Registry of Opposition to “The National Convention Center” Atop the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Šnipiškės)
A“designer menorah” proposed as an official “new Litvak logo” featuring the candelabrum’s center replaced by a Lithuanian national symbol that is perfectly legitimate but has in recent years frequently been adopted by neo-Nazi and far-right nationalist groups? One that is also at the center of the logo of the far-right organization that sponsored a demonstration defaming 95 year old Holocaust survivor (and anti-Nazi partisan hero) Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky just a few months ago? One over which women’s rights campaigners have been prosecuted in recent years (at the whim of far-right groups) for “desecrating”? One which a far right political candidate has used on his poster along with swastikas?
The official Lithuanian Jewish Community website, lavishly financed in three languages by the restitution-funded “Good Will Foundation” has this week featured on its English and Lithuanian pages the design, under the headline A New Litvak Logo. The accompanying unsigned editorial purporting to represent the “Jewish community” boasts with some potentially obsequious glee that the Justice Ministry has graciously given the community “permission” to use the symbol in its “Jewish” logo, going on to announce for the benefit of readers that incorporating the symbol “into a Litvak logo makes perfect sense” and indeed, to warn any would-be copycats that this dazzling invention is being “patented”. There is no mention anywhere about any local Jewish people (in other words the members of the community in whose name various pronouncements are being made) being surveyed, questioned or consulted.
Lithuanian Jewry may be small and fragile but it is vibrant as ever. The first published protest came within minutes of its publication in the “Motke Chabad” blog on the website of the Vilnius Russian-language publication Obzor [update: following this article, a report appeared in Izrus.il].
I am inspired by the deep feelings which have been stirred amongst Litvaks regarding the fate of the Vilnius Sports Palace built on top of the Jewish cemetery. I wish for our state of Lithuania to do its utmost on behalf of Lithuanians to restore the Jewish cemetery in Vilnius as a symbol of our aspiration for the closest friendship between Lithuanians and Jews. I realized that it would be most helpful for me to present my thoughts in Lithuanian.
“From the top of Gediminas Castle, do we want to see and cherish, for hundreds of years to come, what the Communist Party Chief saw (the Sports Palace) or what the Grand Duke of Lithuania saw (the Jewish cemetery)?”
Back in 2009, a rancorous dispute over the old Vilna Jewish cemetery was ostensibly solved. Two new buildings, despite worldwide protests, would be allowed to remain, and in return, no more land would be pilfered from the cemetery at Piramónt, in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The burial ground goes back to the late fifteenth century, at least. After the Holocaust, with virtually no descendants left to worry about, Soviet authorities helped themselves to the gravestones for use in building projects, but left many thousands of graves intact. A galaxy of eminent European rabbinic scholars and authors were buried there. But once the 2009 “Peace of Piramónt” was brokered (with help from Western embassies here), emotions cooled as all sides got on with their lives.
For many years, international visitors to Rokiškis (in Yiddish: Rákishok, or less formally: Rákeshik), in northeastern Lithuania, have remarked that the town’s central area seemed to preserve little (or no) trace or commemoration of its erstwhile Jewish population, though a large monument now graces the entrance to the old Jewish cemetery outside town. Before the Holocaust, this town was home to around 3,500 Jews (some 40% of the total population, and the overwhelming majority in its central area). Luckily, a short film of pre-Holocaust Jewish Rákishok survives (from 1937), and is available on Youtube. Thanks to Polish film maker Tomek Wisniewski for circulating the link in recent days.
NEW YORK—A spokesperson for the rabbinic delegation from the United States, Israel and Europe that came to plea for a reprieve for the old Jewish cemetery in Vilnius issued the following press release upon completion of the group’s meetings. Its content contrasts sharply with the BNS report published in various Lithuanian media today.
VILNIUS—A rabbinic delegation visited Vilnius yesterday and met the authorities to plea with them to cancel plans to construct a congress hall on Šnipiškės Jewish cemetery. The Šnipiškės cemetery was established over five centuries ago, and it interred the most famous Jewish leaders of Vilnius.
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—The high rabbinical court of the most populous Hasidic group in the world, Satmar, today released to the media the text of its judgment of 6 July 2015 calling on the Lithuanian government to abandon its multimillion dollar convention center project in the heart of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery. The bilingual text, in rabbinic Hebrew and English, also calls on the American government to exert its influence to save the thousands of graves on the site from further desecration. The document was further signed, with an added note, by Satmar grand rabbi (der Sátmerer Rébe) Yekusiel Yehuda Teitelbaum on 10 July 2015.
