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Israeli Foreign Policy and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe (1990 — 2021)

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The Latest in Defending History

TITLES ONLY

Israel’s Ambassador Joel Lion in Kiev

Israel’s Ambassador Joel Lion in Ukraine Boldly Condemns Annual Parade Glorifying Holocaust Collaborator Stepan Bandera; JTA’s Cnaan Liphshiz Reports

But at same time, Israeli Foreign Ministry colludes  to silence dialogue on glorification of Holocaust collaborators in Lithuania (including the “naming of 2021”); Wiesenthal Center’s Dr. Zuroff protests in Jerusalem Post

Lithuanian Parliament’s dedication of 2021 to memory of J. Lukša, alleged Kaunas 1941 killer is little mentioned after early protests by WJC’s Dr. Laurence Weinbaum, and Yakov Faitelson, son of legendary escaper from Ninth Fort. Defending History’s take, chronology of the debate, and alternative dedication of 2021. Even the usually hesitant official Jewish community, and its AJC partner, spoke out

SEE HISTORY OF ISRAELI GOV’S STANCE ON THE ISSUES; 2017 “LOWPOINT” IN ISRAELI DIPLOMATIC HISTORY


Vilma Fiokla Kiurė: Updates on Women’s Issues in Lithuania

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Defending History’s Persons of the Year 2021

Dovid Katz on Uniqueness of the First Week of the Lithuanian Holocaust (on its 80th Anniversary)

Commemorate Victims and Savers, Not Perpetrators”

See also: Dovid Katz’s webinar at the Jewish Holocaust Center in Melbourne, Australia on “Writing the Holocaust Out of History (without denying a single death)”

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Andrius Kulikauskas Reports: Major Success in Campaign to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from Convention Center Desecration; Follows up with BNS Press Release

Lithuanian Parliament Nixes Convention Project’s Budget for 2021

 Julius Norwilla conceived this Star of David as a symbol of fellowship for November 1, 2020, the traditional day for visiting cemeteries throughout Lithuania. From left: Andrius Kulikauskas, Ruta Bloshtein, Povilas Birbilas, Vanda Birbilienė and Julius Norwilla stand in front with a bag of stones. Edmundas Kulikauskas and Arkadij Kurliandchik stand on the bank of the Neris with the Sports Palace behind them. Photo: William Adan Pahl.


Are US Tax Dollars Really Going for Glorification of Holocaust Collaborators in Ukraine?


Vilma Fiokla Kiurė on the Fate of a Roma Boy in Vilnius

Dovid Katz’s lecture on “Writing the Holocaust out of History?” at the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne, Australia now on Youtube (PP presentation online)

Defending History’s editor is named to Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life in 2020 at @Algemeiner’s annual banquet (#J100) in New York City. DH’s campaign to save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery is cited.

Are Authorities in Latvia Trying to Shut Down Riga’s Famous Outdoor Holocaust Museum?

Petition is Launched

Yakov Faitelson Calls on the Lithuanian Parliament to Reconsider Decision to Name 2021 in Honor of Alleged Participant in Kaunas Atrocities of June 1941

Participation of honoree witnessed in both Kaunas Garage Massacre and the beheading of Rabbi Zalmen Osovsky. See chronology of the 2020 debate. Yakov Faitelson joins protests by Defending History, Dr. Laurence Weinbaum (World Jewish Congress),  Rabbi Andrew Baker (American Jewish Committee) and Ms. Faina Kukliansky (head of official Jewish Community of Lithuania).


“Lithuania’s Liveliest Cemetery”

♦ Prof. Josifas Parasonis of Vilnius, professor of building sciences uses science, common sense and humanity to come to a simple conclusion

♦ Julius Norwilla, head of Committee for Piramónt, exposes huge budget hole being made to put convention center project on top of the cemetery

Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, editor of Respect Cemeteries, calls on readers to write to Lithuanian parliament’s budget masters by Nov. 10th deadline

♦ Next Vilnius District Court Hearing on Fate of the Cemetery is on November 24th

Eyewitness reports on recent hearings:

1 October Vilnius hearing;  6 Oct. hearing;

Earlier report on stance of European Foundation for Human Rights. Reports in Algemeiner Journal and Jerusalem Post.

Defending History was there…


Trending in Defending…

Does the president’s PR team really want big posters of Holocaust collaborators at his rallies?



Defending History’s 12th year gets underway. . .

Founded on 6 Sept. 2009. Emailed circulars and reports from 2008-2009 were then uploaded making for a record starting in 2008, A dozen years of posts provide a unique record.

ON OUR PAGES

10 years ago.  7 years ago.  5 years ago.  3 years ago.

Contributions in the United States are now fully tax-deductible via the new nonprofit Preserving Yiddish and Defending History.


Making Heroes out of Holocaust Collaborators: Spreading to the West?

Does Vilnius Really Need ‘Convention Center in the Jewish Cemetery’?

Will an EU Member Parliament Really Name 2021 for Alleged Participant in 1941 Kaunas Atrocities?

Tragic Fate of Inspirationally Brave Lithuanian Rescuers

Lithuanian Jewish Commmunity: ‘Concern’ over Appointment of Genocide Center Deputy Head who Specializes in Whitewashing Holocaust Crimes of 1941 Hitlerist LAF and Nazi Puppet Provisional Gov.

US contributions for defending history are now tax-deductible


″The Power of the Ancient Hebrew Letters”

Arkady Kurliandchik and Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas lead a group in partnership with the Vilnius Jewish Community, in placing stones with Hebrew letters painted  in the traditional gold paint (used to highlight lettering in old Lithuanian Jewish / Litvak gravestones) at the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Šnipiškės / Shnípeshok), site of the abandoned Soviet sports palace and a planned national convention center. Thousands of graves are still there all around the building. The new gold-lettered Jewish stones were variously placed to mark out the approximate perimeter of the cemetery.

Stone lettering and photos: Andrius Kulikauskas

 

Vilnius Jewish Community’s Pre-Tíshebov Event at the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery on 29 July. More on the event: Andrius Kulikauskas

Recent News:

Vilnius City Council rushes through decision for convention center with annex in heart of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery.  Julius Norwilla reports from VilniusRabbi Elchonon Baron reacts from Jerusalem (video).

MERVYN SMITH MEMORIAL LECTURES

Series of webinars by Dovid Katz on Litvaks, Yiddish, the Lithuanian Holocaust (and the contemporary debates)


July 2020

Stinging Pain for Lithuanian Jews & Holocaust Survivor Families More Widely, as Seimas Names 2021 for Alleged Participant in June 1941 Kaunas Atrocities

Editor’s take. Chronology of events and publications. WJC’s Dr. Laurence Weinbaum in the Jewish Chronicle. Rare protest from AJC with LJC. But Wiesenthal Center strangely silent for first time


6 July 2020

The Defending History community wishes all our readers in Lithuania

A HAPPY CROWNING OF MINDAUGAS DAY

celebrating the Lithuanian king’s crowning in 1253. A wonderful modern holiday for all the peoples of Lithuania, and the world, and especially those with roots in the Grand Duchy…


26 June 2020

European Jewish Congress Reports on Ruta Bloshtein’s Petition to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from Convention Center Project:  51,000 Have Signed to Date 

Local, international opposition growing by the day


25 June 2020

LJC’s Video of Dieckmann-Vanagaite 25 June Book Launch

THE BACKGROUND. RECENT BOOKS IN THE DEBATE


23 June 2020

Chief Historian of State Sponsored  Genocide Center is Key Speaker at Events Glorifying June 23rd; Evening Event under Banner of Two Holocaust Collaborators

Defending History was there to monitor the events. Julius Norwilla’s photo gallery.

Dr. Arūnas Bubnys, chief historian at the state-sponsored Genocide Center in Vilnius and long-time member of the state-sponsored “International Historical Commission” proudly appears under the banner of two heinous Holocaust collaborators, J.  Noreika and K. Škirpa, at an event glorifying the day, 23 June 1941, that murder and mayhem broke out against the country’s defenseless Jewish citizens.

Škirpa with Hitler in Berlin


23 June 2020

Remembering June 23rd 1941: Why Would Anyone in the EU Want to Celebrate the Outbreak of the Baltic Holocaust under Guise of “Rebellion”?

Outbreak of mass murder, injury, pillage and humiliation of  defenseless Jewish neighbors by  the LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front) and others before arrival of first Nazi forces. Soviet forces were fleeing Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa — not the local Hitler allies. The real heroes of the day are Lithuanians (and Latvians, Estonians, Ukrainians and others) who risked everything to just do the right thing and save a neighbor from these Hitlerist organizations…

Defending History’s section on June 23rd events & issues in previous years. Background on the history. New English edition of Leyb Koniuchowsky’s compendium of testimonies now available online.

Online town hall on European Holocaust Denial is organized in the US. All welcome

Here in Vilnius: Lithuanian parliament (Seimas) schedules 10:30 AM (Vilnius time) press conference. Fears rising that this will be yet another effort to glorify June 23rd and the outbreak of the Lithuanian Holocaust at the hands of the LAF, provisional gov. and assorted other local Hitler allies. Speakers include members of Seimas, Genocide Center and Red-Brown Commission…

Far Right Will Honor Nazi Collaborators on 23rd at 6 PM in central Vilnius. Defending History will be there to monitor the event


Late Spring 2020

Who’s Gonna Welcome Folks to a Convention Center in the Middle of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery?

Dramatic Developments for Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, Still Slated to Become Vilnius Convention Center

Petition by Ruta Bloshtein, Vilnius native and resident, reaches 51,000 signatures. Defending History reports. Bloshtein’s articles.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo receives multifaith plea from Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim leaders and key human rights organizations.

Two new websites launched: Save Vilna (US and Israel) and Respect the Cemetery (Vilnius); Both efforts entail Christian-Jewish (& Lithuanian-Litvak) alliance. Vilnius project announces 14 June public event. Latest report by Andrius Kulikauskas.

Elected chairman of Vilnius Jewish Community, representing vast majority of Lithuania’s Jews, reaffirms VJC’s firm opposition to desecration of the cemetery.

UCSJ joins the endeavor from Washington DC.

