Politics of Memory

Former Lithuanian Foreign Minister Calls on Present FM to Renounce View & Support State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika



GLORIFICATION OF HOLOCAUST COLLABORATORS  |  JONAS NOREIKA  | DOUBLE GENOCIDE   |  FOREIGN MINISTRIES MANIPULATING HISTORY?  | ANTISEMITISM  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—A former foreign minister and current MP, Audronius Ažubalis, today published, in partnership with a younger right-wing MP, a public appeal (on the main news portal Delfi.lt), to the current foreign minister to revoke his 2019 agreement with the Western consensus that Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika should not be the object of state-sponsored glorification in a NATO or EU member state.

Mr. Ažubalis, a stalwart of the right-wing Homeland Union and Christian Democratic party, has a long history “with the Jews and the Holocaust.” In 2010, all 21 members of the board of the Jewish Community of Lithuania signed an official protest at the then foreign minister’s antisemitic remarks. Then, in 2012, when eight bold Lithuanian parliamentarians (six MPs and two MEPs) signed the Seventy Years Declaration (SYD), in opposition to the 2008 Prague Declaration that is the “constitution” of the Double Genocide movement, the then foreign minister issued his infamous remark about the only difference between Hitler and Stalin being the length of their moustaches. He rapidly accused the eight Lithuanian parliamentarians (all Social Democrats) of being Putinist lackeys.

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Simon Gurevich, Elected Head of Vilnius Jewish Community, Reaffirms Jewish Stance on Old Vilna Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Today’s edition of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung carries Judith Leister’s article (in German) on issues arising during the current official Lithuanian government celebrations of the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Gaon of Vilna, Elijah ben Solomon Zalman (Eylyóhu ben Shlóyme-Zálmen, 1720–1797).

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Simon Gurevich, Elected Head of Vilnius Jewish Community, Reaffirms Jewish Stance on Old Vilna Cemetery

Is Convention Center in Old Jewish Cemetery Really Best Way to Jumpstart Post Covid-19 Economy?



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—The major news portal Delfi.lt reported this morning on the economic recovery plan for jumpstarting the Lithuanian economy in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. After reporting on the doldrums of the construction industry, the article cites at length Mantas Miseliūnas, a top specialist on the role of commercial property in the economy. No opposing views are cited. The article, which does not mention the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, the current litigation, the international petition, and the massive international protest, informs readers of an idyllic panacea to the economic downturn wrought by Covid-19:

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Is Convention Center in Old Jewish Cemetery Really Best Way to Jumpstart Post Covid-19 Economy?

‘Weekly of Vilnius’ Is Again Only Vilnius Publication to Give Both Sides of Story



COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  NOREIKA  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  | HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Once again, The Weekly of Vilnius, considered by some to be this city’s most prestigious English-language news-and-analysis publication, was the only major media outlet here to “give both sides of the story” on the recent court judgment of Lithuania’s Supreme Administrative Court’s 1 April decision in effect proclaiming that Holocaust collaborator J. Noreika is a national hero, unblemished by his involvement in the ghettoization, pillaging and destruction of thousands of his fellow citizens who were Jewish. Various state institutions, most notoriously the far-right Genocide Research Center, continue to spend lavishly on the glorification of Holocaust collaborators. See Defending History’s report, which includes links to other media coverage in Lithuanian and English.

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Posted in Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Comments Off on ‘Weekly of Vilnius’ Is Again Only Vilnius Publication to Give Both Sides of Story

Lithuania’s Supreme Administrative Court Reconfirms ‘National Hero’ Status of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika



THE NOREIKA DEBATE FROM 2012 ONWARD  |  COLLABORATGORS GLORIFIED   |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE

VILNIUS—Coronavirus or not, Vilnius’s Supreme Administrative Court yesterday issued its dismissal of the appeal against an earlier court ruling that effectively codified in Lithuanian law the conclusion that Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika is indeed a national hero. The Noreika saga reached the English speaking world in 2012, when Evaldas Balčiūnas’s article appeared in Defending History. Mr. Balčiūnas followed up with articles on other perpetrators glorified by the state, and was harassed by years of kangaroo prosecutions (scroll down to May 2014, further articles following). Thereafter, challenges were mounted both here and abroad  to state-sponsored glorification, in a NATO/EU state, of a proven Holocaust collaborator. These  have included Californian-resident wealth adviser Grant Gochin, Vilnius-resident Lithuanian-American scholar Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, who curates a website on the subject, and, most sensationally, Noreika’s own American-born grandsaughter, the Chicago-based author and educator Silvia Foti, whose 2018 article in Salon led to international media coverage and work on a feature film project.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, EU, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Supreme Administrative Court Reconfirms ‘National Hero’ Status of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika

Eyewitness Report: March 11th Far Right March & Rally in Central Vilnius



MARCHES SECTION  |  VILNIUS MARCHES  |  KAUNAS MARCHES  |  RIGA MARCHES  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS

by Julius Norwilla

The Totenkopf flag, with the “Lithuanian swastika” upper right, has featured each year. Swastikas were legalized by Lithuanian courts in 2010. Photo: Julius Norwilla.