“We were horrified to hear that the government of Lithuania intends to renovate an abandoned building in the heart of the ancient cemetery of Vilna, and turn it into a place of assemblage and entertainment; and invest a huge sum of money to make it into an attraction for the masses from their country and worldwide.”
— from the Satmar Rabbinic Court’s ruling
Šią savaitę mes, žydai, minėjome tragiškiausią mūsų tautos istorijos datą — Tiša b’Av (jidiš: Tišebov) — abiejų Jeruzalės Šventyklų sugriovimą. Gedulą ir netekties skausmą išreiškiame pasninkaudami. Sėdėdama ant grindų ir skaitydama Kinojs knygą (gedulingas elegijas), mąsčiau ir apie tradiciją šią dieną lankyti mūsų didžių išminčių kapus.
Vilniuje ši tradicija buvo puoselėjama lankant Piramont kapines, kuriose per penkis šimtmečius palaidoti šimtai tūkstančių mano protėvių — Vilniaus žydų, tarp jų iškilių rabinų ir išminčių, palikusių neišsemiamus išminties lobius mums, siekiantiems kilniai ir dorai eiti gyvenimo keliu. Per jų nuopelnus bus, duok Dieve, pagreitintas Trečiosios Šventyklos atstatymas.
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.
Readers on several continents again report to Defending History that the Jerusalem Post has failed to post perfectly polite comments to yet another ecstatic ode to issueless Lithuanian-Jewish love. This time it’s the story “Growing Lithuanian Business Ties Beget Political Support” which reported on the recent visit to Israel of the Lithuanian Minister for the Economy Evaldas Gustas.
The rejected comments pointed out that a senior specialist employed at his ministry was exposed last spring as Lithuania’s most hateful internet blogger, responsible for a series of images disparaging to Jews, Blacks, Gays, and to the history of the Holocaust in Lithuania (sampling of images here). Our Open Letter to the minister essentially asks why the hateful top official is still in office. Is such a question taboo for a major English language daily in Israel?
According to a BNS news report released today (full text below), the Lithuanian prime minister’s advisor Mykolas Majauskas reported that discussions were held with Glencore’s CEO Ivan Glasenberg concerning plans to inspire more Litvaks to invest in the country. Mr. Majauskas also claimed that “some Litvaks are considering buying farms in Lithuania in order to take active part in communal activities.”
DefendingHistory.com takes the view that Litvak investment should progress in tandem with genuine progress on Lithuanian-Jewish issues, and not as long as the present “dual-track” (“double game”) policies continue to be applied. Ruses attempted have on occasion entailed usurpation of the Litvak identity by government agencies.
Holocaust survivors Shlomo Cheskov (left, from Shavl/Šiauliai), and Joseph Melamed (from Kovno/Kaunas) at the Tel Aviv demonstration. Mr. Cheskov’s sign says (in Yiddish) “With our partisan heroes, against neo-Nazism. We are here!” Mr. Melamed’s (in Hebrew) addressed to the South African businessmen diners at the gala dinner: “Dear Diners! Where is your conscience? Your solidarity with Holocaust survivors and resistance fighters and partisans?” Photo: Bella Bryks-Klein.
I commend Didier Bertin’s knowledgeable and sensitive observations in his article “Lithuania and the Memory of the Holocaust.” My comments here are more in the form of a PS to Mr. Bertin’s words. My take-off point is his reference to the term “Double Genocide,” a government-endorsed concept that has been bandied about in Lithuanian political circles in recent times. But more about this later. Mr. Bertin borrows the term for application in a different dual context: the original genocide of the Jewish people and the current movement on the part of the Lithuanian government to neutralize if not to obliterate the remembrance of the Holocaust.