Defending History has been on the case for “five long years” and helped inspire international opposition to a convention center that would never be sited in an old cemetery of the majority religion population. See the latest.


TThe Latest


BOOKS IN THE DEBATE


June-July 2020

Will the Lithuanian Defense Ministry add a “health warning” to its page glorifying a Nazi collaborator?

Lithuania’s Defense Ministry magazine glorifies Nazi collaborator and Holocaust cheerleader Kazys Škirpa on its front cover and in a massive article. See reactions from the Lithuanian Jewish Community and G. Gochin’s Times of Israel blog, and Defending HistorySEE OUR REPORT.

Incredibly, the Defense Ministry still flaunts the cover on its website (as PDF).


May 2020

Tale of the “Euronote Vilnius Cemetery”: See DH, JTA, AJ

Disturbing video produced by a national tourism agency


May Day in Vilnius: Three major tourism federations united to finance the covering of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery with empty chairs with symbolic 1000-euro notes pasted on (directly above extant graves), symbolizing the economic loss from not rushing ahead with a convention center in the middle of the cemetery.  The 500 year old cemetery, where thousands of citizens of Vilnius lie buried is not mentioned.

Real or photoshopped?

____

Solidarity with Minorities in Time of Pandemic?

Some use period for further glorification of Holocaust collaborators; Some tout postcrisis economic renewal from  “Convention Center in the Cemetery” Project in Vilnius

Former foreign minister calls on present FM to renounce views and support state glorification of brutal Holocaust collaborator J. Noreika (after supreme administrative court confirmed during national lockdown the “hero status” of the same collaborator). 

Also: Defense Ministry still adds no disclaimer to its page glorifying Nazi collaborator.

Meanwhile:

“You can’t make this up”: Major economist headlines construction sector revival via Jewish cemetery’s desecration as panacea for Covid-19 doldrums. Then, major national tourism units unite to place a thousand chairs with symbolic euro-notes on top of Vilnius Jewish graves.

Judith Leister reports in Neue Zürcher ZeitungJulius Norwilla in DH.

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For news in Lithuanian, see VieningaLietuva.com

5 YEARS AGO IN DH


March 2020

BALTIC FAR RIGHT’S “MARCHING SEASON” AGAIN GLORIFIES HITLER’S COLLABORATORS

VILNIUS + KAUNAS ON 16 FEB: DH eyewitness report on 16 February march in Vilnius. Organizers again targeted DH staff; 16 Feb in central Kaunas.

VILNIUS 11 MARCH: DH’s report on the run-up.  DH’s eyewitness report of the event.

RIGA 16 MARCH:  West silent as central Riga again gifted for worship of Latvia’s wrtime Waffen SS on Monday March 16th;  Coronavirus ban on rallies results in individuals laying wreaths for Waffen SS at city center’s Liberty Monument


February-March 2020

Linas Vildžiūnas, Lithuania’s Leading Humanist, For Decades Key Educator (and Truth Teller) about the Holocaust, Wins Donskis Award for Tolerance


16 February 2020

Defending History Alone Monitored Torchlit Vilnius Old Town Far-Right March that Glorified Nazi Collaborators J. Noreika and K. Škirpa


9 February 2020

Doyen of Litvak Rabbis Signs Impassioned Decree on Saving Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from “Convention Center in the Cemetery” Project


BOOKS IN THE DISCUSSION

Alexander Gendler: Khurbm: 1914-1922

Leyb Koniuchowsky & Jonathan Boyarin: The Lithuanian Slaughter of its Jews: Testimonies of 121 Survivors of the Holocaust in Lithuania

Dan Rabinowitz: The Lost Library

Ruta Vanagaite & Efraim Zuroff: Our People: Discovering Lithuania’s Hidden Holocaust

Ruta Vanagaite & Christoph Dieckmann: How Did It Happen? (Our People, Part II. Understanding the Holocaust in Lithuania)



January 2020

Far Right Again Granted Central Vilnius on Feb. 16 Independence Day

They plan to glorify Nazi collaborators ŠkirpaNoreika and Brazaitis

Scene from their 2018 march in the heart of Vilnius (featuring on front banner six Nazi collaborators)…

2018 march in central Vilnius. Photo © DefendingHistory.com

 


January 2020

European Foundation for Human Rights: Progress in Case for Equal Minority Rights for Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

For the first time a member of the Lithuanian parliament challenges the wisdom of glorifying (and reconstructing) an ugly Soviet dump that was built on Jewish bones of the centuries. See  Kęstutis Masiulis’s new piece in the Lithuanian media. Also, progress in the Vilnius court case is reported in the media, citing comments from Prof. Josif Parasonis. In the report, Turto Bankas (the state’s “property bank”) falsifies history, claiming the unsightly Soviet ruin is outside the cemetery. In fact, the American Embassy confirmed years ago (see point  5) that it “The Sports Palace property indisputably rests in the middle” of the historic cemetery.

Don’t the people of Lithuania (and Europe) deserve a sparkling new and morally clean Vilnius convention center rather than a Soviet-era structure surrounded by five centuries of Jewish graves?


Clemens Heni in Times of Israel on recent Yad Vashem furore

Matt Rubenstein iThe Battleground EU“Changing the Historical Record” 

David Pugliese in the Ottawa Citizen on East European Glorification of Holocaust Collaborators

Julius Norwilla in Vilnius’s 7MD on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Clemens Heni in Times of Israel on dissident thinkers in Germany

Anna Shternshis in Canadian Jews News on Yivo Librarian Debacle (see also DH’s take; list of items approved by “In geveb”)


23 January 2020

VIDEO: Major Litvak Rabbis in Israel and American Christian Evangelist Meet with Lithuania’s Ambassador to Israel to Plea for Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery 

Late Jan. 2020 meeting follows “day of shame” in Vilnius in Dec. 2019, and “hateful libel” against Orthodox Vilnius Jewish woman (Jan. 2020) who launched the international petition; Prof. Shnayer Leiman’s response.


23 January 2020

JTA on Scandal Emanating from Lithuanian Parliamentarian Gumuliauskas’s Proposed Bill to “Fix” Holocaust History

PEACEFUL DEMO PLANNED AT LITHUANIAN EMBASSY IN TEL AVIV ON FRIDAY 24 JAN, 11 AMFBHEBREW POSTER

SEE DEFENDING HISTORY’S TAKE

 


13 January 2020

Defending History Joins Lithuania in Mourning the Fourteen Unarmed Pro-Independence Protesters Murdered by Soviet Forces on 13 Jan. 1991 


10 January 2020

from Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas’s post in BNS and Vakarų Ekspresas

LRT’s “Panorama” runs report on the Soviet sports palace building (timecode: 21:25—25:20), envisaging “hundreds of millions of euros” and “a bag of gold”


2 January 2020

Israeli and Polish Ambassadors to Ukraine Issue Joint Letter Protesting New State Glorification of Holocaust Perpetrators (T.O.I. report by Sam Sokol)


1 January 2020

Antanas Zubrys and Dr. Matilda Zubrienė: Defending History’s Persons of the Year (2020)

Antanas Zubrys and Matilda Zubrienė

A Lithuanian hero of the War of Independence in 1920, one hundred years ago, who went on in 1941, with his wife, to risk their lives and their families and  just do the right thing and save innocent neighbors from the racial genocide underway and supported by their own nation’s “nationalist leaders”… “Someone has to honor Lithuania’s real World War II heroes.” See background on current practice by some East European governments to honor Nazi collaborators (e.g. Lithuanian parliament’s 2018 decision; DH section). See DH’s Person of the Year awards for 201420152018, and 2019.

Updated Litvak One-Stop Shop for 2020

Year of 300th Birthday of the Gaon of Vilna: novel critical approach of Andrius Kulikauskas’s brand new website on calendar of events. Our editor’s papers & articles.

“7 Kingdoms of the Litvaks” is free online


19 December 2019

A “Day of Shame” in Post-Holocaust East European Jewish History?

The upshot? The state owned property bank claims “Jewish support” for “the convention center in the old Jewish cemetery” via the alleged collusion of some London rabbis from the “CPJCE” and the head of the government sponsored Jewish community… But what about the opinion of all the others?


December 2019

Lithuania, a Genuine, Robust Democracy, Continues to Struggle with Free Speech when it Comes to the Holocaust

See Efraim Zuroff in the Jerusalem PostArkadijus Vinokuras in Times of IsraelInstances from the past decade monitored by DH; Section on free speech and democracy. Dovid Katz’s new paper on the (ab)use of law to “fix history” in the Baltics.


Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas founds major new initiative dedicated to Lithuanian-Jewish friendship and sense of common purpose for future of the Grand Duchy heritage by way of open, free and respectful dialogue and inspiring new projects

Program of 16 Dec. Bar Ilan Univeristy conference on Zuroff-Vanagaite book on the Lithuanian Holocaust; Conference report & photos


Nov.-Dec. 2019

Litvak World Shocked by New “Year of Gaon” 10 Euro Coin that Plonks a Symbol Beloved of Far Right onto a Mutilated Jewish Menorah

Defending History has followed the saga for three years

Ruta Bloshtein in Lithuanian in 7md (6 Dec.2019) [PDF of print edition]

Vilnius’s Jewish satirist Motke Chabad shares his own perspective

Ruta Bloshtein (2 Dec.) and Ben Cohen (28 Nov.) in the Algemeiner Journal

Dovid Katz (15 Nov. and 22 Nov.) and Ruta Bloshtein (26 Nov.) in DH

Grant Gochin in The Times of Israel on other painful issues evoked by “Year of Gaon” plans (also on LJC website); See DH’s Seven Simple Solutions on Lithuanian-Jewish issues

More coverage by Algemeiner JournalArutz ShevaEnlace JudíoHaaretzIsrael National NewsJewish ChronicleJTAYNetYNetEspanol, Times of Israel (ToI French edition)

Is it perhaps an opportune moment for the government to abandon plans for a convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, where hundreds of the Gaon’s ancestors and descendants still lie buried? International petition continues to grow.


