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Israeli Foreign Policy and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe (1990 — 2021)
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The following comment appeared on Facebook today:
YAD VASHEM’S “political department” and the group that visited Lithuania last week:
Thanks to both members of the group who quietly reached out to the Defending History team for a meeting. As you saw, nothing but good comes from relaxed, pleasurable, respectful and frank exchange of ideas and knowledge, over a cup of coffee. It was sad that the group was (again) hermetically sealed from “The Second Opinion” here in Vilnius (and those Holocaust survivors who hold such opinions), as if Israeli citizens cannot be trusted to cope with a rich tapestry of opposing views when they visit Eastern Europe. (That various “Yiddish” institutions gleefully, at times, play the role of gatekeeper of ideas here is another issue.) For background on the issues from our team’s perspective, please see:
Over the years some amazing Israeli heroes of truth and courage have indeed spoken out.
TEL AVIV—The office of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel today released the text of the Hebrew letter which the ALJ’s chairman, Tel Aviv attorney Joseph Melamed, sent today to Avner Shalev, the director of Yad Vashem. Images of the letter’s two pages follow (signed letter as PDF). English translation here.
See also the separate English statement which the ALJ released to the media earlier today, following the recent news about the Lithuanian government renewing a much enlarged red-brown commission with the ostensible participation of Yad Vashem.
From: Dovid Katz [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 1:17 PM
To: גביר יוסי
Cc: ‘Simon Wiesenthal Center-Israel Office’; ‘Dov Levin’; ‘Joseph Melamed’
Subject: from Dovid Katz (Vilnius University)
Greetings dear Yossi (at the moment from Tel Aviv),
Trust this finds you and all at Yad Vashem well and thriving. As you may recall, we corresponded for several months in Spring 2008. I had been (and frankly remain) disappointed that by continuing to allow Yad Vashem’s name to appear as a partner of the Lithuanian government sponsored “Red-Brown Commission” even as the falsification of history (replacement of the very notion of the Holocaust by a paradigm of two equal genocides) continues apace at the European Parliament. Parliamentarians are told: “Look, Yad Vashem is with us….” Of course Yad Vashem has no such intention, and we are in agreement that it’s important for Lithuanian teachers to be educated in Jerusalem but that should be facilitated through any of the various honest NGOs or educators, not the “Red-Brown Commission” whose major current project is passage of the “equal genocide” resolutions in the European Parliament. My two recent op-eds on the topic are in the Jewish Chronicle and Irish Times.
Holocaust survivors from Lithuania, and their families and advocates, are reporting feelings of “shock and betrayal” at “unbelievable reports” that Yad Vashem might again be lending legitimacy to the Lithuanian government sponsored “red-brown commission.” These accounts derive from a BNS (Baltic News Service) report today that appeared in various Lithuanian media, including Alfa.lt (full translation below), reporting that the president herself signed the decree today for substantial new state investment in the commission.
The Vilnius and Jerusalem rumor mills are equally putting out the word that there had been pressure from the Israeli foreign ministry, itself pressured by the Lithuanian foreign ministry for Holocaust-revising gestures in line with the current Baltic state policy often referred to as “Double Genocide.”
UPDATES: 29 Aug 2012; 31 Aug; 31 Aug(b); 31 Aug(c); 3 Sept; 3 Sept(b) [Holocaust survivors’ statement]; 3 Sept(c) [Survivors’ letter to head of Yad Vashem]; 3 Sept(d) [in English translation].
UPDATE 1: On 27 June 2011 at 3:31 PM (Vilnius time), the Israeli Embassy in Riga (responsible for Lithuania as well as Latvia) emailed DefendingHistory.com to say that Yad Vashem’s participation in the event has been cancelled. This was confirmed in a further email from Yad Vashem at 3:56 PM. In Vilnius, however, the name of Yad Vashem and its designated representative continue to appear on programs and brochures, giving the impression that the event enjoys the formal participation of Yad Vashem. See our public query to Yad Vashem.
UPDATE 2: See Defending History’s eyewitness reports of Day 1 and Day 2 of the conference.
According to a conference program posted on the website of the Lithuanian Parliament, Yad Vashem is the only Jewish institution sending a representative to the latest conference mounted by the Lithuanian government in its campaign to downgrade the Holocaust and whitewash the Lithuanian Holocaust’s first murderers (the L.A.F. and other fascist groups), often by glorifying them as ‘freedom fighters’. The printed brochure for the conference, to be held on 29 and 30 June 2011, announces the event as a joint project of the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) and the deeply antisemitic Genocide Research Center. One of the Center’s top ‘specialists’ participated in the recent neo-Nazi parade and went on to launch a public antisemitic campaign. He was neither removed from his post nor publicly reprimanded, as the season’s conferences plow ahead full steam.