anti-Semitism

Gumuliauskas and the Historical Plan for the Love of Lithuania

Gumuliauskas and the Historical Plan for the Love of Lithuania

by Arkadijus Vinokuras

I read the ramblings of MP professor Arūnas Gumuliauskas, the title of which should have been “How I Love Lithuania Tortured by Her Enemies.” He writes like a professor. I say “like” because there is doubt on the quality of the text itself. Because his entire long text could be expressed in a single sentence: “Everyone who thinks otherwise is an enemy and an agent of the Kremlin.” Back in Soviet times a CP member would have written it like this” “Everyone who thinks otherwise is an enemy and an agent of Washington.”

The generalized “all” dominates in the text, probably stemming from the elementary fear of naming specific liars and agents. Because it might turn out some of these unnamed critics aren’t lying. And they aren’t any kind of agent. Hence the author would be dressed down naked in court for libel. The professor had a good command of this sort of jargon back in Soviet times, in 1987 when he defended his doctoral thesis “Activities of the Lithuanian Communist Party in Developing the Theater Arts in the Republic.” That was the same year the Lithuanian Freedom League held a meeting under the Adam Mickiewicz statue in Vilnius. Forgive me, I’m not trying to joke around, but it is seriously difficult to impossible to think about Gumuliauskas as some sort of sincere nationalist. But this is not surprising, he is, after all, a member of a party which doesn’t confess any ideology, not even basic political morality.

So sometimes the Lithuanian Peasants/Green Union pretend they’re on the left, sometimes on the right, but its members agree on one thing at least: democracy is just stage decoration which can be toyed with as one likes. So it’s also no surprise that the search for and discovery of enemies lurking around every corner is programmed into this part. Gumuliaksuas is no exception.

Ponar Calls on Us to Remember

Ponar Calls on Us to Remember

I thank all of you who walked with the Lithuanian Jewish Community today along the route taken by 70,000 men, women and children 77 years ago.

While the bodies of the victims of Ponar, reduced to ashes, will not rise again, no attempts to burn the pages of history will liberate our fellow citizens from the guilt dwelling in the subconscious over the murder of the Jews, nor will it relieve the suffering of the experience of the Holocaust even of the generation which came after.

No actions will return the lives of the more than 200,000 people of Lithuania lost during the Holocaust while words, whether in Lithuanian or Yiddish, will only briefly return a glimmer of the crown of the Jerusalem of Lithuania.

The memory of the Holocaust, however, isn’t just filled with shame for one side and pain for another. Its memory awakens our conscience and our duty to the future: to remember and honor the dead, thus imparting some sense to the victims of senseless hatred, lessons written in innocent blood for humanity. As long as we’re alive we must insure through joint effort, testifying to the memory of the Holocaust victims, the tragedy of Ponar never recurs, and that it doesn’t become the object of new and error-filled forms of hatred.

As we recall the events of that era of pain, it’s just as important to remember those giants of the spirit. I don’t know how many times now here in Ponar I’ve talked about Liba Mednikienė, a heroine of Lithuania’s battles for freedom. Finally now, during the Year of the Vilna Gaon and the Year of Litvak History, a monument to her memory, to this Lithuanian patriot murdered at the hands of Lithuanians, has found a home in the town of her youth, Širvintos.

Today hope is reborn, listening to the words of the president and prime minister and watching the soldiers pay tribute to Lithuania’s Jewish victims of genocide, hope that our society and out state have matured, have reached a new stage in the dialogue between Jews and Lithuanians, devoted wholly to learning and recognizing historical justice. We have an history inherited and shared from the time of Vytautas the Great, and so I believe commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust and being an indivisible part of it will become, eventually, not a matter of just marking an event or opportunity, but an issue of civic dignity and our view of the world.

Thanks to all of you for being here today with us, the small Lithuanian Jewish Community, for blazing a path in remembering those who were innocent and were sentenced to death.