Autumn 2019

AP on Streets Newly Named in Kiev for Nazi Collaborators

Clemens Heni in Portal for Political Science

Justin Ward in Medium on History Revisionism in Hungary

Andrius Kulikauskas in Bernardinai on Vilnius Jewish Cemetery Saga; Chief Rabbi of South Africa Weighs In; But NY Yivo stages PR event for government’s positions only

Aleksandr Kuzmin in DH on Latvian Defense Minister’s Glorification of Waffen-SS; Jewish Voice on History of Latvian Holocaust

Cnaan Liphshiz in Times of Israel (French) on Holocaust Museums 

George N. Tzogopoulos at Begin-Sadat Center on Israel’s Role; See DH’s Israel Page


23 Sept. 2019

International Coverage of Vilnius’s Day of Prayer, Plea & Protest for the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt

Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas’s keynote address; Report (+ photo gallery) in Lithuania’s 15min.ltLRT evening news (from timecode 4:56). European Foundation for Human Rights

Letter from South Africa’s chief rabbi to Lithuania’s president

London CPJCE “Jewish grave traders” are called to face charges at the Jerusalem rabbinical court. In London, a “Serious Incident” report is filed with the United Kingdom’s Charity Commission. Background on CPJCE’s Vilnius outrage. The video.


Canadian Govt. Officials “Duped” into Participating in Honors for Ukraine’s OUN / UPA Hitler Collaborators

Reports in National Post and Ottawa Citizen

Defending History’s Take: “Canada, a bastion of enlightened liberalism in today’s world, has blundered into a moral mouse-trap. Hopefully its highest leaders will now rapidly correct the error and join all those around the world who condemn the Nazis and their collaborators’ rampages of ethnic-based mass murder and genocide in World War II era Eastern Europe.”


23 September 2019

Monday September 23 in Vilnius

Day of Prayer and Respectful Challenge to Spare Old Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Šnipiškės) from Plans to Site a Convention Center in its Heart

Sign Ruta Bloshtein’s Petition       See the International Support       DH Section


Sept. 2019

A Decade of Defending History

Defending History marks its 10th anniversary in Sept. 2019

9 years ago7 years ago.  5 years ago3 years ago.

Come and browse old issues; first post; mission statement; Samples of coverage over the years by Ricky Ben-David in the Jerusalem Post; Arne Bengtsson in Baltic World; Daniel Brook in Slate; Bernard Dichek in Jerusalem Report; Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian; Avi Friedman in Mishpacha; Cindy Mindell in the Jewish Ledger; Rod Nordland in the New York Times; Wendy Robbins on BBC World Service. 

Documentary films: Danny Ben-Moshe’s Rewriting History; Richard Bloom’s Defending Holocaust History

PLEASE SUPPORT DH’S CONTINUED PUBLICATION


9 Sept. 2019

Vilnius is Shamed by Brand New Noreika Plaque Glorifying a Holocaust Collaborator

Calls for government to rapidly “do the right thing: take it down”

Thursday 5 September:  Crowd glorifying Holocaust collaborator screams “Noreika” as new plaque is affixed on public space in central Vilnius. Photo: J. Stecevičius/LRT

Reports in Delfi.lt;   Lrt.lt;   15min.lt

Vilnius mayor calls plaque “illegal”Faina Kukliansky issues powerful statement of protestBNS; Baltic Times reports that sciences library is quite happy with its new plaque; JTA report

So far, a wall of public  silence from the “Yiddish-loving culture minister“, from  Yivo, and from the Western and Israeli embassies in Lithuania

Defending History’s take: “A very sad day for Lithuania and its proud ages-old  tradition of Grand Duchy tolerance and its current record as a successful democracy. Ten years after Defending History published images of the plaque honoring Noreika, seven years after Evaldas Balciunas brought the issue to the English speaking world, and one month after Vilnius’s bold mayor boldly had the plaque removed, a mob of antisemites who celebrate the Holocaust’s perpetrators have put up an even shinier plaque, rapidly declared to be illegal by the mayor. The text of the new plaque is rather worse from the viewpoint of historic honesty, by referring to Noreika’s imprisonment by the Nazis at one point (the phenomenon of “Holocaust envy”), as if that makes a hero of a brutal Holocaust collaborator. Lithuania’s great people deserve better! Hopefully, the nation’s highest powers will remove the plaque without further delay, in the name of the rule of law, the nation’s standing, and basic human decency. See DH’s sections on:  J. NoreikaCollaborators Glorified; the 2019 midsummer events that presaged the latest events.  


August 2019

Bravo to Hizzoner Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius


Sam Sokol in JTA

Jillian Deutsch in Politico

Deutsche Welle

Vilna Jewish Cemetery Petition Hits 46,000 Mark

Lithuanian Jewish Community Reports on State Investigation of “Red-Brown Commission” Chief (background; video)

Vilna-born Holocaust survivor Prof. Pinchos Fridberg’s “enormous courage” in challenging “perpetrator whitewashing” by nationalist icon V. Landsbergis

Prof. Pinchos Fridberg  ©DefendingHistory.com

See Pinchos Fridberg section; DH’s 2012 take on LandsbergisMeanwhile, controversial official head of gov. sponsored Jewish community, eminent attorney Ms. Faina Kukliansky, wins acclaim for (finally) standing up to Landsbergis, after he used crude anti-Jewish ethnic slur on FB; Baltic Times features a rude reply with no pretense of evenhanded journalism. EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis speaks out (see DH’s Andriukaitis section, and his classic statements on the Seventy Years Declaration and the reburial of wartime Nazi puppet prime minister in 2012).

Polish government glorifies unit that fought for the Nazis

Prominent Vilnius historian publishes article in mainstream media complaining that too many “foreign Jews” have been included in the state-sponsored history commission


9 Aug. 2019

Ten years after Defending History published images of the plaques. Seven years after DH’s Evaldias Balčiūnas brought the case of J. Noreika to the English speaking world. Four years after Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas‘s classic DH essay on K. Škirpa: 

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius Leads City Council Decision to Rename “Škirpa Street” and Personally Orders Removal of Noreika Plaque in 4 AM Raid

Official Lithuanian Jewish Community Closes Premises and Synagogue on  6-8 Aug. in View of Threats, Citing Conservative Party’s Ongoing Campaign to Glorify Holocaust Collaborators

At Aug. 7 central Vilnius rally in support of continued glorification of Holocaust collaborators. Sign at left: “Stop Judaeophile vandalism”. Poster at right asks if it is still Lithuania or already the Northern Jerusalem…

Media coverage: AFPAJ,  AP/WAPOA7BBCBS,  EJCIHJNS,   JTA,  TOI 

Statement issued by Vilnius Jewish Community;  JTA reports of 6. Aug; 7 Aug; 8 Aug (+TOI); LJC’s circulated reply to VJC

Baltic Times gives big-time coverage to Landsbergis’s attack on official Jewish community leader Kukliansky. Will they provide equal space for the community’s response?

Aug. 7 rally demanded restoration of public space plaques and street names that glorify Holocaust collaborators held at Mindaugas Monument; Baltic Times’s “shamefully one-sided” report in far right spirit of trivializing glorification of Holocaust perpetrators

___

Poster advertising Aug. 7th rally blasts mayor who took action against glorification of collaborators, shows Jewish and gay pride symbols as the culprits

Photoshopped version of painting by F. Reshetnikov depicts several boys observing what seems like a Jewish-LGBT event from around the corner. Text at top reads “Škirpa and Vėtra [Noreika] are heroes of Lithuania”. The lower text depicts a rooster (“gaidys” in Lithuanian, used as a homophobic slur) and is labeled “Šimašius”, i.e., the current Mayor of Vilnius Remigijus Šimašius who recently led efforts to remove public glorification of two Holocaust collaborators.  Text at bottom: “Let’s defend the heroes of Lithuania! Rally under the Mayor’s windows, by the monument of King Mindaugas. August 7 (Wed.), from 18:00 to 19:30.”

Question: Will the Roskies & Fishman “Yiddish PR conference” financed to deflect attention from the painful issues, publish a morally clear statement of protest (and support for the Jewish community)? Do conference participants appreciate concerns they are being used as “useful Jewish idiots” (UJIs) in the wider effort to rewrite Holocaust history and cover for blatant antisemitism?

Are they aware of the systematic exclusion from their conference of all the local Jewish scholars in this field who have expressed disagreement with the glorification of Holocaust collaborators (including Holocaust survivors who have written about Jewish Vilna)? Will they consider signing Ruta Bloshtein’s petition on the old Vilna Jewish cemetery?

BACKGROUND: See DH sections on collaborators glorifiedNoreika saga; Ramanauskas saga; seven Lithuanian-Jewish issues that could be easily resolved; academic background. the Seventy Years Declaration (SYD). signed by 71 European parliamentarians including eight valiant Lithuanian MPs and MEPs.


1 August 2019

“It Pays to Defend History”

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius Orders Removal of Memorial Plaque for Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika

According to reports, city’s removal squad came 4 AM on 27 July; see now: the nationalist backlash (2); new president falls back on “more discussions needed” ignoring years of such discussions.  JTA report. Vilnius prosecutors considering challenges to mayor’s action. Vilnius’s Prof. Pinchos Fridberg takes the battle  over glorifying Hitler collaborators right to Vytautas Landsbergis. Meanwhile, Conservative Party’s Landsbergis Jr. hits back and official Jewish community exposes antisemitic slur on his FB page.

Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius

A seven year saga since Defending History’s Evaldas Balčiūnas brought the Noreika case to the English speaking world in 2012

Lithuanian author & ethicist Evaldas Balčiūnas

For years Mr. Balčiūnas was hounded by police, prosecutors and kangaroo hearings (scroll down to May 2014)

Over the years, Defending History’s campaign won support from the Simon Wiesenthal Center; the Rambam Mesivta High School that staged a peaceful demonstration at Lithuania’s consulate in New York; Noreika’s granddaughter, American author Silvia Foti; and Californian Litvak scion Grant Gochin, who took Vilnius’s “Genocide Center” to court. The GC’s public statement revealed its true view on the Holocaust. Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas is curator of online Captain Noreika Museum.

Follow the mayor’s impressive personal trajectory on these issues over the years

Marble Noreika stone continues to mar capital’s central boulevard

NEXT QUESTION:

The mayor will hopefully soon speak out on fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, slated to become a convention center, that would damage Vilnius’s brand for generations  to come. Vilnius native Ruta Bloshtein’s petition now has over 46,000 signatures from every part of the world.


