The assistant director of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Ruta Puisyte, reported today that Dr. Efraim Zuroff’s scheduled seminar at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute was cancelled on the orders of the institute’s director, Professor Sarunas Liekis. No explanation was given.
Dissenting Academic Rapidly Replaced with Foreign Stand-in at the Jerusalem Book Fair; Dr Rachel Margolis Betrayed Again
After authoring the book on Litvak culture for the Lithuanian section at the Jerusalem Book Fair, the editor of this website declined to attend to chair the Yiddish culture session, when he was asked not to bring to the fair Dr Rachel Margolis, resident in Rechovot; she is one of the heroic Jewish partisans defamed by the Double Genocide industry.
The Lithuanian government unit running these affairs rapidly replaced him with the Yiddish professor from the Borns Jewish Studies program at Indiana University (Bloomington).
The ‘Book Fair Affair’ was widely reported. See: Haaretz: ‘When Lithuania was Yiddishland’ by Raphael Ahren; also: comments by Milan Chersonski, editor of the Jewish community’s periodical, Jerusalem of Lithuania: ‘It’s not just about the Jerusalem Book Fair’ (Jan-March 2009); May 2010 update on Dr Margolis’s situation here.
More details here on the ‘Book Fair Affair’ and the further cooperation of the Borns Jewish Studies program with the nationalist establishment in Vilnius.
A certificate of appreciation for Dr Rachel Margolis, issued by Great Britain’s Lord Janner of Braunstone, was delivered at the Dr Rachel Margolis event chaired today at Leivick House in Tel Aviv by its director, composer Daniel Galay.
The keynote speaker was Israeli ambassador to Latvia and Lithuania, Chen Ivri Apter, who awarded Dr Margolis a certificate of merit from the Israeli embassy in Riga. Tel Aviv schoolchildren who study Yiddish with Hannah Pollin-Galay presented a cultural program of song, and a gift of flowers to Dr Margolis. Other speakers included professors Israel Bartal, Dov Levin (Jerusalem) and Dovid Katz (Vilnius).
Seminars on Holocaust Obfuscation had to be held in private apartments during the Summer Program in Yiddish Language and Literature. [UPDATES added in later months as these materials appeared: Memoirs have been published by Julia Blaukopf (Photographic Interiors, Pennsylvania); Jana Hock (Museum Ritter, Waldenbuch); Michael Cohen (more recent article here); Josh Markovitz (both UCLA). There have been comments in the Guardian and the Nation.]
The Vilnius Yiddish Institute staff list distributed to summer course students was purged of staff who spoke out publicly on behalf of the accused survivors and against ‘Double Genocide’. Lectures were convened at private apartments on August 10, 17, 19, 20 (more details at: Events). Image from 17 August; first and last slides; slide on European Parliament issues; more at Jamie Ehrenpreis’s Facebook site. Group of participants after the 19 Aug. presentation; more by J. Ehrenpreis here.
Austrian Holocaust museum volunteer Adalbert Wagner set up power-point facilities, generously lent by the Green House Holocaust Museum. The organization of these lectures was assisted by VYI summer course participants Dr Judy Freier, Dr Ilya Levin, Prof Abraham Lichtenbaum, Daniel Nemenyi, Dr Shimon Samuels, Berti Wagner. Larry Mandel, Daniel Nemenyi and Martina Ravagnan for opened up their homes to one lecture each.
It is thought that the ‘Dirty Tricks Department’ of the Lithuanian government unit aiming to manipulate Jewish issues is planning for the Yiddish institute to become a PR tool of the government, with the Yiddish professor of Bloomington, Indiana brought over summertime and for select events to provide the necessary Yiddish Studies Cover for several weeks a year.
Jonathan Freedland’s article in today’s Guardian includes the sad tale of the founder of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute having to give his lectures at students’ homes after being banned by the (non-Yiddish-specialist) government operative installed as “director” after state prosecutors launched proceedings against Holocaust survivors for their “crime” of having escaped the ghetto to join up with anti-N azi Soviet forced who were, in alliance with the United States and Great Britain during the Holocaust, the only force seriously fighting the Nazis in Lithuania and the rest of Eastern Europe.
