“Jewish” Events as Cover?

Lithuanian Jews, Holocaust Survivors, Specialists who Disagree with the Lithuanian Government — Shut Out of London Conference



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

The Holocaust Survivor community is responding with a mixture of sadness and defiance to news that the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, which actively coordinated the recent attempt (December 2010) to underpin ‘Double Genocide’ and downgrade the Holocaust in European Union law (see top story on home page), is now financing, in partnership with (naive?) parties in London, a starkly one-sided colloquium on ‘Jewish-Lithuanian Relations Between Coexistence and Violence’ on 6-7 Feb 2011 in London.

London Fog: Will the Conference be a ‘Graywash’?

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A Shameful Shoah Whitewash



O P I N I O N

by Efraim Zuroff

This comment appeared in today’s Jewish Chronicle (London) and is reposted here by the author’s permission.


A financially-strapped small Eastern European country is spending tens of thousands of pounds to sponsor an extraordinarily large number of political and cultural events ― lectures, concerts, exhibitions and films ― in London next week. Why? That is the obvious question for the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, several Lithuanian cultural institutions, and local UK partners.

Under the heading No Simple Stories; Jewish-Lithuanian relationships: facing difficult questions, the events are projected as an honest attempt to address the ostensibly complex history of Lithuania’s once very large Jewish community, which was irreparably decimated during the Holocaust — 96.4% of the 220,000 Jews who lived in Lithuania under the Nazi occupation were slaughtered, with the help of a large number of local collaborators.

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Winner of Lithuanian Government’s “Gold Star” Makes Accusations against Government’s Critics



O P I N I O N

REPRINT FROM  “David’s Blog” at: http://davidpaulbooks.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/99/.

As duly noted by the blog’s editor, the author, Professor E. Zimroth, is the recipient of the government’s Lithuanian Millennium Star, awarded to her by the foreign minister in a ceremony at the Lithuanian consulate in New York.  That foreign minister’s subsequent comments on the period of Nazi rule in his country are available here.

Professor Zimroth is one of a number of Western Jewish dignitaries honored by the Lithuanian government. The public letter referred to by the author is available here.


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London Fog: Lithuanian Foreign Ministry invests in a London ‘Graywash’


 


Letter of Protest signed by Lord JannerMP MacShane, Professor Dov Levin, Rabbi Barry Marcus17 Others

———

DIGNIFIED MORNING PROTEST

 All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-SemitiMember of the UK Parliament, human rights champion and author RH Denis MacShane (right), led a good-natured moment of protest Monday morning, 7 February in London at the Lithuanian Embassy, 84 Gloucester Place, London W1.

MP MacShane presented a letter of protest to the embassy, drafted and organized by Professor Danny Ben-Moshe (center), who flew in from Melbourne to be at the event. At left is Danny Stone, director of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism. The letter was signed by 21 people, including academics, political figures, those involved with the fight against antisemitism, representatives of Litvak organizations, and Lithuanian Holocaust survivors. The ambassador declined a written request to meet to discuss the letter.

BACKGROUND REPORT

PRESS: REPORT IN THE JERUSALEM POST ♦ IN THE ECONOMIST (REPLY HERE) ♦ ALFA.LT (8 Feb) ♦ BNS ♦ CLEMENS HENI (DH) ♦ DOVID KATZ (DH) ♦ LRYTAS.LT ♦ JONNY PAUL (JP) ♦ SIMON ROCKER I (JC) ♦SIMON ROCKER II (JC) ♦ SIMON ROCKER III (JC) ♦ NITZA SPIRO (JN) ♦ EFRAIM ZUROFF (JC)

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How to hold an academic conference in a Soviet (and occasionally, in a post-Soviet) milieu



O P I N I O N

by Geoff Vasil

1. Line up the names of people who agree with you and are ideologically reliable or beholden to you for their ticket there and back. Best to use locals as far as possible with a big-wheel foreign invitee or two, provided they’re safe.