24 July 2019

Vilnius City Council Finally Decides to Change Name of Škirpa Street

Vote is  20 to 16

Defending History brought the issue to the international community in 2010

See Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas’s classic 2015 Defending History paper on Škirpa; Vilnius City Council efforts by Mark Harold

Report by JTA

Prof. Pinchos Fridberg and Ruta Kaplinskaya concerned by report that new street name will be accompanied by new plaque glorifying Škirpa yet again

Škirpa is in the middle (Berlin, 1941)

Changing toxic street names that glorify Hitler collaborators is high on the list of the very easy things Lithuania needs to do to achieve justice on the irksome history issues that will just not go away. See DH’s seven solutions compiled with the help of the late Dr. Shimon Alperovich.

But what about Škirpa Street in Kaunas, which is slated to be “Capital of European Culture” in 2022?


July 2019

Ukraine’s Constitutional Court Affirms “Red Equals Brown” Law

Radio Free Europe (Radio Liberty) report fails to inform readers of the Double Genocide issues and abuse of history to further far-right Holocaust revisionism that includes glorification of Holocaust collaborators

LEV GOLINKIN IN THE WASHINGTON POST

EFRAIM ZUROFF IN THE JERUSALEM POST

ROBERT ROZETT IN ISRAEL JOURNAL OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

GRANT GOCHIN IN THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

IVAN KATCHANOVSKI ON UKRAINE’S UPA & OUP  


June-July 2019

More Lithuanian Government Glories & Medals for “Useful Jewish Enablers” of Baltic Holocaust Revisionism


June 2019

California Resident Grant Gochin Appeals Vilnius Court Ruling that Whitewashed Notorious Holocaust Collaborator Jonas Noreika

IHRA weighs inMore reaction.  For first time (?), Lithuanian TV presents both sides.

The Question: Will an EU/NATO democracy continue to sink government funds into  glorification of Holocaust collaborators? Don’t the Lithuanian people have higher values and causes into which to invest their hard-earned taxpayer money?

FOLLOW THE SEVEN YEAR NOREIKA SAGA IN DEFENDING HISTORY


23 June 2019

Kaunas (Slated to be 2022 “Capital of European Culture”)  Hosts Far-Right (/Neo-Nazi) City Center Jamboree Honoring June 23 “Uprising” that Unleashed the Destruction of Lithuanian Jewry in 1941

In Vilnius, the parliament (Seimas) hosts a one-sided conference on the LAF (Lithuanian Ativist Front) Hitlerist militias that unleashed violence on Jewish neighbors before German forces even arrived.

Meanwhile, a naive article in National Review accepts the distorted history of Vilnius’s “Genocide Museum” (see our critique of the museum), that calls the Hitlerist  “Lithuanian Activist Front” (LAF)’s outbreak of violence against Jewish neighbors a  rebellion against the Soviets. The brutal Soviet occupation forces were fleeing Hitler’s invasion (the largest in human history), not the LAF Jew-killers.

These killers didn’t fire a single shot against the Soviets when they were in power. You can’t “rebel” against someone who is in panic running away from someone else. . . The Holocaust is being rewritten by the East European far right (in part to make heroes out of the Eastern European collaborators) even as leaders of major Jewish organization in the US and elsewhere remain silent.


16 June 2019

The Good Old Pattern Continues in Biržai (Birzh), Northern Lithuania:

A magnificent new memorial to thousands of Holocaust victims at the mass grave in the forest.

Honors, medals and photo-ops for the foreign donors and enablers.

The official museum in the city center continues to honor Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators as “national heroes”, an issue not mentioned at any of the public events.


June 2019

State Glorification for Chaplain of a Holocaust-era Mass Murder Unit;  Simon Wiesenthal Center Speaks Out

_______

Chone Leibovich of Vilnius Jewish Community appeals to National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry (scroll down for English)


May-June 2019

A Sad Story for Chicago and Lithuania

that is ‘not going away’

UPDATE OF JUNE 1: Head of Jewish Agency calls for  monument to Nazi collaborator to be removed “as soon as possible”

In Vilnius, Defending History staff get more death threats

First monument on American soil glorifying a wartime Nazi collaborator who is also a prime icon for his country’s neo-Nazis today was inaugurated last month (May 4) in the presence of the visiting Lithuanian foreign minister

LATEST MEDIA: Algemeiner; BBC; GrayzoneIndependent; Simon Wiesenthal CenterTelegraph. And—Defending History’s take.

On Ramanauskas’s Holocaust-era role see courageous, pioneering articles of Lithuanian ethicist Evaldas Balčiūnas in 20142017 and his latest that has just appeared. For years after starting his series of articles “Why does the state commemorate murderers?” Balčiūnas was hounded by prosecutors and police (scroll to May 2014).

UPDATES: HOW THE “OFFICIAL JEWISH COMMUNITY” WAS USED AND ABUSED

RAMANAUSKAS: A FIVE YEAR SAGA

WAS THE US EMBASSY AGAIN DRAGGED INTO THINGS THAT DON’T REFLECT AMERICAN VALUES?

Beyond the debates over Ramanauskas’s role in the early days of the Lithuanian Holocaust, he is today  a major icon for Neo-Nazi parades and events.

From left to right on the neo-Nazis’ “We know our national heroes” banner (torchlit neo-Nazi parade of Feb. 2018): Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas,  Jonas Noreika,  Povilas Plechavičius,  Kazys Škirpa,  Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, and Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis

Latest far-right death threats  against DH editor appear on Facebook (as PDF; transl.). They were apparently instigated by the  neo-Nazis’ top blogger in Lithuania, “Zeppelinus”  (PDF; part transl.) who is said to work in the Ministry of the Economy. These threats came in response to DH’s opinion that Lithuania’s interests are not best served by a monument in Chicago to an alleged Holocaust collaborator who is also a prime icon for today’s neo-Nazi parades here. Samples of Zeppelinus’s racist, misogynistic, homophobic, antisemitic output of hate. Some of his earlier “artwork” on DH editor. 

This monument, honoring Adolfas Ramanauskas (Vanagas), who boasted in his memoirs of leading an LAF unit of fascist Hiterlist militia during the first weeks of the Holocaust (June-July 1941) in southeastern Lithuania, was overwhelmingly rejected for placement on public land by New Britian, Connecticut one year ago.  But on Saturday, 4 May  it was inaugurated by Lithuania’s foreign minister on the private property of the Lithuanian World Center in Chicago, Illinois. The English news release casually omits the reference to the Holocaust  issues cited in the original BNS Lithuanian report

On the legacy of Ramanauskas, see Evaldas Balčiūnas (in 20142017 and 2019); Efraim Zuroff and the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and Dovid Katz. Defending History documented the entire 2017-2018 New Britain, Conn. saga. Sampling of survivor testimony on “what it was that the LAF was doing” in the last week of June 1941.  SEE DEFENDING HISTORY’S SECTION ON ADOLFAS RAMANAUSKAS.

Defending History’s take: “The people of Chicago, and its proud Lithuanian and Litvak communities, should not have foisted on them a monument glorifying an alleged Holocaust collaborator who led a Hitlerist militia in the early days of the Holocaust, a monument that was overwhelmingly rejected by the New Britain, Connecticut city council one year ago. And, most certainly not without a free, public and transparent process of dialogue and consultation including Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as scholars and institutions representing a diversity of opinions. A one-year moratorium is called for to enable such a process to proceed with dignity.”


3 May 2019

Latest on State Honors for Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika in Lithuania

HUNDREDS OF JEWISH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS PROTEST OUTSIDE LITHUANIAN CONSULATE IN NEW YORK CITY

TRACK THE SEVEN-YEAR OLD NOREIKA SAGA HERE

DEFENDING HISTORY’S SECTION ON COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED


28 April 2019

EUROPEAN FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS PROTESTS EU FUNDING FOR VILNIUS MUSIC JAMBOREE ON WEEKEND  OF 27-28 APRIL IN THE HEART OF CITY’S OLD JEWISH CEMETERY

PDF OF NEW STATEMENT

As addendum to EFHR’s  case filed; international opposition; petition reaching 46,000 mark

Recent coverage in the Algemeiner Journal; English Delfi.lt (Lithuania Tribune); Jerusalem Post;

INCREDIBLY, M. K. ČIURLIONIS HOUSE & MUSEUM ARE PARTNERING

Protest letter from Julius Norwilla, chairman of the Vilnius Committee for Preservation of Piramont (Snipiskes) Cemetery to the Director of the Čiurlionis House and Museum

DEFENDING HISTORY MONITORING TEAM WAS ON THE SCENE FROM 12 TO 3 PM ON 28 APRIL 2019

Thousands (in groups of 25) were misinformed by guides’  prepared text assurance that convention center is with permission of “European Jewish Community in 2016” (!). Soviet kitsch was praised effusively in latest ruse to turn hated Soviet dump into “a national treasure”. Rabbi S. J. Feffer confronts one of the groups with a heartfelt speech of protest informing visitors of the “wanton theft of our forefathers’ graves” and blessing those who will help stop the travesty from moving forward.

MORE IN DEFENDING HISTORY

Meanwhile in London, a Serious Incident Report has been filed with the UK’s national Charity Commission requesting an investigation of the role of the CPJCE in the destruction of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery.

Unique study in body language: “blockbuster video” of London CPJCE staff allegedly morally selling other people’s graves against the rulings of all the rabbis of Vilnius and of the planet.  In fact, when the then chief rabbi of Lithuania, Rabbi Chaim Burshtein, spoke up in 2015, he was fired for expressing his views. Views of Rabbi S.J. Feffer (leading Litvak religious authority in the country) and Rabbi S.B. Krinsky (official rabbi of the synagogue / Chabad Lithuania).

The Wikileaks cable that just will not go away (jump to end of point 8)

Ruta Bloshtein’s petition approaches 46,000

Overviews by  Shnayer Leiman, Juris KažaMichael Maass, Dovid Katz, and Vilna-born Holocaust survivor Pinchos Fridberg; Statements by elected head of Vilnius Jewish Community Simon Gurevich

SEE MORE


24 April 2019

Granddaughter of Holocaust perpetrator J. Noreika, the American author and educator Silvia Foti launches a bold international petition calling on Lithuania’s gov. to stop glorifying him.