Antisemitism Conferences or Studies = Obfuspeak for events and publications that are guaranteed to exclude any mention of contemporary local antisemitism at the point of production, but will feature excellent glossy brochures on the past and on intolerance in faraway lands
Blizzard = Obfuspeak for when Estonia opts out of Obfuscationist documents and inches away from the expected Baltic positions
(It’s) Complicated = Obfuspeak for intentional confounding of the distinction between perpetrator and victim, and for efforts to confuse and confound issues
Double-Genocider = (usually state-paid or favored) disseminator of Double Genocide revisionism, often camouflaged by ‘Jewish’ and ‘Yiddish’ events and by Holocaust Studies per se
Double Genocide Industry → Genocide Industry
Dual Citizenzhip = Obfuspeak for the notion that massive numbers of foreign Jews of Litvak origin are clamoring for Lithuanian citizenship only in order to stake claims for property or compensation and without any wish to invest in the country
Empty Jewish Addresses = addresses in Vilnius dedicated to the Jewish heritage but lacking in any genuine Jewish people, culture or knowledge
Equal Evaluation of Totalitarian Regimes = Obfuspeak for → Holocaust Obfuscation / Double Genocide
Ethnic and national symbols = Obfuspeak for: swastikas
Fragments / Fragmentai = government project to restore ‘fragments’ of the Jewish quarter (/Vilna Ghetto) area, possibly with diverted Restitution funds, for PR and tourism, in the absence of clear support either from the Jewish community or from the current residents of the area.
Freedom of the Press = Obfuspeak for license for the mass media’s extreme antisemitic and homophobic incitement
Genocide = Obfuspeak for all crimes by states, which are inherently and necessarily equal (slogan: ‘Killing is killing’)
Genocide Advisor to the Prime Minister = formal Jewish advisor who will go along with Holocaust Obfuscation and Double Genocide while providing ‘Jewish cover’
Genocide Center = Obfuspeak for → a center interested in all except the one genocide that occurred in the country where it is located
Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania = Obfuspeak for the Research Center for Holocaust Obfuscation and Double Genocide, the most prestigious institution in town, providing ambitious academics with excellent prospects for income, publications and rapid elevation to the higher realms of politics and frequent foreign travel. When pressed by the public to nevertheless account for the murder of 200,000 Jewish citizens, the Center is quick to explain the situation. → Genocide Center
Genocide Industry = the collective institutional, financial, political, academic and media power of the Genocide Center, the Genocide Museum, the Red-Brown Commission, various history departments, faculties and institutes, and politicians and state agencies concerned with promoting Double Genocide and Holocaust revisionism
Genocide Museum = Obfuspeak for a museum interested in all but the one genocide that occurred in the country where it is located
Green House = Holocaust museum that provides an accurate history, and is invisible from any street
Holocaust Memorial Year 2011 = Obfuspeak for a year of commemoration for the Holocaust that is simultaneously a year of commemoration for the perpetrators who launched the Lithuanian Holocaust in 1941, including a documentary film on the LAF
Holocaust Remembrance Day = September 23rd in Lithuania, marking the Germans’ liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto in 1943; rather than the international day, January 27th, marking the day Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army, or a day recommended by Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors, e.g. October 29th, date of the largest one-day massacre in Baltic history, when the Great Action was carried out at Kaunas’s Ninth Fort in 1941; or August 28th, marking the week in 1941 when seven entire age-old Jewish communities were totally annihilated, in both cases with massive voluntary local participation.
Human Rights = Obfuspeak for antisemitic tirades, particularly against Holocaust survivors, by major local ‘Human Rights’ organizations
Hypnotize = Obfuspeak for total psychological control of a → UJI
International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes = Obfuspeak for Red-Equals-Brown Commission → Holocaust Obfuscation / Double Genocide
June 23rd → June Uprising
June Uprising = Obfuspeak for the onset of the Lithuanian Holocaust on 22-23 June 1941 at the hands of ‘local rebels’ who began the campaign of barbarity and murder against innocent Jewish neighbors that continued uninterrupted until the achievement of the annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry. [Historical note: the Soviet army was fleeing the Nazi invasion, not the Lithuanian Activist Front (L.A.F.) ‘rebels’ who were busy initiating the Holocaust, and whose earlier leaflets set out exactly what they had in mind for the Jewish citizens of their country.]