2. Do some stuff, make a program, maybe provide a tour to foreign academics, get them sauced. The program of events can be created on the fly, tailored to meet the needs of attracting the right set of people, using up funds allocated, etc. Be creative.

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Foreign Ministry cooking another one-sided ‘open forum’, this time in — Kaunas



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

Yet again, Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is misinvesting assets in cooking up one-sided events that are designed to pose as open and honest forums for a variety of opinions, treating audiences as if they were idiots who will not notice something is amiss.

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Has LRG Media (UK) been Compromised?


The prestigious British-based LRG Media, a multimedia company with an impressive record of achievements and awards, has apparently been targeted by certain elements in Lithuanian government circles as the latest ‘Naive Useful Foreign Entity’ to help make respectable internationally the state-sponsored campaigns for Double Genocide, Holocaust Obfuscation, and selective toleration of current antisemitism.

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Obfuscationists planning Vilnius Holocaust Museum miles away from the City Center


Rumors are flying in the Lithuanian capital about plans to induce foreign institutions and governments to support the building of  a new Holocaust Museum at  the mass-murder site Ponár (Paneriai), where no unsuspecting tourist or visitor to Vilnius would ever see it, more than six miles out of town, unless they have prior special interest that would motivate the hiring of a taxi for that purpose.

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Was the OSCE’s (ODIHR) ‘High Level Meeting on Confronting Antisemitism’ another East European Whitewash?


The OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) today released its report on the ‘OSCE High Level Meeting on Confronting Antisemitism in Public Discourse’ that was held in Prague on 23 and 24 March 2011 under the auspices of its ODIHR department (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights). The full report is available here (alternate link here).

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Litvaks and their Descendants Issue Public Letter Calling for Change in Lithuanian Government’s Holocaust Policies


 


Text of the public letter follows. Queries may be sent to Professor Danny Ben-Moshe at: Danny.Ben-Moshe@vu.edu.au.  UPDATES: Covered by JTA and the Jewish Chronicle.


We the undersigned Litvaks — Jews of Lithuanian origin and their direct and immediate descendants — hereby express:

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Račinskas’s Version of ‘Holocaust Education’: Red-Brown Commission Director General Speaks in the Lithuanian Parliament


Updates (newest first):

His views finally came through in English in a German documentary film

Mr. Racinskas calls prominent Holocaust survivor a liar on the commission’s website

He tries to deny LAF murders “on racial basis” before arrival of German forces in 1941

Says European Commission “spits in the face” when it fails to accept a Double Genocide resolution from the Baltics

The following is DefendingHistory.com’s translation (from the tape) of the concluding speech of the 29-30 June 2011 conference (reports here and here), delivered by Ronaldas Račinskas, director general (sometimes listed as executive director) of the government sponsored ‘International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania’ (known for short as the ‘Red-Brown Commission’), which is housed in the Office of the Prime Minister of Lithuania. It can serve as a potent example of the state-sponsored Holocaust Obfuscation movement which presents one face domestically, a second in the European Parliament, and a third to naive Western Holocaust Studies groups.

Simple, really. Tell the locals there was no Holocaust, just a complicated morass of  mixed-up perpetrators and victims (and heck, those Jews were mostly communists anyway). Tell the European Parliament there were two equal genocides and they must legislate the equality of totalitarian regimes. And tell the foreign Jews and the West you need money to pursue Holocaust studies and commemoration. They’ll have to believe you. After all, you’re in the prime minister’s office of an EU government. Elementary, really?

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A Speech Never Spoken at Plungyán (Plungė)



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

An imaginary speech, not delivered by any of the high government officials who addressed the commemoration at the mass murder site of the Jews of Plungyán (Plungė) on 17 July 2011.