LATEST CHAPTER IN A SAGA OF SEVEN YEARS  

HOW DOES A  JEWISH CITIZEN OF LITHUANIA FEEL ABOUT IT?


23 April 2019

“The rights of minority cemeteries are human rights”

Legal Action Underway on Attempts to Pilfer Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery for National Convention Center

NEWS RELEASE FROM EUROPEAN FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

REPORTS IN ENGLISH DELFI (LITHUANIA TRIBUNE); IN THE ALGEMEINER (NY);  BNS/LRT; THE JERUSALEM POST

UPDATE OF 24 APRIL: EUROPEAN UNION FINANCES MUSIC FESTIVAL ON CEMETERY GROUNDS THIS WEEKEND


8 April 2019

Vilnius Plaque Glorifying Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika is Smashed by Maverick Candidate for the European Parliament, Attorney Stanislavas Tomas

All on film, streamed live Monday morning 8 April 2019, from candidate’s bilingual statements through to his calling the police and their eventual arrival to make the arrest

VIDEO ON YOUTUBE

(plaque smashing at 14:30; English segments at 04:10; 22:40)

Defending History’s comment:

“We unequivocally condemn violent acts against any property. Plaques can and will be replaced, and acts of property violence are totally illegal, inherently unethical, and utterly counterproductive to the noble cause of ridding Europe of glorification of Nazism. There needs to be dignified, peaceful and lawful civic and international pressure for the removal of all state-sponsored, public-space glorification of Holocaust collaborators, not least in Lithuania where some 96% of the Jewish population was massacred with massive local collaboration and participation. The real heroes are the amazing Lithuanians who risked everything in 1941 to just save a neighbor and we pray for the day when plaques and streets for them will abound across the land. See our own Person of the Year for 2018 and 2019.”

On Jonas Noreika’s Holocaust activities, see Evaldas Balčiūnas and Andrius Kulikauskas

Samples of other monuments and street names glorifying Holocaust collaborators.  DH section on glorification of collaborators. The major Noreika monument in Vilnius is actually the engraved marble stone on the city’s central Gedimino Boulevard outside the Genocide Museum:


8 April 2019

Andrius Kulikauskas calls on Lithuanian Parliament to Stand Up to State-Sponsored Genocide Center’s Glorification of Holocaust Collaborators

Dovid Katz interviewed by Stan Tomas (video)

World Jewish Congress Replies to Vilnius Genocide Center; Stops Short of Mentioning Government’s Financing of Street Names and Honors for Holocaust Perpetrators; Official Jewish Community Breaks Long Silence on GC’s Antisemitism


3 April 2019

Eyewitness Report: A Verdict is Read in a Vilnius Court

Case was over the state’s glorification of a cruel Holocaust collaborator and purveyor of racial hate. First time a court in an EU/NATO country ruled in favor of the government glorifying Holocaust collaborators with street names and majestic public plaques, reducing the Holocaust to a detail not worthy of interfering with its perpetrators’ “heroism”…

Verdict came down on 27 March. Since then: utter silence from the US, UK and Israeli embassies in Vilnius, and from the “Red-Brown” Commission (which has affiliations with the Genocide Center) and its foreign members representing Yivo and the American Jewish Committee. But on April 3rd, the World Jewish Congress issued a major statement, to some extent avoiding the current issue of state glorification of Holocaust perpetrators via street names and plaques.

At 1 PM on Wed. March 27th, a Vilnius Administrative Court judge read out the court’s ruling dismissing the query of US resident Grant Gochin over Lithuania’s state glorification of Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika, active during the Holocaust in the region where Gochin lost around 100 relatives. The court said Mr. Gochin had no material interest, ruled that the state-sponsored Genocide Center had answered his query completely, without bias, and without abuse of power, in effect further enshrining in law an EU/NATO state’s glorification of Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators via the financing of ultranationalist and far-right history centers and departments determined to preserve the national hero status of Holocaust collaborators. Whenever government or municipal officials are asked about the numerous street names and plaques honoring collaborators, the invariable answer is that it is all in fact a matter for the experts at the Genocide Center.

Mr. Gochin’s academic specialist, Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas was on hand along with attorney Rokas Rudzinskas. Of the Genocide Center’s staff, only historian Dr. Arūnas Bubnys turned up, sitting in the small gallery surrounded in part by first and second generation Holocaust survivors who turned out to hear the verdict that the Western embassies, human rights organization and official (state-sponsored) Jewish community thought not worth sending an official representative to hear. By contrast the local Vilnius Jewish Community had two observers on hand.

UPDATES: Genocide Center releases statement; official Jewish community issues reply.

JTA report is picked up by some Israeli papers but not one major American media outlet, general or Jewish… Why is that?

A moment before the courtroom clock strikes 1 PM: Genocide Center’s chief historian Dr. Arūnas Bubnys (front row third from right) was the only GC official to come and hear the verdict.

◊◊

SEE FULL REPORT


26 March 2019

Vilnius Court’s Verdict Awaited on Wednesday March 27th

Public welcome at the reading of the verdict at 1 PM at Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, Žygimantų 2 in the city center

Will a court in an EU/NATO country uphold a far-right Holocaust-obfuscating institution’s decision to make a national hero of a documented Holocaust collaborator?

See: Background. Report on 15 Jan. Report on 5 March.

Meanwhile, Bizarre Decision from EU Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is in Spirit of Far Right’s “Double Genocide” Revisionism

“The New Holocaust Denial is based on a postmodernist mush that confounds victims and perpetrators and tries to write the Holocaust out of history (without denying a single death) via an array of ruses emanating from Eastern Europe’s ultranationalist New Far Right.”

BACKGROUND

DH’s take. Report on 15 Jan. hearing. Report on 5 March hearing. Evaldas Balčiūnas’s 2012 article that brought Noreika to the attention of the English speaking world. Balčiūnas’s DH section.


25 March 2019

Michael Mostyn in the Toronto Sun

Reports on pro-Nazi marches in Vilnius and Riga; Canada condemns Riga’s Waffen SS celebration

English original of part of Lithuanian TV’s interview with Dovid Katz


20 March 2019

Vilnius Jewish Community Invites People of All Backgrounds to Purim Celebration with Traditional Reading of the Book of Esther

Wednesday evening, 20 March, at 7 PM, at the Vilnius Jewish Community & Jewish Cultural and Information Center at Mesiniu 3 in Vilnius Old Town

VJC’s additional family event features the traditional costume party competition on Thursday evening 21st

Just for Litvaks: Translation of the Book of Esther into Lithuanian Yiddish


16 March 2019

AROUND 1000 TAKE PART IN 16 MARCH CENTRAL RIGA PARADE GLORIFYING LATVIA’S WARTIME NAZI WAFFEN SS

DPA;  HaaretzJerusaem Post;  Jüdisches Forum (video)Times of Israel

Detail from the day

Petition against annual event approaches 7,000 signatures

Background: Monica Lowenberg’s blog; DH coverage of previous years’ marches; Lowenberg’s articles in DH; Latvia section. Can people peacefully protest this march? A disturbing court ruling 

Latvian participant in last month’s torchlight march in Vilnius on 16 Feb.


13 March 2019

More Double Dealing by US Taxpayer Supported “Commission to Preserve America’s Heritage Abroad” (USCPAHA)?

Is it Washington DC’s most corrupt federal agency?

Are they really in cahoots with the allegedly corrupt bodies (CPJCE in London, “Admas Kodesh” or “AK” in NY) who gave “permission” for a convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery against the views of all other rabbis and ethicists? The NY branch (AK) has published crude personal invective against scholars who hold other opinions, including Prof. Bernard Fryshman (who has now taken USCPAHA to the courts).

VIDEO: Herbert Block’s formal new presentation to a major rabbi cites only USCPAHA’s partnership with these two bodies. No mention of the international petition (which he himself signed…) or the vast international opposition.

Tale of two videos: The CPJCE with the prime minister of Lithuania, and USCPAHA’s Herbert Block explaining his commission’s work to the rabbi in Israel . . . See also earlier Admas Kodesh photo gallery of USCPAHA “reporting to Satmar Rebba in Monroe”… (Note: Leader of the opposing Satmar dynasty has himself condemned the convention center project in Vilnius).

BACKGROUND:

The basic story (DH’s section). International opposition to date. The USCPAHA. The CPJCE.


8 March 2019

After ‘Hearing Both Sides’ at Trial of March  5th, Vilnius Court Sets Verdict for 27th

Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, moments before his historic address before the Vilnius court on state-funded Genocide Center’s policy of glorifying Holocaust collaborators. The center’s “decisions” are cited by high officials as “justification” for street names, university hall plaques and other public-space state-funded glorifications of Holocaust collaborators. Around 96% of Lithuanian Jewry was massacred in the Holocaust.

Defending History was there. Our take:

Andrius Kulikauskas will go down in history not only as the hero of the day but as the true patriot of Lithuania whose love for his country is not infected by Holocaust obfuscation and the glorification of Holocaust perpetrators but by a pursuit of simple historic truth. By contrast, the Genocide Center’s shameful performance illustrated, as ever, why the government should not be using taxpayer or EU funds for a far-right ultranationalist Holocaust-obfuscating entity that disparages the freedom of Lithuanian citizens to have diverse opinions (by dictating fake history as per the Soviet playbook) and continues to damage Lithuania’s name in the world (East European democracies need state glorification of Holocaust collaborators like a hole in the head).

Evaldas Balčiūnas, whose 2012 article brought the case to international attention, was in attendance. Icing on the cake was the Genocide Center’s demand that the videographer leave at the outset. So much for government sponsorship of an open and transparent operation. There were close to 20 observers, mostly Vilnius Jewish personalities there in an individual capacity, including Prof. Pinchos Fridberg, who figured in a New York Times article on the subject last September. Elected Vilnius Jewish Community head Simon Gurevich, committed elsewhere, nevertheless made two brief appearances to show moral support for those who stand up to glorification of collaborators and to the community members in attendance. The VJC hosted Dr. Kulikauskas on Jan 14th.

