‘Jewish property and a burnt-out land’ on the country’s main news portal Delfi.lt by the former director of the ‘Litvak Foundation’ (Litvaku fondas), whose accomplishments include the projects to erect statues of famed Jewish personalities Tsemakh Shabad and Romain Gary; image published with the article. Text includes the statement: ‘There are about 3000 Jews in Lithuania, and one must keep in mind that only some 1000 are really Lithuanian Jews (heirs and successors to the former Jewish communities), rather than aliens from the East.’ English translation.
What Do Fake Litvak Games Look Like?
In the summer of 2010, Holocaust Survivors protested the government’s new ‘Imposter Litvak’ PR campaign as the PM’s aide boasted of $$ from ‘rich Litvaks’. ALJ, SWC and LSI issue statements, noting continuing Holocaust distortion and the travesty of attempted national identity theft perpetrated against a tiny remnant minority. An anguished Survivor speaks of his pain. UPDATE: Sources close to the Lithuanian Consulate in NY are circulating this proposal, with its list of links representing government PR positions only. Unconfirmed reports claim involvement of a recipient of an award from the Consulate. This website’s proposals for serious measures to resolve the current issues.
Litvak Studies Institute Protests “Fake Litvak” Game by Politicians; Director Mikhail Iossel Issues Statement
Litvak Studies Institute Protests Lithuanian Government’s “Fake Litvak” Forum, Calls on State to Halt PR Gimmickry and Reverse Anti-Jewish Policies
Posted in Press — 20 July 2010
For the dwindling number of aged Litvak survivors who grew up in the East European Jewish civilization decimated by the Holocaust, the anti-Jewish and Holocaust-distorting policies of the Lithuanian government in recent years are deeply painful.
An opposition party member of the Lithuanian Seimas (parliament) has leaked this memo (English translation here), dated 20 July 2010, which purports to be a circular letter from the deputy foreign minister, Sarunas Adomavicius, to the working group (names blocked out) of the ‘Fake Litvak’ Forum (the official name is the ‘Litvak Heritage Forum’). The Forum is viewed as a ploy to hijack Litvak identity and put it to use for government PR purposes.
The day it was announced, 15 July 2010, the prime minister’s chancellor boasted of ‘rich Litvaks’ having been found to finance it. Protests followed immediately from Holocaust Survivors of the ALJ, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Litvak Studies Institute and this website (see here). There is particular fear that it is to serve as cover to deflect attention from the ongoing Continue reading
Jewish Community’s Alperovich Writes to Parliament, as Government’s ‘History Apartheid’ Becomes Official Policy
Dr Shimon Alperovich (Simonas Alperavičius), chairman of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, has written to the chairperson of the Lithuanian parliament, MP Irena Degutienė, concerning the most recent travesty of the government’s ‘Jewish merry-go-round’, as one Western ambassador put it, off the record, during yesterday’s German National day event at Vilnius’s Old Town Hall.
At the September 21st commemorative ceremony at Ponar (Paneriai), the mass murder site of 100,000 civilians (70,000 of them Jewish), mostly at the hands of the Nazis’ fascist collaborators here, the government’s MP Emanuelis Zingeris (now head of the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee), boasted of a parliamentary resolution to declare 2011 the year of Holocaust Remembrance in Lithuania.Continue reading
Vilnius ‘Yiddish Studies Professor’ tells ‘Economist’ that Litvaks who Speak Out for Lithuanian Jewry are ‘Taliban’
Dispatched to London by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, the state-approved director of the Vilnius Yiddish(-less) Institute bemoaned feeling himself ‘between two Talibans’, referring to the antisemitic establishment in Lithuania on the one hand, and to a polite letter of Litvak protest on the other. The comment was reported in today’s Economist, in an article by Edward Lucas, which also reports that the VYI director, Sarunas Liekis, described himself as ‘a Yiddish-studies professor from Vilnius’ [the article as PDF].
The ‘Taliban’ letter was signed among others, by Lord Janner; British MP Denis MacShane; head of the last active Litvak organization in the world, Joe Melamed; the master historian of the Lithuanian Holocaust Prof. Dov Levin; Rabbi Barry Marcus, leader of London’s Central Synagogue. Text of the ‘Taliban’ letter here. Signatories here.
DIGNIFIED MORNING PROTEST
Member 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.
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.
This journal reported on 6 September 2010 on an elaborate plot by the Lithuanian government’s ‘Jewish manipulation department’, as the informal grouping is known in Vilnius diplomatic circles, to usurp (some would say ‘hijack’) the ethnonym Litvak and abuse it to cover for — and facilitate — the state’s policies on Double Genocide and antisemitism with ‘Jewish’ projects.
Did any of the ‘Fake Litvaks’ actually sign the 2011 public letter protesting the capital’s neo-Nazi march?
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
Last Thursday, 3 November, an article I’d submitted to the Jerusalem Post for consideration appeared on the op-ed page (PDF of the print edition here). In democratic societies, sending an opinion piece to a respectable publication, signing it with one’s real name, and opening it (and oneself) to further open debate and discussion are rather standard. As usual, I linked to the article on my Facebook page, expecting some to agree and some to disagree, moving debate forward.
But a number of Facebook Friends who did not react on my page, or any other open forum, did for some reason find it appropriate to join a kind of witch hunt against the article and its author on a page of a “Secret Group” called Lietuva be neonacizmo (Lithuania Without Neo-Nazism), located at: www.facebook.com/groups/135816956486382.
Lithuanian Government Calls for “Bigger Investments from Litvaks” as South Africa’s Glasenberg is Welcomed
According to a BNS news report released today (full text below), the Lithuanian prime minister’s advisor Mykolas Majauskas reported that discussions were held with Glencore’s CEO Ivan Glasenberg concerning plans to inspire more Litvaks to invest in the country. Mr. Majauskas also claimed that “some Litvaks are considering buying farms in Lithuania in order to take active part in communal activities.”