VILNIUS—It was Wednesday March 11th at around 4 PM. The procession of the “nationalists” began, as usual,  in the heart of the Lithuanian capital, with authorities’ permission, at the city’s medieval Cathedral Square. It made its way up the central boulevard, Gedimino, up to Lukiškės Square, a stone’s throw from the nation’s Seimas, or parliament.

Only Defending History came out to monitor the march. . .

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DH Community Invites Readers to Join Monitoring Team for “Nationalist” March 11th Vilnius March



VILNIUS—The entire Defending History community celebrates Lithuania’s independence day this coming Wednesday March 11th. Lithuania’s independence and democracy, like those of of neighboring EU/NATO states, are splendid success stories in the annuals of the region. All the more reason to be vigilant — as genuine friends of the Baltics are — against those who would try to insert Nazist values of ethnic hatred and Holocaust revisionism into the mix. We sincerely hope that the “nationalist” march for which the beautiful center of Vilnius is gifted each year will this year not glorify local Holocaust and Nazi collaborators, will not heap scorn on  the nation’s minorities and will not flaunt fascist symbols.

The Defending History team has been monitoring these events since 2008

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Comments Off on DH Community Invites Readers to Join Monitoring Team for “Nationalist” March 11th Vilnius March

Vilnius Braces for May 7th “Jewish Cemetery Trial of Century”; Around 160 Plaintiffs Recognized by Court



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  CPJCE (LONDON)  |  USCPAHA (WASHINGTON DC)

VILNIUS—At a hearing at the District Court of Vilnius City, at Laisves Prospect 79A on Monday, the presiding judge set Thursday May 7th 2020 as the date of the trial over plans of the state-financed property bank, “Turto Bankas” to establish a national convention center in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery. The plaintiffs in the case are Jewish people whose ancestors and relatives are still buried in the old cemetery, at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius). Of hundreds of claims submitted, sources close to the court reported that “around 160” have been accepted as legal plaintiffs for the trial, which is expected to attract expert witnesses from the United States and Israel as well as foreign media interest. There has been extensive international opposition to the convention center project, including impassioned pleas from major Lithuanian-origin rabbis internationally, most recently the doyen of Litvak rabbis, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a nephew of Vilna’s prewar Chazon Ish. A petition by Vilnius native Ruta Bloshtein has garnered some 47,000 signatures.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Braces for May 7th “Jewish Cemetery Trial of Century”; Around 160 Plaintiffs Recognized by Court

As Usual, Leaders of Far-Right March Glorifying Holocaust Perpetrators Target DH Monitors…



  VILNIUS MARCHES  |  KAUNAS MARCHES  |  MARCHES SECTION  | GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS

VILNIUS—Yet again, the far right organizations that choose to glorify their country’s Nazi and Holocaust collaborators, also choose to target the human rights monitors who come to document their events. Alas, the Vilnius-based human-rights organizations, like European and international Jewish organizations, again failed to monitor last week’s central-Vilnius event. The small Defending History team was the only one on hand last Sunday, February 16th, to monitor, and DH, as usual, reported on the march, after having reported on its planners’ vow to highlight three specific collaborators. Vilnius’s prestigious Old Town, from the Gates of Dawn to the foot of Castle Mount, was allocated by authorities to the marchers for their dusk-to-evening slot of the Independence Day public festivities.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on As Usual, Leaders of Far-Right March Glorifying Holocaust Perpetrators Target DH Monitors…

Dieckmann & Vanagaite Book Scores €10,000 from Lithuanian Gov. Fund On Top of $20,525 from Crowdfunding



VILNIUS—In November 2018, Defending History raised some questions about a crowdfunding campaign for a new book by Professor Christoph Dieckmann, a longtime member of the Lithuanian government’s “red-brown commission,” in partnership with bestselling author and Holocaust truth-teller Ruta Vanagaite. The article is reproduced below unchanged for speed of reference.