Faina Kukliansky
September 23, 2020
Ponar, Lithuania

Book Presentation

A presentation of Rūta Vanagaitė’s book “Kaip tai įvyko? Christoph DIeckmann atsako Rūtai Vanagaitei” [How Did It Happen? Rūta Vanagaitė Interviews Christoph Dieckmann] and a panel discussion will be held at 6:00 P.M. on August 15 at the Adomas Mickevičius Public Library at Trakų street no. 10 in Vilnius. Speakers and panelists will include Rūta Vanagaitė, Lithuanian History Institute director Alvydas Nikžentaits, Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky, professors Irena Veisaitė and Tomas Venclova, and by video Christoph Dieckmann and Saulius Sužiedelis, moderated by Aurimas Švedas. The event is being held by the Adomas Mickevičius Public Library and the Vilnius Jewish Public Library in cooperation with the LJC.

Registration is required, spaces are limited and visitors will be required to wear surgical masks. To register, send an email to info@vilnius-jewish-public-library.com or call (8-5) 219 77 48 work days between 11:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M.

Vice-President Schinas Delivers Keynote Speech at DE Presidency Online Conference on Anti-Semitism

Dear friends,

Please find below the link to vice-president Margaritis Schinas’s keynote speech delivered this morning at the DE Presidency online conference on “Working Together to Fight Anti-Semitism in Europe: Structures and Strategies for a Holistic Approach.”

https://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/just/item-detail.cfm?item_id=50144

At the conference today, I will be addressing the Panel on “Strategies and Structures for a Holistic Approach to fighting Anti-Semitism” and share concluding remarks and thoughts for the future.

I will highlight the various approaches and strategies to be developed following the Council declaration and our ongoing support to member states to better prevent and combat anti-Semitism at the national level in a holistic way. This includes dealing with the use of the IHRA definition, reporting and data collection, security issues, education and cooperation among government bodies and between government and civil-society organizations.

Sincerely,

Katharina

Katharina von Schnurbein
European Commission Coordinator on Combating Anti-Semitism and Fostering Jewish Life

Let’s Remove the “Nazi Chain” around Lithuania’s Neck

Let’s Remove the “Nazi Chain” around Lithuania’s Neck

by Arūnas Gumuliauskas, chairman, Lithuanian parliamentary Commission on the Battles for Freedom and State Historical Memory

Every year there are echoes throughout Lithuania on disputes regarding judgments of partisans and other freedom fighters. Different organizations, circles of intellectuals and ethnic minority representatives file complaints and express dismay over the fact Lithuania honors her heroes who laid down their lives for the ideal of independence. Sometimes more loudly, sometimes more quietly.

So this summer as well a wave of discontent and slander went out regarding the announcement of a year to commemorate the noble partisan Juozas Lukša-Daumantas. It’s frequently difficult to understand why this is happening. Many of us also fail to understand, it seems, because it’s not the most important issue with that story.

But, like it or not, a person can’t just be satiated. He must respect himself and be respected by others. That applies even more so to the state. That’s why our history is rewritten and always in a way intending to desecrate those who contributed to history, and you must begin to listen. Very rarely does something happen coincidentally in politics. So after a decade of the constant attempt to convince Lithuania she is a country of fighters stained with blood and of Jew-shooters, one has to understand the reasons for this and oppose it appropriately.

Who Is That Gaon?

Who Is That Gaon?

by Sergejus Kanovičius. Photo by Evgenia Levin/Bernardinai.lt

Soon the Year of the Vilna Gaon will end: the news websites will stop carrying out the internet education plans dedicated to Jewish history and the school curricula will remain as they always were: impoverished, and with the suppression of history. Everything will depend on the teacher’s initiative, again. The statues to the Gaon and Tsemakh Shabad will stare out, with acid poured over them. Plaques will hang commemorating the “desk murderer” in Vilnius and the statue to a murderer of Jews will continue to stand in the center of Ukmergė, and schools will continue to be named in their honor. The center tasked with researching genocide will offer jobs to people who think the “Lithuanian Activist Front would have found it easy to agree with Zionists.” Only suppressing the fact the LAF helped those Zionists travel into the bosom of Abraham.

