Arkady Vinokur (Arkadijus Vinokuras), official Advisor on Jewish Affairs to the prime minister of Lithuania, published an article in today’s Lietuvos rytas expressing the view that a television interview given by this journal’s editor is ‘worthy of Goebbels’.
Vinokur, by trade a clown, humorist, and journalist, had previously faulted this journal, and been given full opportunity to respond. In its own response (accompanying an apology for an alleged mistranslation of his chosen term for a certain human function [the translator stands by his original translation]), DefendingHistory.com noted the absurdity of an official advisor on Jewish affairs who denies the legitimacy of the country’s living Jewish community.
To outsiders, it can all seem opaque. Locally it is quite simple.
The thousands of living Jews in the country are demonized as lackeys of Russia, while the handful (at most four or five nationalist fellow travelers), close to right-wing government circles, plays its desired role in return for honors, opportunities and benefits. This tiny group, led by member of parliament E. Zingeris, who resigned from the Jewish community back in the 1990s, is very keen to develop what is popularly called the ‘Dead-Jew Disneyland Theme Park’ in the former Vilna Ghetto area, a project that is deeply offensive to Holocaust survivors and their families. Fears have been voiced repeatedly about alleged efforts to divert any future restitution for prewar Jewish property away from the surviving Jewish community and toward the Disneyland-for-profit enterprise and its foreign backers, which include a coterie of architects, developers, politicians and others waiting for the hoped-for bonanza.
The handful of nationalist ‘Court Jews’ also serves to provide ‘Jewish cover’ for the red-equals-brown Holocaust Obfuscation movement. Member of parliament E. Zingeris even signed the Prague Declaration, which has been roundly condemned by Holocaust survivors and historians. Critics of the Prague Defamation are repeatedly defamed by this group, not least in Mr. Vinokur’s latest article.
Last December Mr. Vinokur condemned the Jewish community of Lithuania as being a tool of Moscow in an article duly noted on these pages on the day. The Jewish community responded rapidly.
In his latest salvo, published today in Lietuvos rytas, Vinokur writes (here in translation):
“And demagogues are ripping political capital for themselves from such mistakes. They go so far as to even call the defenders of the Prague Declaration ‘the red-brown movement’. Even so, such demagogues as the above-mentioned Dr. D. Katz, have appeared on the Russian Goebbels-worthy TV show ‘Russia Today’ that is pathologically and in a vicious circle criticizing the U.S.A.” […]
The interview on the RT television network which Mr. Vinokur thinks worthy of Goebbels may be viewed here.
In another gem of a paragraph, the clown turned prime minister’s Advisor on Jewish Affairs writes:
“I wonder what will Dr.Dovid Katz, who engages himself with demagogy on this topic and who has made the tragedy of the Holocaust a cheap propaganda tool, and E. Zuroff, who for some reasons instead of catching Nazis is busy spreading the Russian propaganda, will do now that the Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights submitted a proposal to recognize the responsibility of the Soviet Union for the crimes of the totalitarian regime?”
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (see the Operation Last Chance website), is a Holocaust historian, acclaimed author and longtime campaigner against efforts to distort the history of the Holocaust. That theme is closely integrated both with the very work of Nazi-hunting and the analysis of why some governments, including Lithuania’s, did so much to obstruct efforts to bring to justice suspected Nazi war criminals in fair trials in their home country, language and legal system (see Tomas Venclova’s pivotal comment). Dr. Zuroff, a native of New York who settled in Israel decades ago, is a lifelong opponent of the USSR’s human rights abuses, and was active in a number of campaigns on those issues. Accusing him of ‘towing Moscow’s line’ for objecting to the Baltic far right’s attempts to distort the Holocaust is itself a rather apt example of the ultranationalist demagoguery now in vogue in some East European circles (see for example here).
This journal provides pages on the Prague Declaration, and responses to the document, as well as the urgent necessity of commemoration and education on Soviet crimes.