Left = Obfuspeak for anyone not of the New Far Right
Lenin Theme Park = Obfuspeak for a park for communist statues with historic signposting blaming the Jews for communism and particularly anti-Nazi Jewish partisans for sabotaging Lithuania during the war
Liberal = Obfuspeak for anyone not of the New Far Right
Liberastas = Far Right’s insulting term for a liberal, on the model of ‘pederast’
Lithuanian Swastika = swastika with added lines purportedly signifying the Pillars of Gediminas, a classic Grand Duchy of Lithuania symbol, especially unfortunate as Grank Duke Gediminas, who established Vilna, has been remembered for many centuries by Jews and other minorities as a symbol of tolerance, ingathering of peoples and peaceful multicultural coexistence with the rights of minorities guaranteed
Litvak = Obfuspeak for a non-Litvak, usually a Lithuanian government official, compromised academic or associated businessman wanting to cash in on one or another of the Fake Litvak projects; occasionally also a Western Jew awarded glory by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry and recruited to government PR efforts; → Identity Theft
Litvak Forum = Obfuspeak for a forum run by non-Litvaks for the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry in the hope of attracting ‘rich Litvaks’ to support projects that would cover for Holocaust Obfuscation. Comment by the Litvak Studies Institute here. ALSO, a well-meaning forum for non-Litvaks and Litvaks who can be relied on to abstain from serious criticism of the Lithuanian government on Jewish issues, and to paper over serious dialogue on the actual issues (that could lead to harmony) with PR. We are following the emerging term ‘Government Litvak’. Watch this space.
Looted Books Room = Emerging popular name in Vilnius for the proposed room for looted prewar Yivo books and archives which the Lithuanian government has refused to return to Yivo.
May 5th = the day in 2008 when police came looking for Holocaust Survivors Dr Rachel Margolis and Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, considered by some to be the lowpoint of modern Lithuanian history
May 9th = the day marking the formal defeat of Nazi Germany in the East (1945), which World War II veterans and their families and Holocaust Survivors and their families would wish to celebrate as before, but often feel intimidated since the 2008 law prohibiting ‘Nazi and Soviet symbols‘.
Museum of Genocide Victims = Obfuspeak for the Museum of Soviet Crimes that completely ignores (a) the one local genocide that occurred and (b) glorifies the murderers who launched the Holocaust in Lithuania
‘1940 came before 1941′ = the Double Genociders’ claim that the genocide of 1941 was a roughly proportionate reaction to the ‘genocide’ of Soviet (‘Soviet-Jewish’ in antisemitic parlance) rule of 1940-1941
Partisan = Obfuspeak for Baltic Holocaust perpetrators of 1941 who initiated the Baltic Holocaust before the Germans even arrived, in concord with the wishes of the arriving / just-arrived new Nazi occupiers. Glorified as freedom fighters by the new Far Right
Patriotic = Obfuspeak for affiliation with neo-Nazism
Patriotic Slogan = Obfuspeak for: Žydai—lauk, Juden raus etc, particularly at parades on major thoroughfares on national holidays
Pogrom = Obfuspeak for Holocaust mass murder constituting the onset of genocide, by local killers in Lithuania, predating the establishment of German administration in numerous localities
Prague Process = Obfuspeak for → Holocaust Obfuscation / Double Genocide
Pre-trial Investigation = Obfuspeak for government action to defame dissidents or veteran Jewish anti-Nazi partisans without having to ever charge or clear the targets
Rabinowitz-Dorf the situation = to use expensive American PR techniques to legitimize → Fake Litvaks and → Holocaust Obfuscation
Red-Brown Jailtime Law, passed by the Lithuanian parliament in June 2010 and signed by the president, threatening up to two years in prison for those who would deny Nazi or Soviet genocide (hence those who would deny that Soviet crimes rise to genocide, or would deny equivalence).