Virtual internet reality will never coincide with true reality, and the proposition of living in two worlds will continue to be proposed. The official one will soon mourn at Paneriai and on Rūdninkai square because that’s what’s required. Actually, the pandemic in the true sense of the word helped save a pile of money which would have been used for those pompous but failed events. I would ask, couldn’t the money saved be used to change the school curricula so that a student who reads a headline or title “The Vilna Gaon…” doesn’t have to search the internet to find out who he was and why he’s important?

The best surrogate education–sampling Jewish foods–takes place via the stomach, and via internet. In both cases the effect of learning is equal to the time spent by the learner chewing a bagel or reading about some shtetl lost to oblivion, sipping coffee while reading the screen. There’s no need to even raise the question of enduring value or the long-term effect…

Fun Celebration of European Day of Jewish Culture for 2020

Fun Celebration of European Day of Jewish Culture for 2020

On Sunday, September 6, 2020, the Lithuanian Jewish Community held a fun celebration of the European Day of Jewish Culture. Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky and Community members, the Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Yosi Levy, Lithuanian Cultural Heritage Department director Vidmantas Bezaras and guests had a good time and attended the Hebrew language lesson provided by Vilnius Sholem Aleichem ORT Gymansium principal Ruth Reches. The public, invited by the LJC, came to celebrate the first Sunday in September by sampling Jewish treats made at the Bagel Shop Café, located on the first floor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community building in Vilnius, a center of Litvak bagel culture.

The Bagel Shop Café presented paintings from Mark Kaplan’s collection during the event.

Participants also attended the lecture “Deification and Demonization of Jews: Anti-Semitic Superstitions in Society.”

You Are Invited to the European Days of Jewish Culture in Vilnius

You Are Invited to the European Days of Jewish Culture in Vilnius

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is continuing the tradition of marking the annual event European Days of Jewish Culture, this time for the fifth year, with a program of events in Vilnius scheduled for Sunday, September 6, 2020.

All parts of the event program are free and open to the public. The number of participants has been limited this year due to health concerns so please register as soon as possible.

For cooking lessons, register by sending an email to kavine@lzb.lt
For the Jerulita tour, register by sending an email to travel@jerulita.lt

To register by internet, click here.

AJC Tells Lithuanian Government: This Hypocrisy Must End

AJC Tells Lithuanian Government: This Hypocrisy Must End

by Vytautas Bruveris

Back to the drawing board: Lithuania again has become the target of a wave of international criticism because of the country’s relationship with the Holocaust. This time, because of the appointment of publicist and public activist Vidmantas Valiušaitis to the leadership of the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania [Genocide Center].

The country’s Jewish community as well as an influential international organization, the American Jewish Committee (AJC), reacted sharply to this announcement. Leaders at the AJC even called the Lithuanian Government’s actions in the area of Litvak history and Holocaust commemoration hypocritical.

At the same time the Genocide Center is getting an ever darker reputation in the international area, that of an ideological right-wing nationalist bunker rather than an authoritative and academically objective institution.

Valiušaitis’s Appointment Worries Historians and Jewish Community

Valiušaitis’s Appointment Worries Historians and Jewish Community

Photo: honoring victims of Soviet-era occupation, genocide and repression. Photo courtesy J. Stacevičius/LRT.

by Modesta Gaučaitė, LRT.lt

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and historians are raising questions about Vidmantas Valiušaitis’s new appointment as an advisor at the Center for the Study of the Resistance and Genocide of Residents of Lithuania [Genocide Center]. Valiušaitis says he won’t try to vindicate himself because he says his work speaks for itself.

New Genocide Center director Adas Jakubauskas took over two months ago and began assembling his team. Besides a deputy director, Jakubauskas also appointed two advisors, one them being Vidmantas Valiušaitis, a long-time journalist, publicist, author of books, for several years the director of the Laisvoji Banga radio station and who in 2017 began working as a methodologist and researcher at the Documentary Heritage Research Department of the Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas Library.