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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dieckmann & Vanagaite Book Scores €10,000 from Lithuanian Gov. Fund On Top of $20,525 from Crowdfunding

Andrius Kulikauskas Invites Public to Independence Day Event at Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



VILNIUS—Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, the editor of the Vieninga Lietuva (United Lithuania) website, and a contributor to DH for some years, has announced an event scheduled for midday this Sunday, February 16, Lithuania’s Independence Day. The day marks the declaration of independence of 1918, which led to the democratic Republic of Lithuania that flourished in interwar Eastern Europe. Posters for the event are available in PDF format in English, and in Lithuanian, and are reproduced below. All are welcome to the event, which calls on Lithuanian authorities to move the national convention center project away from the old Jewish cemetery to another venue. The project has attracted much opposition, as well as an international petition.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Andrius Kulikauskas Invites Public to Independence Day Event at Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Far Right Again Granted Central Vilnius on Feb. 16 Independence Day; They Vow to Glorify Three Nazi Collaborators



They Promise to Glorify Nazi Collaborators Škirpa, Noreika and Brazaitis

Facebook announcement; Event rep’s interview

DH coverage of past Vilnius marches; Kaunas marches; Riga marches. See also marches section. For the 13th year running, Defending History will monitor the event. Hopefully, some human rights and international organizations will also send observers. 

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, EU, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Comments Off on Far Right Again Granted Central Vilnius on Feb. 16 Independence Day; They Vow to Glorify Three Nazi Collaborators

Our Take on Furore over Parliamentarian Gumuliauskas’s “Holocaust-Fixing” Proposal



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; LITH. PRESIDENT CANCELS ISRAELI TRIP

Defending History’s take:

The proposal is not in line with Poland’s earlier debacle, but infinitely worse. However, Lithuania should not be held accountable for the rants of a single member of parliament (though it is disturbing to note the utter silence from his committee members including the one “official Jewish parliamentarian”).

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Professor Leiman Responds to Vilnius Attack on Ruta Bloshtein’s Petition



OPINION  |   MEDIA WATCH  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION 

by Shnayer Leiman

Note: This follows on from our report where links are to be found to the articles that elicited the present discussion.

Anyone who would claim that Ruta Bloshtein, a citizen of Lithuania, born and raised in Vilnius, is anything less than a staunch supporter of what is ultimately best for Lithuania, is sorely mistaken. She is a courageous leader of the Vilnius Jewish community and seeks only truth and fairness in Lithuania’s treatment of its minority communities. An abomination took place in Vilnius when it was under Soviet domination. A Sports Palace was constructed over a historical Jewish cemetery, where for some 400 years, every Jew – man, woman, and child – who died in Vilnius was buried. These include the graves of the Gaon of Vilna’s entire family (parents, wives, and children); R. Abraham Danzig, author of a famous Jewish code of law still in use and studied widely, and his family; and hundreds of other distinguished rabbis, scholars, poets, and scientists.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Sid (Shnayer) Leiman | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Professor Leiman Responds to Vilnius Attack on Ruta Bloshtein’s Petition

“United Lithuania” to Hold Peaceful Gathering on Sunday to Celebrate Sanctity of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



VILNIUS—A peaceful gathering will be held this Sunday, 12 January,  AT 2 PM to celebrate the sanctity of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt, in today’s Šnipiškės district across the river from central Vilnius. The event will be organized by Vieninga Lietuva (United Lithaunia), a group of Lithuanians and Jews working together to make bona fide  progress by dialogue and a search for basic truths —  rather than just score PR or political points — concerning the issues at hand. In this case, the group has asked for the new national convention center project to be moved away from the five hundred year old Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, which could be lovingly restored. The initiative’s website,  Vieninga Lietuva describes the event in detail, and the event’s poster appears below.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on “United Lithuania” to Hold Peaceful Gathering on Sunday to Celebrate Sanctity of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

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



OPINIONHISTORY

by Danutė Selčinskaja

 

Who were the people who managed to disregard the ubiquitous government warnings and the abundant anti-Semitic propaganda and refused to remain passive onlookers? Those who went on to rescue their Jewish neighbors from the fate of persecution and murder during the Second World War? Jews were rescued by people of various educational background, beliefs, ages, and professions. Each of them had to make this not-at-all easy decision by themselves, led by no one but their conscience. Upon seeing such direct and overt brutality, these courageous people were simply unable to act in any other way.

Antanas Zubrys and Dr. Matilda Zubrienė

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A “Day of Shame” in Annals of Lithuanian Jewish History?



Did a “Dubious Minyan of Ten State Property Bank Officials” with Alleged “Jewish Enablers” Just Sell Out the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery for a Multimillion Euro Conference Center?

