News and Views on a ‘Levinas Center’ in Kaunas that May Serve PR Interests of Deflecting from City’s Shrines to its Holocaust Perpetrators



Tracking media coverage.

Composer and pianist Michael Levinas, the son (and heir and exclusive legal holder of the moral rights to his father’s works) of French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, has publicly protested Lithuania’s naming an institute in Kaunas for his father. See his op-ed in Le Figaro (21 Dec. 2021) [in English]) and his interview in Actualité Juive (13 Jan. 2022) [in English]). Initial coverage by JTA (19 Jan.) does not mention Michael Levinas’s protest, but unusually, the protest has been covered in some detail by Lithuanian mainstream media’s (9 Jan., updated 17 Jan. 2022) which reported on the refusal of the French Embassy in Vilnius to send any representation to the center’s opening ceremony in Dec. 2021. A report also appeared on the website of the official Lithuanian Jewish Community (10 Jan.). However, a second local Kaunas community posting on 12 Jan. was alone cited by the European Jewish Congress website  as an uncontroversial news item.

“Question on everybody’s mind”:

Will the Levinas Center leaders, staff, sponsors and visitors politely ask, with dignity, that the city of Kaunas now, in its year as “Capital of European Culture” rapidly remove state-sponsored shrines to the local murderers of Levinas’s family and the other 30,000 Jewish citizens of Kaunas? Or will the Levinas Center become one of the “Useful Jewish Idiot (UJI) addresses” that are used to cover for current Kaunas policies of glorification of Nazi perpetrators, while providing handsome photo-ops, lavish hospitality and generous amenities to visiting foreign Jewish dignitaries who maintain studious silence on current policies of honoring Holocaust collaborators in the public space (in some cases, a very short walk from the new “Levinas Center”).

Levinas for veterinarians?

The philosophy community is taken aback: Why such a new entity, howsoever named, was not deemed suitable at, for example, Vilnius University’s prestigious Faculty of Philosophy, just the “Health Sciences” unit (Medical School & Veterinary Univ.) in Kaunas, during the period of the Ramanauskas Year (2018), the Lukša Year (2021), & Kaunas Capital of European Culture year (2022), all of which have served to glorify Kaunas’s Holocaust enablers. Some Levinas scholars internationally see in recent events a “series of multilayered intellectual humiliations”…

Public shrines to Holocaust collaborators in Kaunas

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