His new appointment has caused dissatisfaction on the part of the Lithuanian Jewish Community and has raised questions for historians.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Concerned by Vidmantas Valiušaitis’s Appointment as Senior Advisor of Genocide Center

Lithuanian Jewish Community Concerned by Vidmantas Valiušaitis’s Appointment as Senior Advisor of Genocide Center

According to the official website of the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuanian (Genocide Center), the person occupying the post of senior advisor to the general director of the Genocide Center performs the following functions:

“…provides consultation on the physical and spiritual genocide of residents of Lithuania carried out by the occupational regimes between 1939 and 1990 as well as resistance to these regimes, and issues surrounding the processes of resistance to and the policies carried out by the occupational regime in the Vilnius district between 1920 and 1938, and consults on issues involving the direction of the Genocide Center’s research and programs regarding the genocide of residents of Lithuania and their resistance to the occupational regimes from 1939 to 1990” (source: http://genocid.lt/UserFiles/File/Pareiginiai/Direkcija/Vidmantas_Valiusaitis.pdf).

We would like to point out that in several recent publications Vidmantas Valiušaitis intentionally distorted the facts and publicized these falsehoods concerning the anti-Semitic activities of the Lithuanian Activist Front and the Lithuanian Provisional Government of 1941. Moreover, Vidmantas Valiušaitis basically denied the conclusions arrived at by the International Commission for Assessing the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Regimes in Lithuania regarding the clearly anti-Semitic views and actions of these organizations and their leadership directed against the Jews of Lithuania.

Tomas Venclova: Conscience is Greater Than Independence

Tomas Venclova: Conscience is Greater Than Independence

by Gabija Strumylaitė, 15min.lt

After spending forty years in exile, the professor returned to Vilnius in 2018; here he actively participates in Lithuanian cultural life and courageously expresses his opinion on topics important to the country and the world. The website 15min.lt spoke with Tomas Venclova about the meaning of independence, principles of liberalism, historical memory, ethnic minorities and other issues.

This year has also been named the Year of the Vilna Gaon and of Litvak History. What do you think, do Lithuanians understand and appreciate sufficiently the Jewish legacy? What should we be doing to honor these people? Do we need, for example, to rebuild the Great Synagogue, or establish a modern museum of Jewish history?

In this regard I think we are doing better compared to the situation over ten years ago, never mind earlier periods. I’m not just thinking about Jewish affairs, but those of other ethnic minorities as well: Poles, Russians, Belarussians, Karaïtes, Tartars.

There is a large amount of latent distrust of minorities in Lithuania overall. I will mention another minority about which there has been a lot of concern lately: the Roma. The great majority of the Lithuanian public are prejudiced against them, and this is senseless and unnecessary, and needs to be corrected.

Lauder on Leadership: You Have to Stand Up and Fight Every Single Day

Lauder on Leadership: You Have to Stand Up and Fight Every Single Day

If ever there were a Jewish leader who puts his money where his mouth is, it is Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress and arguably the de facto leader of the Jewish world.

Thanks to him, thousands upon thousands of Jewish children in central and eastern Europe have received an education; the fight against continued and renewed antisemitism remains front and centre of the Jewish world’s priorities; enormous amounts of art, once looted by the Nazis, have been returned to many heirs of Jewish victims of the Holocaust; and funding has been put in place for both maintenance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, and the proposed memorial to the dead at Babi Yar, the site of the notorious 1941 massacre of almost 34,000 Jews in Ukraine.

And yet, as Lauder, in his trademark New York growl, tells it, it could all have been so different. “What would have happened to me,” he wonders, “if I had not gone to Vienna?”

Full interview here.

Dutch Government Halts Funds to Terror-Linked NGO

Dutch Government Halts Funds to Terror-Linked NGO

As a direct result of NGO Monitor research, the Dutch government froze €8 million in funding over three years to the Palestinian NGO Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Development announced an external investigation into UAWC’s ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a group responsible for terror attacks since the 1960s.

Our research shows that since 2013, UAWC has received nearly $20 million from the Netherlands. During the past year, NGO Monitor researched and published its findings in a detailed report, briefed officials, and wrote a number of open letters to Dutch officials on this issue. The evidence we provided led to a number of parliamentary questions that triggered the announcement. This follows significant developments with the EU, including BADIL’s refusal to sign an EU contract with an anti-terror clause.

