Tag Archives: Antony Polonsky
OPINION | UCL MANIPULATED | LITVAK AFFAIRS | COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED | UK | JEWISH EVENTS AS COVER | USEFUL JEWISH IDIOTS (UJIs) | VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE
LONDON—It’s that time of year again. The “Litvak” and “Yiddish” grandees of University College London’s Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and various cohorts from near and far, queue up to bask in the pot-of-lentil glories offered for their repeated championing of state PR, even when it entailed betrayal of the interests and causes of Holocaust survivors, the actual Litvak legacy, and bona fide Yiddish language and culture. The roster from previous years includes the 2011 conference intended to “fix” the narrative of the Holocaust in the direction of Double Genocide, which resulted in a major protest that included, to her (and the department’s) great credit, the then head-of-department (For the Economist’s coverage see here and here; more media). The record also includes the 2012 refusal of conference organizers to allow a Holocaust survivor five minutes to read a polite statement of concern.
2 Sept 2016: Forward Exposes Rapid Deterioration of Free Speech and Academic Research on the Holocaust in Poland
1 August 2016: Dozens of Scholars of Polish Jewish History Publish a Bold and Historic Open Letter on Polish Government’s Distortions of History on Jedwabne and Kielce
Suspense rising on ultimate decision of master Brandeis scholar Antony Polonsky, who some think may have been manipulated by Lithuanian state honors in that country’s Holocaust politics
UCL Hebrew-Jewish Studies Dept Rejects Request for Five Minutes for Holocaust Survivor to Read Petition at Lithuanian Gov. Sponsored Conference
London observers were wondering whether the medal Professor Antony Polonsky received earlier this year from the president of Lithuania for his PR work for the Lithuanian government may have something to do with his denial of Monica Lowenberg’s request, asking for five minutes for her father, a Holocaust survivor, to read out at next week’s conference her petition to the Lithuanian government, proposing constructive solutions to the issues at hand. The petition has to date garnered over 250 signatories from two dozen countries. The following is the correspondence, which started with Ms. Lowenberg’s appeal to Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert and Dr. Francois Guesnet. Dr. Guesnet, the Corob Reader in Jewish History at UCL is one of the conference coordinators on behalf of the Lithuanian government funded institutions financing the conference. Holocaust survivors consulted cannot understand why safe and secure academics who hold high posts at Western institutions should so fear “even to give five minutes for somebody else to come and disagree” with the conference’s pay-masters in the freedom of the British capital.
“אַ מעדאַל פון אחשוורושן„
Can history be bought with state budgets? Can awards and honors from high officials of the Lithuanian government for Western and Jewish personalities provide public cover for the campaign to diminish and downgrade the history of the Holocaust in accordance with Baltic Holocaust revisionism?
NOTE: There is no suggestion that any of those honored, all eminent persons, realized that they were being elevated with ulterior motives. But the de-facto linkage of honors with espousal of varying aspects of red-brown revisionism (and/or simply to join in discrediting colleagues who disagree with Lithuanian government policies) makes way for disturbing questions, given the state investment in the politics of the Prague Declaration and Double Genocide. Persons entangled in the campaign would no doubt wish to be made aware of the wider patterning, with absolutely no disrespect.
AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE (AJC) IN VILNIUS: President of Lithuania awards American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris high cross and medal in 2021 for decades of works for Lithuania. These have included underpinning and legitimizing the “red-brown commission” that spearheads Holocaust revisionism and that has caused so much pain to Holocaust survivors and their families for a quarter century. His AJC colleague Andy Baker has beat him (please scroll down) by winning two separate medals after decades of undermining local Jewish people and survivors in favor of state-chosen Jewish leaders. Whether it is a project to construct a national convention center in the heart of the Old Vilna cemetery, to cancel out the democratically elected community in favor of a fake-election gov. chosen elite, or to downgrade and relativize the Holocaust via “double genocide” revisionism using a “historic commission” the American Jewish Committee “has always been there for decades” to betray local Jewish people and causes, pursuing the personal motives of endless junkets, photo-ops, banquets and, of course, medals to take home for a handful of glorified leaders.
Time for the ACJ to appoint an internal commission of inquiry, or for outside journalists to investigate properly? Please see Defending History’s section on the role of the AJC in Lithuania over the years.