“It had the air of a 21st century Lithuanian version of America’s Scopes Monkey Trial.”

Eyewitness reports and opinions by Evaldas Balčiūnas and Gershon Taic (Geršonas Taicas)

Finally, reports began to appear in mainstream Lithuanian media: BNS/Diena.lt; LRTDelfi; Alkas.lt; Arkadijus Vinokuras in Delfi.lt. Official information on the court’s website.

Background: Run-up to eve of the trial

California Financial Planner Takes Lithuania’s State-Sponsored “Genocide Center” to Court on March 5th for Enabling Gov. Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika

   Proceedings are open to the public (Tuesday March 5th, 10 AM at Vilnius Regional Administrative Court at Žygimantų 2 in central Vilnius). Media to date includes the BBC World ServiceChicago TribuneJTA. The plaintiff is California wealth advisor Grant Arthur Gochin whose family lost around 100 relatives in the Holocaust in the area where Noreika operated. He will be represented in Vilnius by attorney Rokas Rudzinskas and specialist Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, author of the Query that launched the case. He has a compelling letter of support from Noreika’s granddaughter, American educator and author Silvia Foti. See Ms. Foti’s remarkable 2018 essay in Salon, and the recent takes by Grant Gochin, Dovid Katz, Andrius Kulikauskas, and Efraim Zuroff.

  The case of J. Noreika was brought to the English speaking world in 2012 by journalist and ethicist Evaldas Balčiūnas of Šiauliai (Shavl), Lithuania, as part of a series of articles asking why his government honors alleged Holocaust collaborators. He was “rewarded” with years of prosecutorial and police harassment and kangaroo trials. Please scroll down to May 2014 in DH’s Balčiūnas section. In some opinions, Lithuania is a totally free-speech country with the marked exception of Holocaust history.

UTTER SILENCE FROM THE GOV. FUNDED “RED-BROWN COMMISSION” (ONE OF WHOSE MEMBERS IS ACTIVELY SOLICITING 10,000 EUROS IN CROWDFUNDING FOR NEW BOOK ON LITHUANIAN HOLOCAUST; CROWDFUNDING PAGE)

WILL THE AMERICAN, BRITISH, CANADIAN, FRENCH, GERMAN, IRISH, ISRAELI, NORWEGIAN & SWEDISH EMBASSIES (AMONG OTHERS) AND HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS BE SENDING OBSERVERS TO THE TRIAL ON TUESDAY?

BACKGROUND: Collaborators glorified; street names and university lecture halls; the Genocide Center in Vilnius; the Genocide Museum; academic background to the “Double Genocide” movement for Holocaust revisionism


March 2019

Lev Golinkin in The Nation on Ukraine’s issues with adulation of fascism and Holocaust collaborators

David Pugliese in the Ottawa Citizen on Latvian and Ukrainian projects to revise history

Petition against Waffen SS March on March 16th in Riga; Background: Monica Lowenberg’s blog; DH coverage of previous years’ marches; Lowenberg’s articles in DH; Can people peacefully protest this march? A disturbing court ruling in 2017

Euronews report on far right’s march in central Tallinn, Estonia

Julius Norwilla attends meeting of Lithuania’s state property bank that plans convention center in heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Vilnius: LRT TV interviews Dovid Katz


20 February 2019

VILNIUS ALERT WED. 20 FEB. 2019

Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, Legendary Jewish Partisan who Fought the Nazis in the Forests of Lithuania, Currently Major Yiddish Culture Educator, Will be Guest of Honor at Today’s Yiddish Reading Circle

Fania Brantsovsky (left) with the late Dr. Rokhl Margolis (1921-2015) in Vilnius in 2007

SPECIAL SESSION IN HONOR OF THE NEW BILINGUAL YIDDISH-LITHUANIAN EDITION OF THE LATE AARON GARON’S ESSAYS ON JEWISH VILNA EDITED BY LINAS VILDŽIŪNAS, WHO WILL BE ATTENDING THE EVENT, ALONG WITH THE AUTHOR’S CHILDREN, TAMARA AND EVGENY GARON.

Photo gallery of the event

6 to 7:30 PM AT THE VILNIUS JEWISH COMMUNITY, MESINIU 3 IN VILNIUS OLD TOWN. ALL ARE WELCOME!


16 February 2019

“IT PAYS TO DEFEND HISTORY”

“Once again, it becomes clear how Defending History is the true friend of Lithuania and other democratic states in the Eastern EU that need glorification of Holocaust collaborators like a hole in the head”

DH’s Vilnius monitors, observing the event for a decade, report on “significant progress”: For the first time in many years, the far-right February 16 march, though at times noxious (e.g. when a group reveled in a “Noreika plaque photo-op”), had no visible banners glorifying local Holocaust collaborators and no visible swastikas on flags, and no organized chants of “Lietuva Lietuviams” (Lithuania for Lithuanians). By contrast, a few Latvian visitors wore jackets emblazoned with “Waffen SS”. At its conclusion, two of the march’s organizers approached our team for a civil discussion which turned to the participation of “non-Catholic & non-ethnic Lithuanians” in the war of independence leading to the rise of the democratic interwar Lithuanian Republic on 16 Feb. 1918.


Vilnius Authorities Again Gifting Capital’s Storied Old Town for Far-Right March on Cherished Independence Day

Are they celebrating the Holocaust and the massacre of Lithuanian Jewry?

Last year’s neo-Nazi event featured front banner glorifying a series of local Holocaust collaborators; it was addressed by a high Catholic Church official and “honored guest” neo-Nazis from abroad

2018 lead banner: “WE KNOW WHO OUR NATION’S HEROES ARE”. The “sanitized” event in central Vilnius featured a lead banner glorifying six Nazi collaborators, five of them deeply implicated in the Lithuanian Holocaust. The torchlit march, the day’s final event, made its way from Vilnius’s most sacred Catholic shrine down through the Old City, culminating at a street named for one of the collaborators who had advocated “only” ethnic cleansing of the country’s Jewish minority in 1941. PHOTO: © DEFENDING HISTORY.

Come and join Defending History’s monitoring team. Event scheduled to start Saturday 16 February 6 PM at Aušros Vartų. Facebook details; website.

See Defending History’s decade-long eyewitness coverage of far-right marches in Vilnius, Kaunas, and Riga.

and

A Short History Lesson:

All of interwar Lithuania’s 239 Jewish communities (massacred in 1941) cherished and celebrated February 16th with heart and soul. They were proud Lithuanian citizens. It was also their Independence Day. See the 2013 letter from the late Joe Melamed, longtime elected leader of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, and any of countless records and pictures. Here, a photo (with bilingual Hebrew and Lithuanian handwritten captions) of the Jews of Dorbyán (Darbėnai) celebrating February 16th 1928, the tenth anniversary of independence:


30 January 2019

AP Report on Netanyahu Government’s Alleged “Sale of Holocaust History” in Eastern Europe is carried by New York Times, Washington Post, & Israel’s Haaretz & YNet

See Israel Chronicle summary page; Israel section; Sam Sokol’s new paper.

Related: Matti Friedman’s New York Times op-ed on the politicization of Yad Vashem. Cf. Danny Ben-Moshe’s earlier op-ed in Jerusalem Report. See Defending History’s Yad Vashem section.

Highpoints of Israeli diplomacy on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe: Ambassador Chen Ivri Apter in 2009; Ambassador Joel Lion in 2018.

Lowpoint: Ambassador Amir Maimon in 2017 (his performance made it into the academic literature before he was even transferred to his next posting).


27 January 2019

Holocaust Remembrance Week 2019

In recent times, the greatest threat to Holocaust Remembrance Day is the Double Genocide Holocaust revisionist movement whose “constitution” is the 2008 Prague Declaration. Defending History is proud to have taken part in the Europarliamentary response, the 2012 Seventy Years Declaration. The relevance of all this to Holocaust Remembrance Day was made crystal clear nine years ago by Yehuda Bauer on the pages of the Jerusalem Post. See also the essay by Holocaust survivor and scholar, and former director of Yad Vashem, Dr. Yitzhak Arad,  in Defending History. Identity Films has just made available free online its 2012 documentary Rewriting History. Richard Bloom Productions has done the same for its 2013 film, Defending Holocaust History.

William Echikson’s new report on how European countries are treating their Holocaust history

Coverage of the report in Politico.eu; Grant Arthur Gochin’s blog in The Times of Israel.


26 January 2019

Vilma Fiokla Kiurė:

Why do Authorities Choose to Evict Roma in the Middle of the Baltic Winter?


ON OUR PAGES 7 YEARS AGO.    5 YEARS AGO.    3 YEARS AGO.


24 January 2019

“The rights of minority cemeteries to be left in peace are human rights”

Two Visualizations of a Convention Center in the Middle of Vilna’s  Old Jewish Cemetery

I: Lithuania’s State Bank (“Turto Bankas”) triumphantly issues its latest visualization for a national convention center  in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, surrounded by thousands of Jewish graves. The huge new annex is “artfully” obscured (at the back).

2: Defending History issues its reply visualization. The people of Vilnius deserve a sparkling new convention center that will be a pride to all peoples everywhere, where they will be greeted by leaders of the arts, culture, music, politics, not by the tens of thousands of ghosts of the Jews of Vilna whose families purchased their burial plots in perpetuity. Join the 45,000 people who have signed Ruta Bloshtein’s international petition.


OLDER FRONT PAGE POSTS

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Lingering Discussions of Netanyahu’s 23-26 August 2018 Visit to Lithuania



ISRAEL PAGE  |  ISRAEL SECTION  |  LOWPOINT IN ISRAEL’S PROUD DIPLOMATIC HISTORY?

Debbie Maimon in Yated Ne’eman on the “Pandora’s Box” Opened; Efraim Zuroff’s Critique of Netanyahu’s Acquiescence to Lithuanian State Holocaust PR Games

DH’s Israel Page

Ben Cohen’s Coverage  in Algemeiner.com Cites Three Defending History Suggestions for the “Lithuanian-Israeli Moral Agenda”

(1) Call for letters of apology for three Israeli citizens defamed for posterity by Vilnius prosecutors: Yitzhak Arad (b. 1926) and Rachel Margolis (1921–2015) and Joseph Melamed (1924–2017). All three fought with the Jewish partisans against the Nazis. Two of the three were decorated heroes of Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.