NGO Monitor welcomes the Dutch decision and urges officials to implement strict guidelines to prevent future misuse of public money. NGO Monitor, in partnership with groups such as UKLFI and CIDI, will continue to hold governments accountable for their NGO funding.

Read our research cited in the Jerusalem Post.

WJC Applauds Facebook Banning M’Bala for Anti-Semitism

WJC Applauds Facebook Banning M’Bala for Anti-Semitism

NEW YORK–The World Jewish Congress (WJC) welcomes Facebook’s decision to ban Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, a French extreme political activist notorious for spreading anti-Semitic hate speech, Holocaust denial and violent ideology. Facebook informed the WJC of its decision to ban Dieudonné from Facebook and Instagram. Dieudonné has been condemned by French courts on several occasions and again recently for negationist and ant-Semitic statements. Previously YouTube removed a channel linked to Dieudonné.

WJC president Ronald S. Lauder said, “The World Jewish Congress has been on the forefront of urging social media platforms to exercise their authority to block those who disseminate anti-Semitic hate, including Dieudonné. Dieudonné has been using social media to do harm for far too long. Freedom of expression by no means gives anyone the right to incite hatred and anti-Semitism, online or anywhere else.

“While we welcome Facebook’s actions, Dieudonné is just one notorious case among many others. Countless others continue to spread hate and antisemitism on social media platforms. The World Jewish Congress urges Facebook and other platforms to prioritize banning those who spew dangerous anti-Semitic rhetoric. Our safety and future is dependent upon social media companies taking this hate seriously.”

###

About the World Jewish Congress

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.

Vilna Gaon Statue Vandalized Again

Vilna Gaon Statue Vandalized Again

For the second time in two months, the stone statue commemorating the Vilna Gaon located at what is thought to have been his residence in Vilnius was vandalized by application of an unknown liquid.

Police reported they received a report of the newest act of vandalism at 5:20 P.M. local time on Sunday. Vilnius district police department representative Julija Samorokovskaja told Baltic News Service a tourist guide reported an unknown liquid, possibly some acid, had been poured over the monument.

“A report was received that sometime during a two-day time period acid possibly had been poured on the Vilna Gaon statue. A tourist guide made the report,” she said. She also said an criminal investigation had been launched for incitement to hatred, and that the physical damage done would be calculated more accurately later.

WJC Commemorates European Holocaust Remembrance Day

WJC Commemorates European Holocaust Remembrance Day

Press Release
July 31, 2020

In Memory of the 500,000 Sinti and Roma Killed in the Holocaust, World Jewish Congress Commemorates European Holocaust Remembrance Day

NEW YORK–The world is remembering the 500,000 Sinti and Roma murdered in Nazi-occupied Europe, in advance of August 2, which marks the tragic anniversary of the liquidation of the Zigeunerlager (“Gypsy camp”) at the former concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. On that day in 1944, the last 4,300 Sinti and Roma, despite their fierce resistance, were forced into the gas chambers by the SS, where they were murdered.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) joins the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, the Association of Roma in Poland, and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in observing European Holocaust Remembrance Day for Sinti and Roma on August 2. A short WJC video further explains the horrific history of the Romani Holocaust.

Group of Vilnius Jewish Community Members Tell National Leaders: This Isn’t the First Time Kukliansky Is Acting Like This

Group of Vilnius Jewish Community Members Tell National Leaders: This Isn’t the First Time Kukliansky Is Acting Like This

Photo: © 2020 DELFI/Šarūnas Mažeika

After questions by Goodwill Foundation chairpeople Faina Kukliansky and rabbi Andrew Baker on the decision by the Lithuanian parliament to name the year 2021 as the Year of Juozas Lukša-Daumantas, four members of the Vilnius Jewish Community have sent a letter to president Gitanas Nausėda, the parliament, the Government and Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevičius.

Chona Leibovičius, Vitalijus Karakorskis, Dovydas Bluvšteinas and Leo Levas Milneris called on the president to review the composition of Lithuania’s International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania.

These members of the Jewish community called on the parliament and Government to find a way to halt temporarily the financing of the Goodwill Foundation until its leadership is replaced.