Is the Vilnius Yiddish Institute about to become a PR unit of the government agencies responsible for Holocaust manipulation and the ongoing investment in Yiddish and Jewish projects as cover for history manipulation?
The article, by Jonathan Freedland is available here.
Lithuania’s Last Jewish Professor has Contract Terminated, after Mounting Defense for Holocaust Survivors accused of ‘War Crimes’
Discontinuation of the contract of Lithuania’s last Jewish professor — Dovid Katz, founding Yiddish professor at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute and editor of this website — for having mounted a defense of the defamed Holocaust Survivors, and building (via the Vilnius diplomatic community, op-eds in mainstream publications, and this site) international opposition to the ‘Double Genocide’ movement in Europe, and in Lithuania.
Joseph Levinson, 93, Holocaust Historian, Honored in London; But Q & A session is manipulated by translator
Joseph Levinson of Vilnius, born in March 1917 — an anti-Nazi war veteran, founding figure of Vilnius’s ‘Green House’, historian of the Lithuanian Holocaust, and author of The Book of Sorrow (Vilnius 1997) and The Shoah in Lithuania (English edition: Vilnius 2006) — was honored in London’s Central Synagogue at a splendid event on Wednesday evening 1 September 2010. Details here.
Elegantly chaired by the synagogue’s Rabbi Barry Marcus, a scion of luminous Lithuanian rabbis, himself born in South Africa, it included speeches by Iain Duncan Smith (‘IDS’), Britain’s Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and the Israeli ambassador to the UK, HE Ron Prosor. The Central Synagogue’s hall was packed. [Added 20 September 2010: See the 2 Sept report in The Jewish News, and Simon Round’s interview with Mr Levinson in The Jewish Chronicle.]
Holocaust Revisionists Successfully Manipulate Borns Jewish Studies Program (Indiana U, Bloomington); Vilnius Yiddish Institute is Purged with ‘a little help from Bloomington’
After authoring the book on Litvak culture for the Lithuanian section at the February 2009 Jerusalem Book Fair, the editor of this website who is the founding professor of Yiddish at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, declined to attend to chair the Yiddish culture session, when he was told not to bring to the fair Dr. Rachel Margolis, resident in Rechovot. Dr. Margolis is one of the heroic Jewish partisans defamed by the Double Genocide industry.
The Lithuanian government unit running these affairs rapidly replaced him with Dov-Ber Kerler, the Alice Field Cohen professor at the Borns Jewish Studies program at Indiana University (Bloomington), who did not have time to keep a promise to visit with Dr. Rachel Margolis in Rechovot, as a symbol of moral support for the accused Holocaust Survivors. The complete program of events paid for by the Lithuanian government is here (but note that contrary to the published-for-PR schedule, Yitzhak Arad did not — as a matter of principle — appear at the event).
Director of Yiddish Institute heading to Kazakhstan to Promote Freedom of Expression for Journalists
YIDDISH BORAT, HAVING SAVED FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IN LITHUANIA, HEADS FOR KAZAKHSTAN TO EDUCATE THE OSCE. HE ‘CLEANSED’ HIS ‘YIDDISH INSTITUTE’ OF YIDDISH FOR 11 MONTHS OF THE YEAR. . .
Sarunas Liekis, director of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute has been appointed by Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to an elite team of experts who were sent to a Review Conference in Warsaw (30 Sept — 8 Oct), in preparation for a second Review Conference in Vienna (18-26 Oct), and a third in Astana, Kazakhstan (26-28 Nov). These are all in preparation for a much larger OSCE summit scheduled for Kazakhstan that will follow on 1-2 December in Astana, that nation’s capital.
A prime theme of the OSCE summit, which marks Lithuania’s accession to the chairmanship of OSCE, is media freedom and safety of journalists.
