens of his city, Kaunas, to be sent to a murder camp, and then for all the rest to be incarcerated in a ghetto within one month. There was no public comment from the decorated professor who went on to headline Lithuanian government sponsored PR roadshows in the United States.


 

Washington, DC, November 2011: Harley Felstein (right) is effectively crowned king of the (vassal) Litvaks by the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States (center) and his plenipotentiary (left). The “king” went on to co-author a PR op-ed that included a shocking pro-fascist reinterpretation of the history of the Holocaust (crediting the view that the initial murderers who unleashed the Lithuanian Holocaust were actually freedom fighters). It drew a swift response. More details in the comments section to a VilNews article, in a later discussion following a Forward article, and a DeeHist.com report.

UPDATE:

See now Paul Berger’s exposé in the Forward (as PDF).


Vilnius, Lithuania c. 2006. Rabbi Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee receives the Cross of the Officers Award of Merit from President Valdas Adamkus, who also used his tenure in office to rehabilitate an array of local Nazi war criminals. Details here. Rabbi Baker continues to lend “Jewish cred” to the “red-brown commission.” Resignations to date from the commission and its committee of experts include Sir Martin Gilbert (London), Prof. Gershon Greenberg (Washington, DC), Prof. Konrad Kwiet (Sydney) and Prof. Dov Levin (Jerusalem).

UPDATE: In 2012, the foreign minister of Lithuania followed up the previous president’s cross with a new award : the Lithuanian Star of Diplomacy. This foreign minister’s record included antisemitic outbursts, the infamous “moustache”  response to the Seventy Years Declaration, support for the state sponsored reburial with full honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister and publication of a plan to (ab)use the 2013 presidency of the European Union to push the “unified history” (i.e. red-brown-for-all) agenda.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) had this announcement on its website (screenshot of 11 October 2012):


 

Professor Evan Zimroth of the City University of New York (Queens College) is an accomplished author and educator with a long record of civic activity. Here she is awarded the millennial star at the Lithuanian consulate in New York by Foreign Minister Vygaudas Ušackas in September 2009 (see his 2011 published comments on the period of Nazi rule in Lithuania). She has since circulated personal attacks, complete with conspiratorial suppositions, against those who deign to criticize current Lithuanian government policies on Jewish affairs.


 

Vilnius, Lithuania, March 2006. Dr. Richard Maullin  honored at the event to unveil the new plaque in his honor naming the main study area of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute as the Richard Maullin Study Hall (in the absence of any endowment or capital sum to the university or its institutes). Dr. Maullin and his partner Natasha (Natalia) Yatskevich, and high figures from Vilnius University were in attendance. Dr. Maullin had a year earlier purchased the “shares” of the Yiddish institute for US $25,000 from Israeli resident Mendy Cahan, a co-founder of the institute. Dr. Maullin, recruited by Lithuanian government-friendly forces after the 2008 start of “The Troubles,” failed to even respond politely to letters of concern about the institute’s purges that were coming from Western ambassadors in 2009, and from the Israeli embassy. Maullin duly fulfilled the Lithuanian government’s “requirement” that his institute be purged to staff who disagree with the state’s Holocaust revisionism policies. Since 2010, his “Yiddish institute” has had no full-time Jewish members of academic staff, no full-time Yiddish specialist, and it has become a PR tool of the far right’s history-revisionism agenda.

A further crunch came in September 2012 when Vilnius University mounted a major exhibit by an antisemitic, homophobic artist a few yards from his institute. Dr. Maullin and his rump board of three (Daniel Berg of Bloomington, Indiana, Tina Lunson of DC, and Steven Spielberg’s brother-in-law Dan Opatoshu of Sherman Oaks, California), and his Yiddish institute’s non-Yiddish speaking remaining staff, remained silent. He and Ms. Yatskevich have been feted in Vilnius on numerous occasions. In recent years, he has been appointed by California’s Governor Jerry Brown to the California Independent System Operator Board of Governors. In December 2013, Dr. Berg resigned from the Board, leaving T. Lunson, R. Maullin, and D. Opatoshu.

Finally, after five years of maintaining a “purged Yiddish institute” that exists for Lithuanian government propaganda, Maullin received the highest accolade yet for his political loyalty. He was honored by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry (not the culture ministry….)  in California where the Foreign Minister of Lithuania put the Lithuanian Diplomatic Star around his neck, and he was photographed for posterity between the foreign minister and the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States, together with Mrs. Natasha Maullin and other guests (DH report).

foreign-minister-linkevicius-awarding-lithuanian-diplomatic-star-to-dr-68120474

Maullinhonored


 

Yiddish professors Dov-Ber Kerler (Bloomington, Indiana; also a famous poet) and Anna Verschik (Tallinn, Estonia) are featured on t-shirts extolling (in Yiddish) “Lithuania” and “Vilnius” as part of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute where both cheerfully cover each summer for Lithuanian nationalist officials’ disemployment of the institute’s founder and only resident Yiddish professor who was for years a Yiddish teacher of both t-shirt honorees. The political instrumentalization of Yiddish by far right state-sponsored bodies remains a concern for the fragile field of Yiddish studies, particularly in Eastern Europe.

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