My dear friends, it is precisely because I am a proud official of the government of independent, democratic, Lithuania, and I love my country, that I am able to speak here today openly, on the seventieth anniversary of the murder of the Jews of Plungė  — Plungyán, as they proudly called it in the Yiddish that rang through its streets for so many centuries.

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Wyman Brent Voices Fear his Vilnius Library Could Become Vehicle to “Whitewash and Obfuscate History and Cover for Rampant Antisemitism”



O P I N I O N

by Wyman Brent

I have a concern which I am sure that the readers of DefendingHistory.com share. I am talking about the possibility of the Vilnius Jewish Library becoming a vehicle for certain elements of the Lithuanian government to continue to whitewash and obfuscate history and to cover up for the antisemitism currently rampant here.

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Et tu, Yivo? Holocaust Survivors Jolted by Plan for Lithuanian Foreign Minister to be ‘Guest of Honor’ at Vilna Ghetto Commemoration



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

When you have loved an institution all your life — and written over decades about its impact on the history of ideas — it becomes a responsibility, even when painful, to try to dissuade it from making a serious error that would put in jeopardy its integrity.

The Lithuanian foreign minister, who has to date not apologized publicly for his widely reported antisemitic outburst in October 2010, has been named by the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research as its ‘guest of honor’ at a concert on 22 September 2011. The remnant Jewish community of Lithuania is small and fragile. Nevertheless it responded robustly, less than a year ago, to the foreign minister’s comments and proceeded to publish its response in English, Lithuanian, Russian and Yiddish.

Yivo’s website enumerates the joint sponsorship for the 22 September 2011 event by ‘the Embassy Series in cooperation with the Lithuanian Consulate and the Lithuanian Delegation to the United Nations’. The event is being held to commemorate the anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto on 23 September 1943.

Perpetrators glorified

In 2011 — to mark the 70th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion, and  to the chagrin of Holocaust survivors internationally — the Lithuanian government has invested in a series of events honoring the local perpetrators who began to kill Jewish neighbors in dozens of towns before the Germans even arrived (a reading list on the history is available here). The ‘logic’ has been that they were actually rebelling against Soviet rule, though it is not disputed by historians that the Soviets were obviously fleeing the Nazi invasion.

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Holocaust Survivors from Lithuania Protest Yivo’s Decision to Honor the Foreign Minister of Lithuania at Vilna Ghetto Commemoration


The Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, one of the world’s last active organizations of Holocaust survivors from Lithuania, today released to the media (by fax) its letter of protest to the executive director of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research concerning Yivo’s recent decision to have the Lithuanian foreign minister as ‘guest of honor’ at its 22 September event to commemorate the Vilna Ghetto. The association’s letter notes that its members are ‘nearly all Holocaust survivors ourselves’.

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Director of Yivo Sends Circular to Staff, Taking on the Role of Manhattan Office of Lithuanian Government’s PR Department; Calls Holocaust Survivors ‘Helpless’ and ‘Ageing’


The executive director of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research in New York circulated the following set of documents in an email sent to the entire staff of Yivo today. This circular statement has come after Paul Berger’s 7 September article in the Forward, the public letter from the last association of Lithuanian Holocaust survivors in Israel, and a public letter to Yivo’s academic advisory council from a French human rights association. The ‘attack on Yivo by Dovid Katz’, as it is acrimoniously called here, is the op-ed in DefendingHistory.com on the subject. More information and links on the various issues on the front page of DefendingHistory.com. This journal has made a series of proposals for genuine resolution of Lithuanian-Jewish issues.

[Update: On 15 September 2011 Yossi Melman released his direct reply to the attack on him in the circulated memo reproduced below.]


From: Jonathan Brent

Sent: Friday, September 09, 2011 10:05 AM

To: YIVO Staff

Subject: Melamed Issue in Lithuania

Dear Staff,

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Lithuanian Gov’s ‘Crack Jewish-Issue Team’ in Washington for New PR Drive


The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry’s Jewish PR campaign on Litvak culture and the Holocaust moves to Washington, DC this week, even as the government continues to invest in events glorifying the 1941 local Holocaust murderers, and to allow local antisemitism and neo-fascism to run rampant, often with the support of the state, or, one some occasions, open participation of officials of state-sponsored institutions.