After a decade of betraying Holocaust survivors, helping cover for the glorification of collaborators, and betraying the Yiddish language that Yivo was created to support, Yivo CEO Dr. Jonathan Brent was awarded the Cross of the Knight of the Order in 2019 by the president of Lithuania for “promotion” of the government’s PR interests in 2019. Shortly thereafter, he fired all of the New York Yivo’s librarians. See the heartfelt pleas over the years from Vilnius survivors including Milan Chersonski and Pinchos Fridberg.
Vilnius, Lithuania, May 2012: Lithuanian Foreign Minister HE Audronius Ažubalis honors American historian Timothy Snyder during the week when the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister was reburied by the state with full honors. An open letter to Prof. Snyder. Respectfully disagreeing with some aspects of his recent book.
Washington DC, Oct. 2014: the Gold Star from the embassy finally comes:
Washington, DC, March 2012: Ellen Cassedy’s book We are Here is launched at the Lithuanian Embassy in Washington DC by the nation’s ambassador, HE Zygimantas Pavilonis, who did not, however, respond to public petitions to halt his nation’s city-center neo-Nazi march that month, or subsequent requests for the removal of state sponsored memorials to Nazi killers and collaborators. Reviews of the book here and here. The Lithuanian edition is being rushed through the press. In a 2012 interview, Ms. Cassedy stated: “I went to Lithuania, hoping to decide who was right and who was wrong; to put people in a column, who was a victim, who was a killer. And then those lines began to blur.”
Recommended reviews of Ms. Cassedy’s book:
Vilnius, Lithuania, January 2012: Professor Antony Polonsky, one of the world’s leading historians of Polish Jewry, is awarded the Cross of the Officer of the Order for Merits to Lithuania by the president of the Republic of Lithuania HE Dalia Grybiauskaitė, after helping fudge the Rachel Margolis case and shifting by some degrees the acceptable definition of “genocide” to the liking of the Lithuanian government. Details here.
A few months later, the same honor guard welcomed to Lithuania, for reburial with full honors amid gala events, the remains of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister who signed papers confirming orders for Jewish citizens of his city, Kaunas, to be sent to a murder camp, and then for all the rest to be incarcerated in a ghetto within one month. There was no public comment from the decorated professor who went on to headline Lithuanian government sponsored PR roadshows in the United States.
Washington, DC, November 2011: Harley Felstein (right) is effectively crowned king of the (vassal) Litvaks by the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States (center) and his plenipotentiary (left). The “king” went on to co-author a PR op-ed that included a shocking pro-fascist reinterpretation of the history of the Holocaust (crediting the view that the initial murderers who unleashed the Lithuanian Holocaust were actually freedom fighters). It drew a swift response. More details in the comments section to a VilNews article, in a later discussion following a Forward article, and a DeeHist.com report.
See now Paul Berger’s exposé in the Forward (as PDF).
Vilnius, Lithuania c. 2006. Rabbi Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee receives the Cross of the Officers Award of Merit from President Valdas Adamkus, who also used his tenure in office to rehabilitate an array of local Nazi war criminals. Details here. Rabbi Baker continues to lend “Jewish cred” to the “red-brown commission.” Resignations to date from the commission and its committee of experts include Sir Martin Gilbert (London), Prof. Gershon Greenberg (Washington, DC), Prof. Konrad Kwiet (Sydney) and Prof. Dov Levin (Jerusalem).
UPDATE: In 2012, the foreign minister of Lithuania followed up the previous president’s cross with a new award : the Lithuanian Star of Diplomacy. This foreign minister’s record included antisemitic outbursts, the infamous “moustache” response to the Seventy Years Declaration, support for the state sponsored reburial with full honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister and publication of a plan to (ab)use the 2013 presidency of the European Union to push the “unified history” (i.e. red-brown-for-all) agenda.
UPDATE: In 2020, three elected members of the Board of the Vilnius Jewish Community, representing the vast majority of living Jewish citizens in Lithuania, wrote to Rabbi Baker about the diversion away from Jewish interests of the millions in restitution governed by the “Good Will Foundation” of which Rabbi Baker has been a permanent co-chair. Read their public letter on Facebook [as PDF], and judge yourself Rabbi Andrew Baker’s diplomatic reply).
Do the American Jewish Committee’s donors know of the pain and damage he and the AJC has caused to Jewish people and causes in Lithuania? Please see Defending History’s section on the role of the AJC in Lithuania over the years.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) had this announcement on its website (screenshot of 11 October 2012):
Professor Evan Zimroth of the City University of New York (Queens College) is an accomplished author and educator with a long record of civic activity. Here she is awarded the millennial star at the Lithuanian consulate in New York by Foreign Minister Vygaudas Ušackas in September 2009 (see his 2011 published comments on the period of Nazi rule in Lithuania). She has since circulated personal attacks, complete with conspiratorial suppositions, against those who deign to criticize current Lithuanian government policies on Jewish affairs.
