VILNIUS—Yet again, a conference here in the Lithuanian capital dedicated to combating fascism and antisemitism is announced, without there having been a public call for papers, without a single speaker from among those who actually combat fascism and antisemitism in the country, with nobody from the democratically elected Vilnius Jewish community (not even the long-time editor of Jerusalem of Lithuania who has exposed and combated antisemitism for decades). No Holocaust survivors. None of the nationally relevant questions of the day can be found on the conference program. As ever, outstanding academic personalities from abroad are recruited to lend the gravitas and provide serious papers on an array of topics (which they admirably do), as long as these have little directly to do with the actual contemporary issues here in Lithuania (but the conference introduction by Prof. Dovilė Budrytė does indeed touch on some of the issues, which seem, however, to be largely absent from the actual conference program). The last such event, in 2015, resulted in the Norwegian Embassy withdrawing support and launching an inquiry on behalf of the EEA (European Economic Area) funders of that event.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016)
Tagged antisemitism conference, Antisemitism in Lithuania, Chaim Bargman, Dovilė Budrytė, EEA, Evaldas Balciunas, fascism in Lithuania, Israeli Embassy in Vilnius, Leonas Kaplanas, Milan Chersonski, Racism in Lithuania, Ruta Vanagaite, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevicius), Zeppelinus
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?
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Human Rights, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, 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, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016)
Tagged Andrew Baker, Aryeh Bucheister, Faina Kukliansky, Geoff Vasil, Herbert Block, Lithuanian Jewish Community, Michael Hilsenrath, Nachliel Dison, Reuven Dessler, Ruta Vanagaite, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevicius), Zeppelinus
VILNIUS—The pseudonymous neo-Nazi blogger “Zeppelinus,” long alleged to be the alias of a high official in the Ministry of the Economy (DH still awaits a reply to our open letter of 2013 to the relevant minister), is notorious for his racist, antisemitic, and homophobic images that continue to needlessly damage Lithuania’s good name (sampling at end of article). This web journal’s editor has long been one of his many photoshop and photofake targets, naturally a source of pride for any and all within Vilnius’s bona fide human rights community. As some Lithuanian human rights activists put it, “If you didn’t make it into Zeppelinus’s sicko gallery, you’re not really doing enough for human rights in this country.”
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Racism
Tagged Antisemitism in Lithuania, human rights in Lithuania, Lithuanian Ministry of Economy, Lithuanian Ministry of Finance, Zeppelinus
VILNIUS—Defending History has still had no reply to its open letter of August 2013 to the Minister of the Economy, asking him to look into multiple media reports that the pseudonymous “Zeppelinus,” Lithuania’s best-known purveyor of hate-popart on the internet is indeed a senior civil servant in his own ministry. The issue came to the fore once again in recent weeks with his “appeal” to the head of the Jewish community, and his latest production following a recent controversial conference (conference report).
The following are samples of his “art” in the service of racism, misogyny, homophobia, antisemitism alongside glorification of Nazism. Samples can readily be found for other prejudices, including anti-Polish and anti-Russian hate. Hopefully human rights organizations will continue to counter such materials, first and foremost by establishing, in partnership with law enforcement, the identity of the purveyor of the hate materials, and the answer to the question about alleged continued high employment in a government ministry. An earlier smaller sampling with full translation is available here. Full disclosure: This journal’s editor has on occasion been a target of Mr. Zeppelinus, too.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Russian Speakers' Personal Status, UŽGAVĖNĖS (SHROVETIDE), Women's Rights
Tagged Antisemitism in Lithuania, Economy Ministry of Lithuania, homophobia in Lithuania, human rights in Lithuania, LGBT rights in Lithuania, misogyny in Lithuania, Zeppelinus
O P I N I O N / E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T
by Geoff Vasil
On Friday, September 13, 2013, the Baltos Lankos publishing firm in Vilnius held a discussion at their main book sales outlet in Vilnius to present a book edited by Professor Jurgita Verbickienė about the Jews of Lithuania.
The discussion on this doubly auspicious day—eve of Yom Kippur and Friday the 13th—began with Verbickienė presenting a short sketch of the book and two other participants in the discussion, Zigmas Vitkus and Simonas Gurevičius. The latter is the executive director of the Lithuanian Jewish Community. The topic was how Lithuanians view Jews.
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Books, Events, Geoff Vasil, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory
Tagged Jurgita Verbickiene, Lietuvos zydai, Zeppelinus
O P I N I O N
Original 2 May 2013 report; Person identified by the media submits 13 May 2013 complaint to the Press Commission [draft English translation], citing Anarchija.lt, Balsas.lt, KaunoŽinios.lt, Lrytas.lt as well as DefendingHistory.com. He does not deny the identification but disputes the characterization of his work as in harmony with neo-Nazism.
23 July update: Zeppelinus greets Baltic Pride with a new hate image.
Dear Mr. Gustas,
Congratulations on your recent appointment as Economy Minister. May your tenure be blessed with success, wisdom and good fortune for all of Lithuania’s citizens.
We address you on the advent of your tenure on a human rights matter rather than an economic question. We feel certain you would agree that there is a demonstrable correlation between the long-term successful economies of the world and free and open democratic societies that reject all forms of state-supported fascism, racism, antisemitism, homophobia and other forms of hate and exclusionism directed at segments of the population.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Dovid Katz, EU, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Racism, Russian Speakers' Personal Status
Tagged Antisemitism, Evaldas Gustas, homophobia in Lithuania, Human Rights, human rights in Lithuania, racism, Zeppelinus
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
The leading neo-Nazi blogger in Lithuania, “Zeppelinus,” who was unmasked several months ago by a number of publications as a high official at the Ministry for the Economy and chairman of the nation’s Tripartite Commission, did not deny the identification.
Instead, quite incredibly, he complained to the press commission against those who would dare deem to be unacceptable his hateful racist, antisemitic, homophobic and pro-fascist productions.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Racism
Tagged Antisemitism in Lithuania, Gay Rights (LGBT) in Lithuania, homophobia, racism, Zeppelinus