What defies credulity this time around is that the series of events comes just as state prosecutors have used Interpol to harass yet another Holocaust survivor who joined the anti-Nazi resistance. This time the object of Lithuanian prosecutors’ interest is 86 year old Joe Melamed of Tel Aviv, elected chairman of one of the world’s last associations of Holocaust survivors from Lithuania (details in Haaretz and DefendingHistory.com; covered also in French, German and other  Israeli publications).

One of the targeted Holocaust survivors is Dr. Rachel Margolis, an eminent Holocaust historian, resident in Rechovot, who feels unable to return to Vilnius for fear of prosecutors’ harassment. She is just over a month away from her 90th birthday.

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Milan Chersonski, Longtime Editor of ‘Jerusalem of Lithuania’, Releases a Public Letter to the Director of Yivo in New York


 


O P I N I O N

by Milan Chersonski

Milan Chersonski

Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, the quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, released to the media today a public letter to the director of Yivo in New York. Mr. Chersonski stressed that the views are his own, and do not reflect any official opinion. From 1979 to 1999, he was director of the Yiddish Folk Theater of Lithuania, which was one of the USSR’s very few Yiddish amateur theater companies. Jerusalem of Lithuania ceased publication in 2011.

The text of Milan Chersonski’s letter follows in English. Translated from Russian by Asya Fruman and approved by Milan Chersonski.


 

Vilnius, Lithuania, 12 September 2011

 

Dear Mr. Brent,

I, a World War II refugee, a citizen of the independent Republic of Lithuania, address you as a resident of the city where Yivo, the first and most important academic institute of Yiddish language, literature, culture and history, was founded.

For more than eighty years Yivo was run by the most prominent Yiddish scholars, renowned for their research works as well as for their outstanding organizational skills. They and their successors maintained Yivo’s honor and dignity.

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Yivo Director Sends New Circular to Staff, Refining Lithuanian Government Talking Points; Claims Support of Veidlinger and Zipperstein for (Inaccurate) Public Statement


Following up on his 9 September 2011 circular to the staff of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research in New York, the executive director today circulated a new missive, likewise sent to all members of staff, and claiming the support of two eminent professors, Steven J. Zipperstein and Jeffrey Veidlinger. [Full disclosure: Veidlinger was one of Bloomington’s Borns Jewish Studies program staff involved in secret 2009  negotiations with the by-then government-manipulated Vilnius Yiddish Institute, a factor in the disemployment of this journal’s editor as professor of Yiddish, language and literature, the post he held from 1999 to 2010.]

This statement follows the publication of concerns of members of the British parliament (on its website), the open letter of Milan Chersonski, longtime editor of the newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, and coverage in English, French, German and Hebrew publications, in addition to the earlier coverage in the Forward, Haaretz and DefendingHistory.com (which first interviewed Joseph Melamed at length on 30 August).

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Yossi Melman of Haaretz Responds to Yivo Director’s Attack


Haaretz reporter Yossi Melman, author of the 7 Sept. article which brought the Lithuanian government campaign against Holocaust survivor Joseph Melamed to wide attention, and who today broke the story about Yad Vashem’s disinvitation of a Lithuanian minister over the Melamed affair, has today authorized release to the media of his 13 Sept. letter to Yivo director Jonathan Brent. The letter is in response to Mr. Brent’s 9 Sept. circular email to the entire staff of Yivo. Mr. Melman explained to DefendingHistory.com that he is releasing the letter because he had received no response from Mr. Brent.

From: Yossi Melman
Sent: Tuesday, September 13, 2011
To: Jonathan Brent
Subject: outrageous

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