Respectability for hire = the disbursement of grants by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry and its embassies to naive (or unscrupulous) prestigious academic and cultural institutions and museums to stage ‘Lithuanian-Jewish events’ as cover for the policies pursued in Lithuania and the European Union
Restitution = Obfuspeak for → Disneyland Ghetto Theme Park
Restitution Advisor to the Prime Minister = formal Jewish advisor who will go along with Disneyland Remnants, expounding to the press about the ‘French Model’, while providing ‘Jewish cover’
Russian lackey = Obfuspeak for someone who disagrees with the far-right revisionism of World War II history
Sarašas = the list of alleged Holocaust perpetrators previously on the website of an Israeli organization of survivors from Lithuania
Single Double Genocide = the double game of demanding equalization of Nazi and Soviet crimes in the European Parliament, while locally, in museums and research centers, reserving the term ‘genocide’ for Soviet crimes alone
So-called Lithuanian-Jewish relations = a term coined by Professor Sara Ginaitė for events and programs that cover for the lack of dialogue about the actual issues, and replace them with artificial declarations of harmony and dialogue with artificially picked panels and conclaves
Spousal illness = the legal concept devised by a Vilnius court to enable the one Nazi war criminal ever convicted in independent Lithuania, Algimantas Dailidė, to escape even minor symbolic punishment on the grounds that his wife was ill at the time of the conviction
Stockholm Programme = European Union edifice into which the Red=Brown Campaign, led by Lithuania’s foreign minister, attempted to insert Double Genocide; they were repudiated by the EU in December 2010
Sunflower Litvak = Obfuspeak for American Jewish stand-ins for representatives of the Litvak community anointed by the ambassador of Lithuania in Washington in a grand ceremony
Swasticals = the family of symbols similar to or reminding the viewer of the swastika, including the → ‘Lithuanian Swastika’ with the added lines purported to signify the Pillars of Gediminas
Swastika = Obfuspeak for an ancient Baltic symbol of the sun, that should not nowadays, Heaven forbid, be mistaken as a current omen of neo-Nazism, racism or antisemitism, by ruling of a Lithuanian court in 2010
Tale of Two Brents = Term of description for the occasional confusion between the perhaps-soon-to-be-capitulated Yivo property library (on the initiative of Jonathan Brent) and the Vilnius Jewish Library (created and assembled by Wyman Brent)
Talibans = Term of derision used by self-proclaimed ‘moderates’ to describe both the Far Right antisemitic establishment and — the surviving Litvaks and their spokespeople
Talibanization = Stigmatization of the views of the Holocaust Survivor community and the Western narrative of World War II as extremist and in the spirit of terrorism
Thought Police = Obfuspeak for those who speak out against racism, homophobia and antisemitism
Tolerastas = Far Right’s insulting term for an advocate for Tolerance, on the model of ‘pederast’
Totalitarian = Obfuspeak for all aspects of the Nazi and Soviet regimes, which are ipso facto found to be equivalent
UJIs (Useful Jewish Idiots) from abroad who can be persuaded with medals, junkets, honors and sundry favors, including funding for serious projects
Violence = Obfuspeak for Holocaust trivialization, implying mutual violence and the supposed inherent equivalence of all violence
(To) vinokurize = mobilize Jewish citizens to act against the local Jewish community
Woodward Bernstein = a financial analyst who follows the money trail of Fake Litvaks in the US
Yiddish Institute = Obfuspeak for an institute without Yiddish or one that helps antisemitic elements in the government get rid of the country’s last Jewish professor.
Yiddish Studies professor = Obfuspeak for a professor of anything but Yiddish who purports to speak for Jewish causes, projecting ‘Jewish legitimacy’ by use of the cuddly term ‘Yiddish’
(To) zingerize = confuse the issues by simultaneous pursuit of contradictory goals for different audiences
Zuroff (Lith. Zurofas or Zuroffas; Lat. Zurofs) = a proud Litvak who asks that truth be told about the Holocaust and who seeks justice for the annihilated Lithuanian Jewry in the form of fair trials for alleged perpetrators in their own country; a dreaded nightmare for the Holocaust Obfuscation movement, hence a term of derision for a Jew in contemporary antisemitic discourse in the Baltics
Abandonment of the state’s financing of the campaign to obfuscate the Holocaust by means of its Double Genocide campaign, including “cooked” international events, conferences, film screenings and panel discussions; withdrawal of formal state support for the Prague Declaration and similar projects, closing down of the “red-brown commission” and the inauguration of an atmosphere of full freedom for citizens and organizations to support alternatives including the Seventy Years Declaration. Holocaust history to be included in historically accurate proportionality in the Genocide Museum and all relevant tourist locations that deal with genocide. Abandonment of the extensive state sponsored program to glorify the local Holocaust perpetrators of 1941, including the “Lithuanian Activist Front” (LAF), whose leaflets indicated desire to murder the country’s Jewish citizens even before arrival of Nazi forces. Rapid correction of the mischaracterization of the early local perpetrators as supposedly heroic rebels in the new basement room on the Holocaust in the Genocide Museum.
Most urgent in the correction of Holocaust distortion (and inversion) is the urgent need for removal of all street names and plaques, and public monuments and memorials to Holocaust collaborators (petition). The reversal of course became ever more urgent in 2012 with the state-sponsored reburial with full honors and accompanying glorification of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister and the re-launch of the red-brown commission. The summer of 2015 saw a renewed effort for the removal of plaques honoring one Holocaust perpetrator (J. Noreika) in central Vilnius, and 2016 has seen a litany of requests that the mayor of Vilnius and the nation’s president and PM speak up for replacing a street name in the capital’s center named for another Holocaust collaborator (K. Skirpa).