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Herbert Block Issues Public Statement on Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  USCPAHA  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CEMETERIES

by Herbert Block

 

I have been involved in Jewish community, heritage and Holocaust-restitution issues in Lithuania for almost two decades, through various professional and personal capacities. While I have worked on these matters in other European countries, I have a special interest in and bond with these subjects as almost all my family came to America from Litvak areas. In the past few years I have spent a lot of time on the issue of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery in Šnipiškės (Piramónt) and the future plans for the Sports Palace building which has been on that site for decades. I met with many rabbis and community leaders with vastly different views and no meeting or photo should be interpreted as an endorsement of any position.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Herbert Block, Herbert Block and Issues of Lithuanian Jewish Cemetery Preservation, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad | Comments Off on Herbert Block Issues Public Statement on Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

100 Jews from Across Lithuania Peacefully Protest Undemocratic Hijack of Official Jewish Community



VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION

VILNIUS—As covered sequentially by DH over the past year, the official “Lithuanian Jewish Community” (LJC) saw its democracy abruptly dismantled in the spring of 2017 with the mid-campaign rule-change whereby the three thousand or so surviving Jews of Lithuania were disenfranchised and their voting rights replaced by a roomful of “Jewish oligarchs,” most of whom are beneficiaries of funds allocated by the government’s Good Will Foundation. Some have two or three votes, some represent defunct organizations, and one, who has two votes actually lives in Brussels. Western observers have compared it with some irony to the original Zero Mostel version of the Hollywood film The Producers. In any case, the “election” was ruled illegal by the Lithuanian courts in a case that brought their judicial independence to the fore, to the nation’s great credit.

UPDATES: JTA REPORT

Observers have pointed to the dangers of restitution settlements with East European governments that end up destroying communities’ democracy and independence in the direction of becoming “Jewish PR” units for the state with massive glories falling upon one or a handful of “court Jews” who serve to showcase state policies to the outside world.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Views of Mr. Ronaldas Račinskas and the State-Sponsored "International Commission" (ICECNSORL) | Comments Off on 100 Jews from Across Lithuania Peacefully Protest Undemocratic Hijack of Official Jewish Community

“Pylimo Jewish Commissariat” Ensures Readers Won’t Ever Hear About the New York Times



HUMOR (OF SORTS)  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  OPINION  |  MEDIA WATCH

by Motke Chabad

Our national Ministry for Jewish Control’s website editors were recently faced with a daunting quagmire. An article in the New York Times (one written, to make matters worse, by a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist), had featured, right on top, a large beautiful photo of a handsome young Lithuanian Jewish man, Simon Gurevich, who was elected head of the Vilnius Jewish Community by an overwhelming majority, one year ago. Even worse, he is of pure Litvak heritage going back seven hundred years on all sides of his family. Shockingly, the article quoted him as saying that the government might find a better place for its new national convention center than on top of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery. (Obviously he was misled by those 42,500 people who signed some petition or other.  By the way, a few years ago I helped the Commissariat in its search at the time for a suitable new rabbi with that question in mind.)

Who’s afraid of Simon Gurevich and The New York Times?

Naturally, all those local Jews who voted for Mr. Gurevich are Russians who claim to be Jewish, as the Commissariat demonstrated brilliantly last May beyond any shadow of a doubt. The challenge became to ensure that readers from the lands of the capitalist leaches, those who speak English, never find out about this article. Easy enough, who will ever hear about a New York Times article about our distant country? Mum’s the word.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Humor (Of Sorts), Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, Motke Chabad, News & Views, Opinion, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Comments Off on “Pylimo Jewish Commissariat” Ensures Readers Won’t Ever Hear About the New York Times

Whom Does the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” Board Really Represent?



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION

by Josifas Parasonis

Professor Josifas Parasonis (Vilnius Gediminas Technical University) contributed this opinion piece in Lithuanian earlier today. This translation is provided by Defending History, with Prof. Parasonis’s consent, for our readers’ information (with hyperlinks provided by DH). In the event of any query arising, the Lithuanian version alone is authoritative. Prof. Parasonis is one of the twenty-one Vilnius Jewish Community council members elected on 24 May 2017. See also the letter signed by him and nineteen others, addressed to the Good Will Foundation last July, and, in reverse chronological order, Defending History’s section on Vilnius Jewish life. DH opinion pieces represent the views of the author.

Methods of authoritarian and obtuse governance, evident for many years in the management of the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC), have recently reached the public sphere. Despite the fierce resistance and brutal interference of the chairwoman of the LJC (and, until recently, of the Vilnius Jewish Community, too) Faina Kukliansky, the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) [on 24 May 2017] organized a general conference of Vilnius Jews according to all legal procedures — with, incidentally, record-high attendance — and elected its new council [of 21 members] democratically. But the notion that Jewish people solve their problems in a wise manner, although prevalent in society, demonstrably did not take root in this case. As a former deputy chairman of the LJC (2000–2005), I feel an obligation to share my thoughts on why this has happened. It seems to me that I have a moral right to share these thoughts.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Josifas Parasonis, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Comments Off on Whom Does the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” Board Really Represent?

Is Prof. Krutikov the Latest Lithuanian Gov. “Yiddish Star” to be Manipulated?



OPINION  |  JEWISH STUDIES AS COVER  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—Beware of any academic conference hosted by a nation’s parliament. This isn’t about Lithuania, the Baltics, or Eastern Europe. It’s about the intellectual independence and academic integrity of bona fide academic conclaves anywhere. There are elementary questions. Was there a public call for papers? Was there an academic committee established to select those papers by the most competent specialists on the actual topic of the conference? An academic committee that would guard against the petty jealousies, politics of revenge and personal exclusions, as well as larger political correctnesses or state-sponsored-agency attempts to predetermine the proceedings or (ab)use them for governmental PR? Is the conference a free tribune for the exchange of ideas in an atmosphere of collegiality and mutual respect? One where scholars of opposing views can thrash it out, robustly and publicly — without the loss of interpersonal respect — to yield positive results for the area of human enquiry to which the conference was dedicated in the first place. One of the ironies is that Vilnius is nowadays host to some of the world’s best (and most academically free) conferences in an array of fields, both in the humanities and the sciences. That Soviet-style rigging should survive in the case of Judaic studies, of all things, will itself be studied one day.

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Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky: Not Afraid to Blog on Community Leaders’ Injustices



CHABAD IN VILNIUS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION

VILNIUS—After a number of readers reported technical difficulties in accessing the publicly posted and widely read blog of Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, in the interests of preserving the history of the Lithuanian Jewish community these are here offered in chronological order with separate links for each (the original is also available in internet libraries). Rabbi Krinsky’s respectful call for the resignations of leaders of the Good Will Foundation is perhaps the best known, covering the wider issue of integrity of restitution payments far beyond Chabad issues alone. For  highly divergent views on the events the rabbi covers in these blog posts, see the Defending History section tracking Rabbi Krinsky’s recent history in Vilniusand the official website of the state-sponsored Jewish Community of Lithuania (e.g. herehere).

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Vilnius Jewish Community Releases Letter Signed by 20 Elected Board Members Addressed to “Good Will Foundation”



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

VILNIUS—One month ago, on 7 July 2017, twenty of the twenty-one elected board members of the Vilnius Jewish Community (the 21st was abroad) signed a full-hearted letter addressed to the Good Will Foundation, the Lithuanian government restitution fund for Jewish community survival deriving from part of the value of the communal properties owned by the annihilated religious Jewish communities of prewar Lithuania. To this date, there has been no reply from the Good Will Foundation, nor any statement from its esteemed foreign board members who represent the World Jewish Restitution Organization. The board’s co-chair is Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee, who is a recipient of a number of Lithuanian government medals over the years.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Herbert Block and Issues of Lithuanian Jewish Cemetery Preservation, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Jewish Community Releases Letter Signed by 20 Elected Board Members Addressed to “Good Will Foundation”

Dr. Jerrold A. Zoloto’s Open Letter to Ms. Kukliansky



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Jerrold A. Zoloto, PhD

The following Open Letter appeared today on Dr. Zoloto’s public Facebook page and is reposted in Defending History with the author’s permission.

We have watched in horror the events leading up to and concluding with your “election” as the leader of the Lithuanian Jewish community. Having grown up in the world’s greatest democracy, it appalls me to see how you have ruthlessly and illegally managed to maintain your power base.

I am a proud Litvak, but you would not consider me a Litvak because I do not fit your definition of a Litvak. My mother was a Litvak and my father was a Jew born in Zhitomir. I grew up with my grandmother who was born in Kaunas. My grandfather was also from Kaunas, though he had died before I was born. Yiddish and Russian were spoken in my home as I grew up. You have disenfranchised Litvaks whose native language was not Lithuanian or whose parents were not both Litvaks or who was not born and raised in Lithuania. Your rhetoric on this subject is dangerously close to that of the Nazis who tried to destroy us. Within that concept of yours, you remind me of a Kapo who will do anything to her own people to ensure her own survival.

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Young Vilnius Jews Converge on Jewish Community Center to Protest Rigged Election



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

by Defending History Staff

VILNIUS—In one of the most remarkable events in post-Soviet Jewish Lithuania, around a hundred Jewish residents of this city, most of them from younger generations, came today to the Pylimo 4 headquarters of the “official” Jewish community to monitor the quadrennial elections for chairperson of the Jewish Community of Lithuania which they believed to be rigged. First, the rules had been changed right in the middle of the campaign, on 19 April, disenfranchising the small Jewish population of Lithuania by reducing to one vote each Jewish community and abandoning the long-standing formula of 1 vote for 100 persons which gave a voice to actual Jewish people (while retaining one, two or even three votes for various oligarchs from NGOs and other organizations, associations, and entities, including a not-yet built museum in a town with no Jews). That meant that the 2,200 or so Jews of Vilnius would have one vote rather than around 22.

UPDATES OF 29 MAY:

Vilnius District Court today nullified the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s decision to eliminate proportional representation and reduce the electoral weight of Vilnius Jewry to one vote. It offered temporary relief with a right to appeal within seven days. Net moral effect of the decision is to delegitimize the “re-coronation” of the incumbent chairperson.

