Letter from Arkadijus Vinokuras
Vilnius, 29 November 2010
I do appreciate your apology. As you have said, notwithstanding differences of opinion, the facts cannot and must not be twisted deliberately nor by mistake. I see no possibility but to suspect that translators of my text deliberately twisted my words, by improper translation changing the meaning of some passages. This is not acceptable.
It is also not correct to present my person (as it is in the translation) as a government official. It is wrong. I am the public advisor to the Prime Minister of Lithuania on the issue of Compensation of Religious Jewish Property. A public advisor is not on the payroll of the state. The public consultant’s responsibility first of all is to defend the public interest.
One more thing: anyone who has the intention to translate my text into another language, according to the law of copyright, must ask my or my editor’s permission. A translated text must be sent to the author for approval prior to publication.
And now, about my article. This article is one of the strongest statements against expressions of antisemitic views in the Lithuanian Seimas. As you well know, as a political columnist at Lrytas.lt I am one of the strongest spokesmen against antisemitism in the Lithuanian press. On more than one occasion you have presented links to my articles concerning this issue!
And one more thing: maybe, based on a wrong translation, you presented my criticism against the leadership of the association called Lithuanian Jewish Community — as you put it — as a ‘blistering attack on Lithuanian Jewish community’. Against the entire Jewish [small ‘c’] community? In words such as (according to that translation) ‘Lithuanian Jews are shit’? Maybe this was a text written by some convict, a criminal, or a jailbird that was translated? This is not my text.
And may I ask you: Since when is it forbidden to criticize any leadership of any organization? For your information the association Lithuanian Jewish Community represents only 20% of the Jewish population of Lithuania. Ones again: the association LJC does not and nether did it ever represent all Lithuanian Jews.
Dear Editor! I do hope that this unfortunate misunderstanding is not a policy of your website. In the struggle against racism in all its forms and expressions, the last thing we need is to make a mockery of articles of authors who puts all their efforts to fight it.
[Selection of recent articles by Arkadijus Vinokuras here; his website coming soon]
Document referred to in Mr. Vinokuras’s statement and DH comments…
DefendingHistory.com apologizes to Mr Arkadijus Vinokuras (Arkady Vinokur) for an error in the translation published in this journal of his November 4th article in Lrytas.lt. Mr Vinokuras has kindly corrected the text adding a note, highlighted in red on p. 4 of the document, to enable rapid reference. The corrected text of the English translation is here. As the interested reader will note, Mr Vinokuras’s prime complaint is the translation of a certain fine word by ‘shit’ rather than by ‘crap’.
Nevertheless, DefendingHistory.com apologizes to Mr Vinokuras for the mistranslated word (though the translator continues to stand by his original translation). We assure Mr Vinokuras of the willingness to correct mistakes rapidly and fairly and to provide the right of reply.
Mr Vinokuras, a well-known journalist, humorist, and author in Lithuania, has further asked for the publication of his own statement, which appears below in full, and which goes beyond reference to the error in translation, proceeding to critique the Jewish Community of Lithuania to which DefendingHistory.com is openly and proudly loyal. Here, in the realm of views rather than translation issues, the editor of DefendingHistory.com would like to make fully clear the journal’s view, based on twenty years of intensive study of the issue (in part entailing thousands of interviews conducted in the realm of Yiddish Studies) that the Jewish Community of Lithuania represents well over ninety percent of Jews in Lithuania — morally, spiritually, politically, and in everyday life — and that some ‘rival communities’ set up (obviously not including Chabad Lubavitch), are in effect phantoms, state-manipulated and ultimately antisemitically motivated machinations, relying on the figleaf of a tiny number of ambitious, assimilated, high-society Jewish-origin nationalist families who are close to the government circles that would wish for the disappearance of the living Jewish community, and would like instead for ‘Jewish Heritage’ to become a public relations and profit-making toy for morbid tourism (‘extinction porn’), Disneyland ghetto projects, ultranationalist historiography, and various public relations efforts designed to obfuscate or minimize the Lithuanian Holocaust while deceiving naive foreigners that ‘Holocaust Studies’ are being pursued. This view does not imply that those who support these government-manipulated efforts consciously understand the degree to which they are being manipulated, and it assigns no evil on untoward motives to these opinions. The debate continues.
Finally, Mr Vinokuras’s reply invariably raises the issue of his own status. As an adamant opponent of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, how on earth can he, as the prime minister’s advisor on these issues, purport to provide counsel in the public interest, unless the public interest is a priori and ipso facto defined as enmity toward the Jewish Community of Lithuania?
— Dovid Katz