SYMBOLOGY | THE TEN-EURO “GAON COIN” | ABUSE OF JEWISH PROJECTS | THE “FAKE LITVAK” INDUSTRY | HUMAN RIGHTS
VILNIUS—According to a report by the website Save Vilna that also appeared in the Christian News Journal, the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States, HE Rolandas Kriščiūnas has personally assured the chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Jim (James E.) Risch “that there will be no conference centre on the cemetery.” The meeting resulted from months-long diplomacy by Christian Evangelical journalist Dr. Matthew Anthony Harper of InterMountain Christian News, a prominent campaigner against the desecration of Jewish cemeteries. Over the past year, he has passionately represented the cause in Vilnius and Tel Aviv, in addition to his work as a White House correspondent representing Christian media. Together with a delegation of top Lithuanian tradition rabbis in Israel, he spoke eloquently at a videotaped meeting with the Lithuanian ambassador to Tel Aviv.
VILNIUS—An ad-hoc group of rabbis, lawyers and Jewish communal leaders, mostly from the United States, today issued a statement of protest calling the new “Vilna Gaon coin” issued by the Lithuanian government a “rare display of cynicism.” Their press release:
VILNIUS—The Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) today issued the following authoritative English language text of its statement following the Vilnius District Court’s decision of 21 December 2017 (earlier versions appeared in Lithuanian and Russian). The following is the text as it appeared today on the VJC’s Facebook page. Since the court ruling there have been media reports in Defending History, JTA, Times of Israel, Forward, and various other outlets.
VILNIUS—In comments reported today by the Lithuanian press service ELTA, the nation’s prime minister, Saulius Skvernelis has announced and hailed the decision to proceed with a national convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery as one that “will lift the Lithuanian capital to a higher level of competitiveness in tourism.” He also notes that “the lack of a modern congress center in Vilnius is the main obstacle for the development of conference tourism in Lithuania,” not mentioning that there are numerous alternative sites for much more rapid and hassle-free construction of such a center.
One does not have to be a theoretical champion of Free Enterprise vs. Government Intervention to take stock of this week’s incredible contrast between the two major products of this last week in September, the annual week of intensive Jewish commemoration activity in Lithuania, and particularly, in its fabled capital, Vilnius. By “products” we mean things of substantive physicality that will outlive by far the week’s posturing, speeches, and meetings with glittering public officials and national leaders.
VILNIUS—The following statement by Professor Shnayer (Sid) Leiman, appeared today in the respected American weekly Five Towns Jewish Times. It is a reaction to the comments by Lithuania’s top leaders, made after receiving a letter of protest from twelve United States congressmen concerning plans to site a projected new national convention center in the heart of the territory of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius). International opposition to “the convention center in the old Jewish cemetery” continues to mount.
VILNIUS—The following statement by Vilnius native and resident Ruta Bloshtein, an active member of the city’s religious Jewish community, appeared today as an update to her international petition, which has just approached the 40,000 signature mark. Her update was issued as a reaction to the comments by Lithuania’s top leaders, made after receiving a letter of protest from twelve United States congressmen concerning plans to site a projected new national convention center in the heart of the territory of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius). International opposition to “the convention center in the old Jewish cemetery” continues to mount.
MORE ON THE CPJCE. OUR OPEN LETTER TO THEM. Exposés by Wikileaks, Jerusalem Post, JTA, and DH.
UPDATE: THIS ARTICLE WAS REPUBLISHED IN THE FIVE TOWNS JEWISH TIMES
In a remarkable interview cited today in the highly respected Five Towns Jewish Times, an Orthodox publication based in Inwood, Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, and Hewlett, all in Nassau County, Queens, New York, Rabbi Abraham Ginsberg, the PR specialist for the London-based CPJCE (“Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe”) is quoted as explaining why, in his estimation, the Lithuanian state feels the burning national-priority need to build a convention center and annex in the heart of Vilna’s historic Jewish cemetery that dates to the 15th century and continues to hold the remains of thousands of Vilna Jewish citizens whose families duly bought their plots over the centuries:
“I asked the rabbi why we are accepting the fact that this excavation and construction that will potentially unearth more bones and destroy many more graves must go forward.
“The rabbi explained that the location is important to Lithuanians because it was in this stadium now in disrepair and rotting that the Lithuanians declared their independence in the aftermath of the collapse of Communism in 1990. ‘This location is Lithuania’s London Tower and Statue of Liberty; they are not letting it go anytime soon,’ Rabbi Ginsberg said.
“He’s a little upset at the American rabbis who met with the Lithuanian ambassador in Washington last week.”
The following Letter to the Editor (see middle column) from Professor Shnayer Leiman appeared in today’s edition of Ami, following upon the 18 January 2017 feature article by Riva Pomerantz, “Guardian of the Cemetery.”
NEW YORK—Tomorrow’s daytime event featuring Nida Degutiene’s new book, A Taste of Israel: From Classic Litvak to Modern Israel (Penguin Random House South Africa 2016) is a joint production of the Consulate General of Lithuania in New York City and the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research. It will be held at the Consulate General’s offices at 420 Fifth Avenue at 12:30 PM on Monday 16 January 2017. Defending History recommends the event to our readers in the New York City area and we recommend Ms. Degutiene’s excellent book (available from many outlets including Amazon).
VILNIUS—This city’s dashing young new mayor, Remigijus Šimašius, elected last spring, has now added Yiddish to the previously bilingual (Lithuanian-English) signs, wrought of expensive metal in rounded-edged casement, in times of austerity for pensioners and others in town. These signs are being placed near Soviet-era edifices made of pilfered Jewish gravestones (matséyves) that are a blot on this charming East European capital. This is the latest model featured on the mayor’s office website:
→ זשאַגער (Zhager) by Rod Freedman; by Sara Manobla; by Rose Zwi; by DH.com
→ Bankier’s last book
→ Cassedy reviewed by Allan Nadler; by Efraim Zuroff; by Olga Zabludoff; by Dovid Katz
→ אחשוורוש מעדאַלן
→ Forward’s Paul Berger on “Sunflower Litvaks” (PDF)
→ Reply to Economist
→ Berzhinis’s film
→ Račinskas brand of “Holocaust studies”
→ In London Jewish News
→ “Moderate Litvaks”
Most counts put at eighteen the number of participants in a small, polite but determined picket line outside the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv this evening. The protesters, Holocaust survivors from Lithuania and their supporters, sported signs in English, Hebrew and Yiddish taking to task the government-manipulated gala evening being held inside the hotel by “Yisrael Lita” at which the Lithuanian foreign minister, a determined opponent of accurate Holocaust comemmoration, was “guest of honor.”