Also: The “Good Will Foundation” released its latest allocation figures of funds deriving from the communal religious properties of the annihilated Jewish communities. Incredibly, it contains money for the state-sponsored “Red-Brown Commission” that is dedicated to the 2008 Prague Declaration

Second, the fifteen representatives which the newly elected Vilnius Jewish Community Board designated to attend the election conference were not admitted to the conference. Last Wednesday evening, the VJC elected Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) its chairperson. He is the challenger candidate for the national chairpersonship position.

Third, a massive multi-layered security presence (guards in the building wore at least three kinds of fancy uniforms, police and security cars graced the sidewalk outside) added both bad will and farce to a day that will invariably go down in Vilna Jewish history on a number of counts. The Vilnius Jewish Community’s report on the day’s events (in Lithuanian) is available on its Facebook page.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Chabad in Vilnius, Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Young Vilnius Jews Converge on Jewish Community Center to Protest Rigged Election

Adopting Antisemitic Trope, “Official Jewish Community Website” Blasts 300 Vilnius Jews as “Mainly Russian Speakers Calling Themselves Jews”



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

VILNIUS—Over 300 members of the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC), representing all adult age groups, and constituting the numerically largest such conference this century, this evening elected a new VJC chairman at the Karolina Hotel in Vilnius. Professionally organized, members with voting rights had to present their membership cards and separate ID at conference tables organized by initial letters of surnames. The proceedings, started with a few sentences of Yiddish by Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevicius), were meticulously conducted bilingually, with all proceedings in both Lithuanian (first) and (then) Russian in an atmosphere of democratic catharsis of an East European Jewish community, many of whose members have felt sidelined by the interests of a handful of elites close to government circles in recent years. The assembly included virtually all of the known personalities of Vilnius Jewry who do not happen to have employment at Pylimo Street 4, the official community’s headquarters (but there were a few of those too, as well as some from the official synagogue minyan).

ORIGINAL POST ON WEBSITE OF STATE-SPONSORED “JEWISH COMMUNITY”

After the election of the new chairperson came elections for twenty-one members of the Vilnius Board. Also, a resolution was adopted cancelling the recent attempt to disenfranchise some two thousand Vilnius Jews by recounting their votes as a single vote (while the heads of various NGOs, including the not-yet-built Sheduva Lost Shtetl Museum, have two or more votes each).

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Russian Speakers' Personal Status, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Comments Off on Adopting Antisemitic Trope, “Official Jewish Community Website” Blasts 300 Vilnius Jews as “Mainly Russian Speakers Calling Themselves Jews”

Gurevich Explains How Kukliansky, Levin, Žakas, and Kanovich Control 40% of Votes in “Kangaroo Election”



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

VILNIUS—Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), candidate for the leadership of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, today issued a statement on his public Facebook page inviting members of the community to participate in the electoral conference for chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community, to be held this Wednesday evening 24 May 2014 6 PM (18:00) at the Karolina Hotel in Vilnius. His statement, in Lithuanian, reminds readers that the recent attempts to cancel the conference (whose date was democratically voted on by a clear majority of Vilnius Jewish Community Board members) would result in the application of the “new rules” decided on in the middle of the current campaign that would effectively disenfranchise 2,200 Vilnius Jews by recounting their votes from the present 22 or so (via the longstanding formula of 100 people = one vote) to one vote, while each of the elite power brokers in the chairperson’s circle (not all of whom live in Lithuania) would in effect have the votes to decide the entire future of the Jewish community, resulting in a tragic undermining of the future of the actual living Jewish people in Lithuania. To make matters worse, various of these “machers” have two or three votes each.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Shádov (Šeduva), Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gurevich Explains How Kukliansky, Levin, Žakas, and Kanovich Control 40% of Votes in “Kangaroo Election”

Arkadijus Vinokuras: Chairperson’s Henchman-Spoiler or Independent Candidate?



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

VILNIUS—Arkadijus Vinokuras, the highly talented and successful Lithuanian Jewish author, journalist, and comedian, has today jumped into the fray of the official Jewish Community’s elections for the post of chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community. In contrast to Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), who declared his candidacy at the start of the election season and whose candidacy has (as of the time of this posting) not even been reported on the official community website, Mr. Vinokuras’s effort comes one week before the scheduled May 24th Vilnius Jewish Community conference, and has been announced with respect and a fine photograph on the website today (the same moment it came out on his own Facebook page). But that is not the main reason his candidacy is thought by many in the community, on first reaction, to be in the service of chairperson Faina Kukliansky, whose democratic terms as chief of both the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) and the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) ran out last month.

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Is “Good Will Foundation” Enabling a Mockery of Jewish Community Democracy in Lithuania?



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

VILNIUS—The official trilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian) website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, generously financed from the restitution funds (deriving from prewar Jewish religious communal properties) allocated by the state-sponsored Good Will Foundation, is in the nature of things meant to represent that community. Once a community chairperson’s tenure was expired and a democratic election campaign was underway, it was widely expected that the website and its editor, Lithuanian journalist Ilona Rūkienė, would take every care to ensure evenhandedness, giving the various candidates equal space and each campaign the same respect, coverage, and democratic tools for reaching the electorate, thereby enabling voters to make an informed decision.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Comments Off on Is “Good Will Foundation” Enabling a Mockery of Jewish Community Democracy in Lithuania?

Lithuanian Jews Dismayed at New Attempt to Crush Democracy



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Coming hard on the heels of the mid-campaign rule-change of 19 April that effectively disenfranchised over 2,000 Vilnius Jews, by “recounting” their collective vote as one vote instead of over 20 (via the long-established formula of 100 persons = one vote), the chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, eminent attorney Faina Kukliansky, on 4 May placed an announcement on the Lithuanian-language page of the official community website (followed by the Russian section), Lzb.lt, cancelling the widely announced 24 May 2017 conference of the Vilnius Jewish Community decided upon by a clear majority vote of its Council (15 of 21 active members), for which the large hall of Hotel Karolina had already been booked. This was followed on 5 May by an English language version complete with “Red-Ink Warnings from the Leader” which seems to inaccurately report that the planned 24 May conference was an “arbitrary” act of “one” Council of the Vilnius Jewish Community member, presumably referring to her opponent in the race, Simonas Gurevičius.

UPDATES TO 12 MAY 2017: 

8 May 2017: Vilnius Jewish Community board member Simon Ceitlin posts a notice on his Facebook page confirming that the 24 May event at Hotel Karolina will proceed as announced.

10 May 2017: Simonas Gurevičius posts refutation of official Community website notice and confirms that the 24 May meeting, decided by all present at the most recent Vilnius Jewish Community board meeting, will proceed.

12 May 2017: Faina Kukliansky reposts announcement on community website assuring readers that the meeting will not occur.

 

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Jews Dismayed at New Attempt to Crush Democracy

Vilnius Jews “Shocked” by Maneuver to “Rig the Community’s Elections”



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Interviews by several Defending History staffers with several dozen members of Vilnius’s Jewish community over the past several days have turned up what seems to be a widespread sense of (citing terms that recurred frequently in the conversations) “disappointment” or “shock” at the “unbelievable changing of the rules of an election in the middle of the campaign.” (Such mini-surveys are not scientific, and a professional survey of today’s Jewish community on a number of issues is a critical desideratum here.)

The change seems to be in the cause of in effect disenfranchising the actual living Jews of Lithuania by suddenly decoupling the numbers of living, resident Jews from votes cast for the leadership of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, for which elections are scheduled, as of today, for May 28th (for recent developments see the DH section on Vilnius Jewish Life). A number of those interviewed mentioned the role of the “Good Will Foundation” that allocates funding for the community’s administration, including elections, from the government finance provided as restitution for prewar communal religious Jewish property. Some of its allocations have been highly controversial.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Shádov (Šeduva) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Jews “Shocked” by Maneuver to “Rig the Community’s Elections”

Community Democratization: Four Leadership Jobs? Four People!



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  MEDIA WATCH

VILNIUS—The disappointing failure of the official website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania to give Equal Space to each candidate, and to each campaign, in the current leadership contest is a scar in the modern community’s history that can still be repaired as the campaign turns to its final stages. Let us hope it will be, and that this minimal democratic standard will be respected by the site’s editor and by the Good Will Foundation that allocates lavish finance for the website, which was never intended to be a Soviet-style paean to a single never-to-be-questioned Leader. Perhaps the Board’s foreign members, in particular, will rise to the occasion, at long last, at next week’s scheduled meeting here in Vilnius, especially in light of the recent series of unsettling reports.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion | Comments Off on Community Democratization: Four Leadership Jobs? Four People!

Hon. Herbert Block’s Lithuanian Engagements and the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OPINION  |  PIRAMÓNT  | OPPOSITION  |   USCPAHA (US COMMISSION FOR AMERICAN HERITAGE ABROAD)  |  CPJCE  |  ADMAS KODESH  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  CEMETERIES

VILNIUS—The Hon. Herbert Block, a prominent and popular personality known to New Yorkers from his days as the highly successful Jewish affairs liaison for the campaign and administration of New York City mayor David Dinkins years ago has emerged as a major force at the confluence of Jewish-Hasidic, American and Lithuanian-government politics on issues in Lithuanian-Jewish affairs. There are conflicting views about his myriad, and some would say conflict-of-interest laden, entanglements that include a Satmar group in Monroe, New York intent on fulfilling the wishes of Vilnius builders for a convention center and annex in the heart of the old Jewish cemetery of Vilnius (allegedly for the financial benefit of their London followers in the CPJCE), a US taxpayer funded agency that exists to preserve  Jewish cemeteries (but has yet to issue a word of protest at the “convention center in the Jewish cemetery” project) and the Lithuanian government’s “Good Will Foundation” that allocates monies deriving from the religious properties of the annihilated Jewish communities of Lithuania.

NEW SECTION ON MR. BLOCK’S LITHUANIAN INVOLVEMENTS

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Posted in "Admas Kodesh", "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Herbert Block and Issues of Lithuanian Jewish Cemetery Preservation, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, United States, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hon. Herbert Block’s Lithuanian Engagements and the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery