OPINION | VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE | LITVAK AFFAIRS | DEMOCRACY | GOOD WILL FOUNDATION | HUMAN RIGHTS
VILNIUS—Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), candidate for the leadership of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, today issued a statement on his public Facebook page inviting members of the community to participate in the electoral conference for chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community, to be held this Wednesday evening 24 May 2014 6 PM (18:00) at the Karolina Hotel in Vilnius. His statement, in Lithuanian, reminds readers that the recent attempts to cancel the conference (whose date was democratically voted on by a clear majority of Vilnius Jewish Community Board members) would result in the application of the “new rules” decided on in the middle of the current campaign that would effectively disenfranchise 2,200 Vilnius Jews by recounting their votes from the present 22 or so (via the longstanding formula of 100 people = one vote) to one vote, while each of the elite power brokers in the chairperson’s circle (not all of whom live in Lithuania) would in effect have the votes to decide the entire future of the Jewish community, resulting in a tragic undermining of the future of the actual living Jewish people in Lithuania. To make matters worse, various of these “machers” have two or three votes each.
The following is a translation of Mr. Gurevičius’s statement. For more background see the relevant entries (in reverse chronological order) in Defending History’s Vilnius Jewish Life section.
Important Information and an Invitation
by Simonas Gurevičius
Why is every possible effort being invested in delaying the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) conference scheduled to take place on 24 May 2017, while not a word is mentioned concerning the Vilnius Jewish (Litvak) Community conference on 28 May 2017?
The Council of the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) decided during its meeting on 19 April 2017 to arrange a conference of the LJC on 28 May 2017, during which the new chairperson of the LJC and the Council will be elected. As you will have noticed, there is a lot of ado on the VJC conference, but, at the same time, everybody is silent, and intentionally so, about the somewhat more important event.
The LJC Council, during its last meeting, decided to change the norms of representation that had been adhered to for more than eight years. Even though the proportional representation of regional communities is in the statute, the Council will provide each community, whatever its size, with a single vote. [see report — DH]
What does that mean?
The Vilnius Jewish Community, consisting of more than 2,200 members, will have only one delegate — instead of 22 — in the election of the LJC chairperson and the Council, in other words, the same number of delegates assigned to the “Lithuanian Jewish Community Foundation” which has been in the process of liquidation for the past two years and has no employees except the liquidator. The Švenčionys Jewish Community, consisting of 20 members, will have the same number of delegates. While there is no need to deny the importance of smaller communities, the principle of proportionality, stated in the statute, must be retained.
If the [24May] conference of the Vilnius Jewish Community were to not take place or would be postponed, the new chairperson would be elected during the LJC conference this Sunday [28 May] by 25-27 delegates, and in reality the number will be even smaller, as some juridical persons are represented by the same people.
Faina Kukliansky has three votes: for the Good Will Foundation, for the Vilnius Jewish Community, and for the LJC Charity Foundation;
Shmuel Levin has two votes: for the Lithuanian Jewish Religious Community, and for the Vilnius Jewish Religious Community;
Gercas Žakas in practice has three more votes: for the Kaunas Jewish Community, for the Judaic Community of Kaunas Region, and for the Kaunas Hasidic Religious Community;
Sergėjus Kanovičius has two more votes: for the NGO Litvak Cemetery Catalogue MACEVA, and for the Šeduva Jewish Memorial Fund.
Thus, four people, according to this system, have 40 percent of the votes in the election of the chairperson and the Council. Four more votes and one can achieve any desired outcome.
Does this sound to you like democracy?
The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that there are regional communities, in which the chairperson of the regional community disregards the choice of the members and openly states that that community will vote not according to the desires of the majority, notwithstanding the opinion of their members who want to support a certain candidate in the election.
To state it clearly: it takes only eight people to come to an agreement and rig this election.
Even if a thousand people protested, the governing power of the community and its institutions can be elected and, later, the most important decisions for our community made by them.
Unity of the community is important. But “unity” was never a synonym for stupidity. The community is united in its goals of improving its conditions, mutual help, growth, and other positive actions. It is not united in silence when faced with dishonesty and apathy.
Come to the legitimate election of the Vilnius Jewish Community on 24 May at 6 PM. Stay united. Do not let yourselves be deceived.