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Israeli Foreign Policy and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe (1990 — 2021)
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VILNIUS—We had the painful responsibility last week to record the folly of the Israeli embassy in an East European country that would go out of its way to lend “Jewish legitimacy” to a lamentable decision of a national parliament to name the incoming year 2018 in honor of a man, who in addition to whatever acts of bravery as a resistance figure in the postwar Soviet period, was also a leader of an armed pro-Nazi militia in the early days of the Lithuanian Holocaust, in late June and early July of 1941. The primary achievement of these groups, many affiliated with the LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front) fascist “white-armbanders” was the unleashing of pillage, humiliation, harm and murder of their Jewish citizen neighbors. Make no mistake, the Soviets were fleeing, in June 1941, from Hitler’s invasion, the largest in human history, not from the local Jew-killers.
VILNIUS—Israel may have crossed a red line today when it was flaunted on the major News portal Delfi.lt here, both in Lithuanian and in English, that Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon had found the time this week to stage a demonstrative PR-photographed visit to the chief campaigner for the parliament’s decision less than one month ago to name 2018 in honor of Adolfas Ramanauskas — his daughter in Vilnius, Auksutė Ramanauskaitė-Skokauskienė, who is a prime icon of the ultranationalist camp that often glorifies various collaborators and participants in the Holocaust on the grounds that they were also anti-Soviet activists. The PR move came just after a major political commentator asked what Lithuania is getting in return for its staunch political support for the Netanyahu government.
UPDATES TO THIS ARTICLE: WEEKLY OF VILNIUS COMMENTARY; AMBASSADOR’S BETRAYAL OF HOLOCAUST HISTORY A FIASCO AS LITHUANIA VOTES ANYWAY AGAINST U.S. DECISION TO MOVE ITS EMBASSY (PARTING WITH NEIGHBORING LATVIA)
One of the PR photos released shows the ambassador posing underneath adulatory photos of the 1941 pro-Nazi militiaman (from various other periods in his life). Of course Lithuania has a vast number of inspirational historical heroes, including many anti-Soviet heroes, who were not Holocaust collaborators, and state decisions to honor collaborators cause untold pain to survivors, their families, and the remnant Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. They all send a message that becomes part of the history-revision campaign to downgrade the Holocaust in the context of “Double Genocide” revisionism.
VILNIUS—Yet again, a conference here in the Lithuanian capital dedicated to combating fascism and antisemitism is announced, without there having been a public call for papers, without a single speaker from among those who actually combat fascism and antisemitism in the country, with nobody from the democratically elected Vilnius Jewish community (not even the long-time editor of Jerusalem of Lithuania who has exposed and combated antisemitism for decades). No Holocaust survivors. None of the nationally relevant questions of the day can be found on the conference program. As ever, outstanding academic personalities from abroad are recruited to lend the gravitas and provide serious papers on an array of topics (which they admirably do), as long as these have little directly to do with the actual contemporary issues here in Lithuania (but the conference introduction by Prof. Dovilė Budrytė does indeed touch on some of the issues, which seem, however, to be largely absent from the actual conference program). The last such event, in 2015, resulted in the Norwegian Embassy withdrawing support and launching an inquiry on behalf of the EEA (European Economic Area) funders of that event.
Full credit to the Forward’s Paul Berger, who has, as ever, sought to be meticulously fair in his new article on some aspects of contemporary Lithuanian Jewish life. This “addendum” goes in a sense more to the wider issues encountered when Western journalists cover stories in the “slightly exotic east,” here in Eastern Europe, on ground zero of the Holocaust, where Jewish communities are ipso facto remnant communities, and where certain larger trends can at times be in play.