צו די שלשים פון יוסף (יאָסקע) מלמד ז″ל
On the 15 July 2013 centenary of the birth of the illustrious Yiddish poet of Vilna, Abraham Sutzkever (1913–2010), the last active association of Holocaust survivors from Lithuania released the statement below (also available as PDF). It urges organizers, participants, judges and prize winners to avoid being instrumentalized as cover-up props for Holocaust obfuscation. It proposes that they simply issue public statements calling for written public apologies from the Lithuanian government to the defamed Jewish partisans who knew Sutzkever well from the forests of Lithuania and dozens of years of contact in survivor circles. See the related debate on this year’s Sutzkever Prize.
The following is a translation of the Hebrew letter from Tel Aviv attorney Joseph Melamed, head of the Association of Lithuanian Jews, to Avner Shalev, director of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, in reaction to news reports reporting that Yad Vashem would rejoin the Vilnius-based red-brown commission. In addition, the Association issued a statement to the media today.
Tel Aviv, 3 September 2012
Hon. Avner Shalev
Chairman, Yad Vashem
The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority
The Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel was left in shock by the decision of Yad Vashem to renew its activities in the “International” Commission [for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania].
TEL AVIV—The office of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel today released the text of the Hebrew letter which the ALJ’s chairman, Tel Aviv attorney Joseph Melamed, sent today to Avner Shalev, the director of Yad Vashem. Images of the letter’s two pages follow (signed letter as PDF). English translation here.
See also the separate English statement which the ALJ released to the media earlier today, following the recent news about the Lithuanian government renewing a much enlarged red-brown commission with the ostensible participation of Yad Vashem.
TEL AVIV—The following public statement was received at 2:15 PM Tel Aviv time from the offices of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel at King David Boulevard 1. In addition, the ALJ today released the letter written by its chairman to the head of Yad Vashem (English translation here). Background.
Holocaust survivors Shlomo Cheskov (left, from Shavl/Šiauliai), and Joseph Melamed (from Kovno/Kaunas) at the Tel Aviv demonstration. Mr. Cheskov’s sign says (in Yiddish) “With our partisan heroes, against neo-Nazism. We are here!” Mr. Melamed’s (in Hebrew) addressed to the South African businessmen diners at the gala dinner: “Dear Diners! Where is your conscience? Your solidarity with Holocaust survivors and resistance fighters and partisans?” Photo: Bella Bryks-Klein.
Most counts put at eighteen the number of participants in a small, polite but determined picket line outside the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv this evening. The protesters, Holocaust survivors from Lithuania and their supporters, sported signs in English, Hebrew and Yiddish taking to task the government-manipulated gala evening being held inside the hotel by “Yisrael Lita” at which the Lithuanian foreign minister, a determined opponent of accurate Holocaust comemmoration, was “guest of honor.”
Developments have started moving quickly in the ill-starred project to host the current foreign minister of Lithuania as “guest of honor” at a Tel Aviv “gala” at the Dan Panorama Hotel on March 5th.
[updated 17 Feb] The following “SAVE THE DATE GALA DINNER” announcement was recently posted on the Telfed Online website [update: page taken down; similar text is at the ILCCI site of the organizing “Israel-Lithuania”]:
The following letter to the editor from attorney Joseph Melamed, chairman of the Assoiation of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, appeared today in VilNews.com.
The recent article by Dr. Irena Veisaite agreeing with the antisemitic establishment’s evaluation of the life’s work of Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office and a leading historian of the Lithuanian Holocaust, has been a cause of great dismay to us, the world’s last active organization of Lithuanian Holocaust survivors and their descendants.
Recent developments suggest Holocaust remembrance has fallen by the wayside as a key element of Jewish Foreign Policy, at least as far as Lithuania is concerned.
Holocaust remembrance is a central plank of Jewish Foreign Policy (JFP), a term that encompasses how Israel and Diaspora organizations act on issues of common Jewish concern. The establishment of Yad Vashem in 1953 and the Eichmann trial in 1961 showed how central the memory of the Holocaust was to Israeli public and foreign policy.
The following is a reprint, with the author’s permission, of his article in London’s Jewish Chronicle this week.
Today is Lithuanian Holocaust Day. This is the day the Vilna Ghetto was “liquidated” in 1943, but is not generally known among Lithuanians. It does not even appear on the Wikipedia list of Lithuanian holidays, although Molotov-Ribbentrop Day, August 23, does. September 23 usually receives a few minutes on the evening news — after it’s over.
The Lithuanian ambassador in Washington recently told a Jewish genealogical conference that the investigations against Holocaust Survivors who joined the resistance were “closed”. One questioner wanted to know why, in that case, is there no clear public announcement by a leading official to that effect, as these Holocaust survivors continue to be defamed by prestigious voices in Lithuanian society.
The saga took a bizarre twist this morning in Tel Aviv, when Israeli police, on demand of Lithuanian prosecutors and police, and referring to international police agreements to which both nations are signatories, felt obligated to hold a meeting with 86 year old Holocaust survivor Joseph Melamed, the long-time and widely beloved director of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel. It is the world’s last active Litvak organization.
The Tel-Aviv based Association of Lithuanian Jews, the world’s most active association of Holocaust Survivors from Lithuania and their progeny, today released to the media the letter which its chairman, Joseph A. Melamed, sent on 16 September 2010 to Anne E. Derse, America’s ambassador to Lithuania. Mr Melamed, a Tel Aviv attorney and former Israeli diplomat, told DefendingHistory.com that his office hopes to receive a reply “in the nearest future”. The full text of Mr Melamed’s 16 September letter:
Attorney Joseph Melamed, chairman of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel (at right) delivered the keynote speech today at an event held at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem to mark the September 23rd anniversary of the 1943 liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto. Because of the Jewish holidays, the event was moved up to the 20th this year.
Those in attendance included Uri Chanoch, chairman of the Holocaust Survivors’ Association; Mr Michael Schemyawitz (left of photo), head of the Association of Vilna Jews in Israel and director of its Beit Vilna premises in the Montefiore section of Tel Aviv; and the top leadership of Yad Vashem including chairman Avner Shalev and director general Nathan Eitan. The program of speakers and was released in advance (in Hebrew) by the ALJ. Lithuania’s ambassador to Israel, HE Darius Degutis, delivered a conciliatory address (full text here), which included the moving line: ‘It breaks my heart and casts a shadow of shame that among the perpetrators of these crimes were also my countrymen. This cannot be, and will not be, either forgotten or forgiven’.