Written public apologies for the defamed and slandered Jewish Holocaust survivors, including three Israeli citizens (background here; international responses here): Dr. Yitzhak Arad; Ms. Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky; Professor Sara Ginaite; Dr. Rachel Margolis (1921-2015); Mr. Joseph Melamed (1924-2017); Professor Pinchos Fridberg. It was a major and unwelcome shock in the autumn of 2011 that a new and unseemly campaign (via Interpol) had been launched against Holocaust survivor and Litvak leader Joseph Melamed of Tel Aviv. Then came the renewed defamation of Dr. Arad in late 2012. In 2013, the head of the state’s own “red-brown commission” went on to defame Professor Pinchos Fridberg, followed up in 2015 with further defamation of Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky and in spring 2017 with a massive new campaign underpinned by a shameful public statement from the Genocide Center, and a new media frenzy. The climate would be improved exponentially by the simple gesture of a letter of apology and recognition for lifetime achievement for the inspiring contributions of these Lithuanian Jewish survivors of the Holocaust from the current president or prime minister, such as once provided by the late eminent president Algirdas Brazauskas, before the state’s campaign of defamation got underway. The ultimate issue is of unjust defamation for history and in perpetuity along with the concomitant distortion of history (see for example final part of a review of a recent major history book).
Commitment to the simple truth, for example in a low-cost Information Board or plaque about (a) the erstwhile Jewish population’s volume, cultural history and contributions; and (b) its destruction in the Holocaust in the town center of every city and town (not just at the mass grave sites “for the Jews who come in the summer”). In the case of Vilnius and Kaunas, there is an absolute need, in addition to monuments with accurate texts, for city-center Holocaust museums that are wholly accurate and not under the control of the Genocide Center, red-brown commission or other state entities dedicated in part or whole to Double Genocide revisionism.
Serious action to combat the growing state-sponsored (or state-tolerated) antisemitic activity in the country, including: mass media hate material worthy of 1930s fascist countries; city-center state-sanctioned neo-Nazi marches on national holidays in Vilnius and Kaunas; derogatory public impersonations of Jews and Roma at public Užgavėnės celebrations; court rulings legalizing swastika displays; state-sponsored institutions’ failure to disemploy their own outspoken antisemitic activists; antisemitic exhibits in the state sponsored Genocide Museum in central Vilnius and the Gruto Parkas theme park near Druskininkai; failure of officials to condemn mainstream organizations that issue antisemitic statements (e.g. the Lithuanian Human Rights Association); failure of officials to acknowledge and encourage apprehension of the culprits of major antisemitic desecration of Holocaust and Jewish sites; failure of the former foreign minister to apologize for his 2010 antisemitic tirade (reported also on LithChat), which drew a statement of protest from the small remnant Jewish community in Lithuania. Specific 2014-2015 issues: failure to call for the resignations of “Zeppelinus” and the head of the parliament’s budget committee.
Action to repeal the 2010 legislation that would punish with prison sentences up to two years those who would not agree to (in effect) equalizing Soviet and Nazi crimes by regarding the former, in Lithuania, as not amounting to genocide. This law is an affront to democracy and open society, and has already intimidated liberal and Western oriented voices in the country. The people of Lithuania deserve the same level of freedom and democracy as all other people in NATO, the European Union and the OSCE. That freedom includes the equal right to support inter alia the Seventy Years Declaration.
Commitment to preserve as a world heritage site Lithuania’s last Jewish anti-Nazi underground fort which is rapidly disappearing because of failure to take elementary steps to ensure preservation for future generations.
Respect for equal human rights includes respect for Jewish heritage objects being equal to that in play for Christian and ethnic Lithuanian heritage objects. Major 2017 issue is the plan to further desecrate Vilnius’s old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district) with a $25,000,000 convention center. Objections and protests have come from far and wide, including members of the local Jewish community, its rabbis, Litvak and non-Litvak rabbis internationally, and numerous Jewish and Christian friends of Lithuania. The simple solution is rapidly to move the convention center project to another venue in Vilnius where it can be a source of pride and joy for all the peoples of the city and beyond.
Vilnius, 1 November 2017
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.