This journal sincerely hopes the VYI’s director, Professor Sarunas Liekis, will report to the OSCE on the failure of Lithuanian prosecutors to abandon the lamentable investigation into his own institute’s librarian, 88 year old Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, who has, along with other Holocaust Survivors, been the victim of an ultranationalist state-sponsored campaign of defamation. Details here. These are grave violations of human rights that were duly brought to the attention of the OSCE in December 2009.
The role of the press has been vital in these sad events.
The British ambassador to Lithuania, HE Simon Butt, today visited Professor Dovid Katz’s Vilna Yiddish Reading Circle, an advanced Yiddish- in-Yiddish institution that Prof. Katz initiated in September 1999. As guest of honor, Ambassador Butt, who listened to participants reading from the works of Yiddish authors with interest, was invited to say a few words. He told the assembled hat he deeply understands their concerns over resurgent antisemitism, ultranationalism, Holocaust revisionism and the attempted defamation of Jewish partisan heroes. He made it clear that “he is on the case” and gave reasons for hope and optimism.
Front row, from left: Prof. Dovid Katz (standing); Dr. Shimon Alperovich, chairman of the Jewish Community of Lithuania,, Ambassador Simon Butt, and Prof. Izaraelis Lempertas (Israel Lempert). Standing at right at the back if Carole Lemee, a university lecturer from France visiting in Lithuania.
Under the leadership of Yidish lebt (‘Yiddish Lives’), a group uniting non-Jewish and Jewish enthusiasts and students of Yiddish language, literature and culture in Warsaw, a peaceful counter-demonstration is being planned in response to the neo-Nazi march slated to take place on November 11th, Polish Independence Day. More details here. Image of the Yiddish group’s poster:Continue reading
Jewish & non-Jewish Yiddishists, and Judaic Studies Enthusiasts, March Together in Warsaw to Protest the Fascist March
photo courtesy Bogna Eliza Pawlisz
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.
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
The article was signed by ‘Jacob London (Oxford)’, the pseudonym of Sovetish Heymland veteran Gennady Estraikh who was secretary to the Soviet magazine’s editor Aaron Vergelis for many years. Now, a resident of New York, he is listed as the paper’s editor for its ‘European Bureau’. It is quite shocking for many readers that the paper’s editor-in-chief, Boris Sandler, himself a Sovetish Heymland veteran, allows for the paper’s abuse for fake-name, fake-place vicious attack on colleagues in the field of Yiddish Studies.
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.
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.
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
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 (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.
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).
Lithuanian Foreign Ministry Triumphantly Announces Its Yivo Coup — A Capitulation on ‘(Looted) Books and (Hijacked) Brand’ Sought for Two Decades — on 23 September, Day of Commemoration for the Vilna Ghetto
But confusion reigns after Yivo director tells Jewish press in New York that surrender of books and brand is not yet final
Yivo Director’s Statement on Lithuanian Foreign Minister’s 2010 Antisemitic Comments, Plus Some Facts
“Fact: The anti-Semitic comment allegedly made by Foreign Minister Ažubalis and quoted by Efraim Zuroff (Simon Wiesenthal Center, Israel) as fact was hearsay.”
14 October 2010: Respected journalist Vytautas Bruveris publishes his report (“Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Strategist Sees Jewish Conspiracy”) in Lietuvos rytas, on the foreign minister’s comments made to a meeting of his entire political faction (Homeland Union / Christian Democrats), now the country’s ruling party, in a meeting in the country’s parliament. PDF here. Full English translation here.
14 October 2010: Immediate response of the Jewish Community of Lithuania after the convening of a special meeting of the community’s Board of Directors in which twenty-one board members participated. Authorized English text here.
14 October 2010: DefendingHistory.com report here.
15 October 2010: Alfa.lt reports, citing in detail the press release issued by the foreign minister in reply. His remarks, made to his entire party faction, could not easily be denied, so the reports are attacked by the ministry’s press release as ‘hearsay’, the foreign ministry line since then, faithfully produced verbatim on 13 September 2011 by the obliging head of Yivo in New York City (see quote and link at top of this page).