Vilnius, Lithuania, March 2006. Dr. Richard Maullin honored at the event to unveil the new plaque in his honor naming the main study area of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute as the Richard Maullin Study Hall (in the absence of any endowment or capital sum to the university or its institutes). Dr. Maullin and his partner Natasha (Natalia) Yatskevich, and high figures from Vilnius University were in attendance. Dr. Maullin had a year earlier purchased the “shares” of the Yiddish institute for US $25,000 from Israeli resident Mendy Cahan, a co-founder of the institute. Dr. Maullin, recruited by Lithuanian government-friendly forces after the 2008 start of “The Troubles,” failed to even respond politely to letters of concern about the institute’s purges that were coming from Western ambassadors in 2009, and from the Israeli embassy. Maullin duly fulfilled the Lithuanian government’s “requirement” that his institute be purged to staff who disagree with the state’s Holocaust revisionism policies. Since 2010, his “Yiddish institute” has had no full-time Jewish members of academic staff, no full-time Yiddish specialist, and it has become a PR tool of the far right’s history-revisionism agenda.
A further crunch came in September 2012 when Vilnius University mounted a major exhibit by an antisemitic, homophobic artist a few yards from his institute. Dr. Maullin and his remaining board of three remained silent. He and Ms. Yatskevich have been feted in Vilnius on numerous occasions. In recent years, he has been appointed by California’s Governor Jerry Brown to the California Independent System Operator Board of Governors. In December 2013, Dr. Berg resigned from the Board as a matter of principle, leaving T. Lunson, R. Maullin, and D. Opatoshu.
Finally, after five years of maintaining a “purged Yiddish institute” that exists for Lithuanian government propaganda, Maullin received the highest accolade yet for his political loyalty. He was honored by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry (not the culture ministry….) in California where the Foreign Minister of Lithuania put the Lithuanian Diplomatic Star around his neck, and he was photographed for posterity between the foreign minister and the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States, together with Mrs. Natasha Maullin and other guests (DH report).
Yiddish professors Dov-Ber Kerler (Bloomington, Indiana; also a famous poet) and Anna Verschik (Tallinn, Estonia) are featured on t-shirts extolling (in Yiddish) “Lithuania” and “Vilnius” as part of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute where both cheerfully cover each summer for Lithuanian nationalist officials’ disemployment of the institute’s founder and only resident Yiddish professor who was for years a Yiddish teacher of both t-shirt honorees. The political instrumentalization of Yiddish by far right state-sponsored bodies remains a concern for the fragile field of Yiddish studies, particularly in Eastern Europe.
Antony Polonsky Returns to Brandeis ‘Knighted’ by Lithuanian President’s Cross of the Officer of the Order — for helping the Baltic State’s Holocaust PR Campaign
C O M M E N T
VILNIUS—Professor Antony Polonsky of Brandeis University, one of the world’s most accomplished scholars of Polish-Jewish history and the long time editor of the seminal Polish Jewish history series Polin, was at the Lithuanian president’s palace today to receive from her excellency the prestigious Cross of the Officer of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. The award, pinned on his chest by President Dalia Grybauskaitė, was not for a lifetime of sterling work on Polish Jewish history, but it seemed, for several years’ staunch and perhaps somewhat naive loyalty to the public relations program of the current government of Lithuania, organized by the local Holocaust revisionism elite’s alleged top handler of “important foreign Jews,” Prof. S.arunas Liekis. The presidential press release, reported in English by Baltic News Service (BNS), put it this way:
O P I N I O N
This comment appeared in today’s Jewish Chronicle (London) and is reposted here by the author’s permission.
A financially-strapped small Eastern European country is spending tens of thousands of pounds to sponsor an extraordinarily large number of political and cultural events ― lectures, concerts, exhibitions and films ― in London next week. Why? That is the obvious question for the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, several Lithuanian cultural institutions, and local UK partners.
Under the heading No Simple Stories; Jewish-Lithuanian relationships: facing difficult questions, the events are projected as an honest attempt to address the ostensibly complex history of Lithuania’s once very large Jewish community, which was irreparably decimated during the Holocaust — 96.4% of the 220,000 Jews who lived in Lithuania under the Nazi occupation were slaughtered, with the help of a large number of local collaborators.