Are leaders of  some American Jewish organizations betraying Jewish interests for a pot of lentils from East European governments? AJC’s Andy Baker trashes Ruta Bloshtein’s petition and its tens of thousands of signatories; another one-sided YIVO “symposium” (but with powerful audience questions from Ms. Rebecca Cook and Prof. Bernard Fryshman)… Top state medals for Yivo and AJC leaders (see Yivo’s “politics in Lithuania” record from 2011). “History will be very clear about all this, notwithstanding the current mush achieved by some big PR bucks.” Recent PR shtik includes claiming some books found decades ago are “just now discovered” and recruiting an American JTS academic (who helped cover for two new buildings on the old Vilna cemetery over a decade ago) to tell the media they are “the new Dead Sea Scrolls”…

If a new national convention center is indeed to open at the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, thousands each night would cheer, sing, clap, dance, use bars and flush toilets surrounded by thousands of Vilna Jewish graves going back over 500 years. Including the parents and son of the Gaon of Vilna. Just as the state-sponsored “2020 Year of the Gaon” gets underway, including a handsome new recombinated menorah coin.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A “Day of Shame” in Annals of Lithuanian Jewish History?

On the (Ab)use of Law to “Fix” Holocaust History



OPINION  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE  |  FREE SPEECH  |  STATES’ MANIPULATION OF HISTORY

by Dovid Katz

This comment appeared in Mémoires en Jeu (Memory at Stake), no. 9, (2010).

In recent years, a number of eastern EU and NATO member states (plus Ukraine) have been constructing components of their official(and protected-by-law) national narratives on heroes who were collaborators, or even perpetrators in the Holocaust on the grounds that they were “anti-Soviet heroes.”1 These countries indeed had to face two Soviet occupations (1939/1940–41 and 1944/45–1991), and the occupation by Nazi Germany (1941-1944/5). The “liberating” state was also the author of major crimes such as repressions, deportations, forced labor and executions, and the statutes of post-Soviet Europe lacked a text on the crimes of communism. The ensuing moral problem is as follows: while these States would have legitimate heroes who struggled for freedom against dictatorial Soviet domination, they also honor those who participated in the Holocaust and even criminalize criticism against them.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, Estonia, EU, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Free Speech & Democracy, History, Latvia, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Prague "Platform", State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on On the (Ab)use of Law to “Fix” Holocaust History

How does One Hurt and Humiliate a Person (or a People)?



OPINION

by Ruta Bloshtein

The author is a native of Vilnius hailing from centuries of Litvaks, who has worked for years in the Judaica department of Lithuania’s Martynas Mažvydas National Library. She is a prominent member of Vilnius’s small Orthodox Jewish community. She is the author of the international petition to save the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery. English translations of some of her writings are available online. For more on the 10 euro “Gaon coin” referred to, see its DH section. The views reflected in this article are strictly Ms. Bloshtein’s. The Lithuanian original of this article appeared in 7md (PDF of print version).

 

How does one hurt and humiliate a person (or a people)?

By Actions.

2020 has been declared “The Year of the Vilna Gaon and the Jewish Heritage.” Sounds solemn? It only sounds so. Empty pots make the most noise. What are these words based on? On plans to build a convention center on Jewish graves? On the remains of the Vilna Gaon’s family members and tens of thousands of other Jews. How does that sound? Like a mockery of the close to 50,000 Jews and Non-Jews from around the world who signed the protest petition. How does that sound? Like laughing at the sorrow of the venerable rabbis, of the great leaders of Lithuanian-tradition yeshivas. How does that sound? Like a rape of the very spirit, of the religious and moral norms of the entire nation.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein, Ten Euro Gaon Combo Coin (and its prehistory) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on How does One Hurt and Humiliate a Person (or a People)?

When is a Hollowed-Out Jewish Menorah a Flowerpot for a Symbol Nowadays Brandished by Far-Right Antisemites?



OPINION

by Dovid Katz

[UPDATE OF 27 NOV: See now the same author’s follow-up article of 22 Nov. including links to the known responses and debates up to that date. See now Ruta Bloshtein’s short essay in DH].

Many in the local Lithuanian Jewish and the international Litvak communities have responded with some shock to the news that the Lithuanian government’s official “Year of the Gaon of Vilna and Jewish Heritage” has been launched by a handsome, shiny 10 Euro Coin that plonks a symbol beloved in recent years of neo-Nazis (and prominently used in their new projects) onto a Jewish Menorah. The symbolism strikes some as evoking the idea that the largely vanished Lithuanian Jews and their language make for one of the “cute Jewish toys” for the ultranationalist camp to exploit in its PR outreach to unwitting foreigners.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Double Games, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Ten Euro Gaon Combo Coin (and its prehistory) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on When is a Hollowed-Out Jewish Menorah a Flowerpot for a Symbol Nowadays Brandished by Far-Right Antisemites?