DefendingHistory.com takes the view that Litvak investment should progress in tandem with genuine progress on Lithuanian-Jewish issues, and not as long as the present “dual-track” (“double game”) policies continue to be applied. Ruses attempted have on occasion entailed usurpation of the Litvak identity by government agencies.
Rabinowitz-Dorf: Did the PR firm sell out Lithuanian Jewry to help the current right-wing government “change” the history of the Holocaust with American Jewish cover, while enabling “Fake Litvaks” to misrepresent themselves as representing the Jewish community in Lithuania?
“Moderate Litvak” Status is Conferred by his Highness, the Norwegian Property Magnate cum Editor-in-Chief of Vilnius
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
Thought experiment: Imagine an African American in the city of Columbia, South Carolina, being called an extremist or fanatic for peacefully expressing the opinion that it is offensive for the Confederate flag to be hoisted on the grounds of the state capitol building. Imagine him or her being called extremist or fanatic for failing to be grateful that the flag was, after much protest, moved from atop the dome to the mere grounds of the capitol and its design slightly changed to conform to the Confederate Battle Flag (as a “concession”).
Imagine if a snow-white editor of a web journal singled out for David Duke style praise “Moderate African Americans” who just say “Thank you” when a pathetic morsel of PR is offered up by local authorities in the face of mounting international opprobrium.
There would be public outrage at the racism.
Last March 11th, Lithuanian Independence Day, when over a thousand neo-Nazi marchers passed the sign for the government’s Jewish Public Library on the capital’s main boulevard, no member of the library’s staff turned up to oppose the neo-fascists, with even a modest, polite sign of disapproval. The march proceeded with official permits and the participation of several members of parliament identified with the ruling coalition. The Lithuanian Embassy in Washington DC failed to respond to a DC based petition that attracted 2,156 signatories, many from Lithuanian citizens.
O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
Lithuania’s Jewish community isn’t immune from the broader issues facing Jewish existence in Eastern Europe and there are the same problems of Jewish identity that crop up in Russia, Bulgaria, Poland and elsewhere. And just as there are Christian Evangelicals and others who support the policies of the right-wing in the State of Israel elsewhere in Europe, there are those same voices among Lithuanian politicians and public figures.
What is perhaps different in Lithuania than elsewhere in Eastern Europe is that this Gentile support for Zionist ideals doesn’t translate into support for the surviving local Jewish community or contribute to a profounder and more sympathetic understanding of the Holocaust.
UPDATE OF 5 AUGUST 2012: This essay was republished with permission in the Algemeiner Journal; in 15min.lt (where it seems to have been taken down, but is still listed in Search); in Jewish Ideas Daily (where it was chosen as one of the editor’s picks for 1 August 2012).
Visitors to Vilnius will see any number of plaques dedicated to famous Jewish residents of Vilnius and several dedicated to the Holocaust. Those who look a little deeper under the surface might find there are a number of agencies, organizations and institutions operating in Vilnius which seemingly are aimed at promoting Jewish history, language and culture. In fact, both the plaques and monuments, and the majority of these “Jewish” organizations, serve as little more than window-dressing and display show-cases the Lithuanian government rolls out as exhibits evidencing Lithuanian sincerity in addressing the incomparable atrocity of the Holocaust.
B O O K S
by Olga Zabludoff
Review of We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust by Ellen Cassedy. University of Nebraska Press, 2012.
Had this title been billed as a simple memoir of Cassedy’s trip to Lithuania in the summer of 2004, my criticism of her book would be tempered. She had gone to the land of her ancestors to study Yiddish at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute and to connect with her Jewish roots. The professors and mentors she encounters at the Yiddish Institute come alive, as do the various Lithuanians and Jews with whom she connects. Cassedy is a good writer who captures physical details well. But even at that, this reviewer found the memoir to be superficial.
The major problem is that Cassedy’s book is being promoted as the Bible of the Lithuanian Holocaust by advocates for the current Lithuanian government and elite establishment which aspire to paint for the outside world a distorted version of the Holocaust. A version defined in shades of gray and the confusion they generate. A version that incorporates the mythology of equivalency between crimes committed by the Nazi and Soviet occupation regimes.
SEE ALSO THE REVIEWS BY
Dovid Katz in the Algemeiner Journal
Allan Nadler in the Forward
O P I N I O N
This opinion piece and eyewitness report by Geoff Vasil relates to the July 10th event in honor of the Red-Brown Commission held at the Vilnius Jewish Public Library. See related reports on the library’s instrumentalization as a PR platform for the Commission and the more or less contemporaneous announcement of the Commission’s resumed activities, in the absence of apologies to Yitzhak Arad, Pinchos Fridberg, and the other accused Holocaust survivors.
Red-Brown Commission Member Takes Katz-Bashing Campaign to Litvak Culture Fest in Philadephia; LA Next?
O P I N I O N
A senior historian and his government’s “master fixer for foreign Jewish academics,” Professor Sarunas Liekis told an audience of hundreds in Philadelphia last Sunday that Dovid Katz had never been a professor of Yiddish at Vilnius University, and had been discontinued in 2010 by the American Friends of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute (led by Richard Maullin of Los Angeles) for not having turned up for class for several years (!).
O P I N I O N
The bizarre saga of the Montreal-based Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) “Jewish Lithuania Sutzkever Prize” continues apace with ever-increasing disrespect toward Abraham Sutzkever and his fellow Jewish partisans who helped liberate Lithuania from the Nazis, and ever more political entanglement with current geopolitical instrumentalization of Yiddish and Jewish causes in Eastern Europe in the context of East-West tensions.