anti-Semitism

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.”

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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.

Faina Kukliansky: We Need to Take a Chill-Pill When Discussing Lithuanian Partisans

Faina Kukliansky: We Need to Take a Chill-Pill When Discussing Lithuanian Partisans

Elections are a time when made-up pseudo-patriotic stories eclipse important social problems. By distorting, for example, my joint letter with American Jewish Committee representative Rabbi Andrew Baker on the Lithuanian parliament’s decision to name next year after the partisan Juozas Lukša-Daumantas. In order to avoid any “indirect” doubts, on July 18 I emphasized on LNK television that “We have no complaints on Juozas Lukša-Daumantas’s past.”

What does worry us is that the fascist anti-Semitic Lithuanian Activist Front might be honored along with him. The LAF formed the Tautos darbo apsaugos batalionas, or TDA, which was responsible for the mass murder of thousands of Jews at the Seventh Fort in Kaunas and elsewhere. The website of the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania states: “during the first Soviet occupation in 1940 and 1941, Juozas Lukša-Daumantas belonged to the Lithuanian Activist Front. For this he was arrested and imprisoned at the Kaunas hard labor prison. On June 22, 1941, when the war between the USSR and Germany began, he escaped.”

I am being accused of “indirectly” belittling Juozas Lukša-Daumantas. I remember the time when people were sent to mental hospitals and prison for indirectly criticizing the Communist regime. Maybe someone would like to lock me up now and give me some re-education on what can and cannot be said. But that’s not the main thing. The main thing is that my words about the LAF have been applied to the entire partisan movement and equated with it, even though that’s like accusing all of Lithuania of anti-Semitism because of the statements of one or another irresponsible radical.

Claims Conference Holocaust Denial Campaign Launching This Week

Claims Conference Holocaust Denial Campaign Launching This Week

Dear Presidents,
Dear Friends,

We hope this email finds you and your close ones well and healthy.

Tomorrow, July 29, a grass-roots campaign will be launched by The Claims Conference to urge Facebook to remove Holocaust denial from its platform.

Holocaust survivors are putting much effort in order to make Facebook classify Holocaust denial as hate speech and remove it. Claims Conference has been working with survivors globally who are now recording messages to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. These messages will be posted daily on Claims Conference social media.

Despite the meeting between Mark Zuckerberg and civil rights organizations (including ADL and NAACP), Facebook has refused to classify Holocaust denial as hate speech.

Therefore, we would like to ask you (and your affiliated organizations) to take a moment to promote this campaign on your social platform. It is our duty to help giving Holocaust survivors this missing, while so deeply needed voice.

Each day from July 29th, a recorded message from Holocaust survivors to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be posted on Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook) and other social media platforms such as Twitter.

The first video will be posted at 1PM (CET).

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ClaimsConference/
Twitter: @ClaimsCon
Instagram: @claims_conference

Information can also be found at the Claims Conference website on July 29 at: www.claimscon.org.

EJC is fully supporting this campaign and we encourage you to share these video messages using the hashtag: #NoDenyingIt.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for any further information you may require.

Best regards,
The EJC Team

tel. +32 25408159 fax +32 25408169
www.eurojewcong.org @eurojewcong

Public Still Knows Little about 2021 as Year of  Lukša-Daumantas

Public Still Knows Little about 2021 as Year of Lukša-Daumantas

The Lithuanian parliament’s draft resolution naming 2021 the Year of Juozas Lukša-Daumantas is largely unknown to the public, as is the man Juozas Lukša-Daumantas. The Lithuanian parliament has made a tradition out of naming years after people and events, but this time it isn’t clear what is being celebrated, and perhaps only Lithuanian MPs know the answer.

So far we only have official explanations on the Lithuanian Activist Front and Juozas Lukša-Daumantas’s membership in this organization, including on the official website of Lithuania’s Orwellian Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania, where Juozas Lukša-Daumantas is listed as an LAF member.

We are presenting additional information from Chaim Bargman, amateur historian and tourist guide from Kaunas, to try to elucidate the nature of the historical figure. We would very much welcome additional information from scholars and academic works.

IHRA Statement on Rehabilitation

IHRA Statement on Rehabilitation

Adopted at the 2020 IHRA Berlin Plenary during the German Presidency

The IHRA condemns all attempts to rehabilitate the reputations of persons who were complicit in the crimes of the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma.

Therefore, in light of rising anti-Semitism and Holocaust distortion, the IHRA is resolved to address the phenomenon of rehabilitation in member countries and across the organization. In the spirit of its 2020 Ministerial Declaration, the IHRA encourages “all countries and societies to address their respective pasts by dealing openly and accurately with the historical record.” Therefore, it is imperative for the IHRA to promote research, public awareness, and political responsibility around the issue of rehabilitation.

The countries affected by the Holocaust have long wrestled with the challenges of confronting the past and with thorny questions surrounding complicity for the crimes planned and carried out by Nazi Germany and those fascist and extreme nationalist partners and other collaborators who participated in these crimes.

These developments are not unique to any single country or historical experience, and they appear in IHRA member countries and beyond, including in those lands not directly affected by the Holocaust. Countries must engage with their national histories as they pertain to the Holocaust, as well as with the histories of those individuals who were complicit in its crimes.

Failure to remember truthfully demeans the living and disrespects the dead.

Down the Memory Hole: Orwellian Genocide Center Contradicts Itself Again

Down the Memory Hole: Orwellian Genocide Center Contradicts Itself Again

A week ago the Lithuanian news channel Info TV aired a program featuring a discussion between Mission to Siberia television program participant and Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania historian Mingailė Jurgaitė, and Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky. They discussed the decision by the Lithuanian parliament to declare 2021 the year of Juozas Lukša-Daumantas, who was a member of the Lithuanian Activist Front in 1940 and 1941. The LAF was a pro-Nazi underground militia responsible for most of the atrocities against Lithuanian Jews in the early months of the German occupation in the summer of 1941, when the LAF declared an independent national government with Kaunas as its capital, the so-called Provisional Government.

LAF propaganda took aim mainly at Jews. In Kaunas in 1941 the LAF kidnapped several thousand Lithuanian Jews and their Provisional Government issued orders they be held at a concentration camp to be located at the Seventh Fort in Kaunas.

WJC Welcomes IHRA Members’ Strong Condemnation of Rehabilitation of Nazi Collaborators

WJC Welcomes IHRA Members’ Strong Condemnation of Rehabilitation of Nazi Collaborators

July 7, 2020, NEW YORK–Today the 35 member and liaison countries of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) issued a statement condemning “all attempts to rehabilitate the reputations of persons who were complicit in the crimes of the Holocaust and the genocide of the Roma.” The statement conveys the IHRA’s resolve to address the phenomenon within IHRA members.

World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder welcomed the move, adopted at the 2020 IHRA Berlin Plenary, as a clear sign of a commitment to oppose and isolate such efforts. He said, “Historical truth and accuracy need to be safeguarded for the sake of future generations. Any efforts to distort or deny the true facts of the Holocaust, including the rehabilitation or even glorification of Nazi collaborators, are extremely dangerous as they open the way to all kinds of racist and xenophobic movements.”

Lauder warned that “all societies need to remain vigilant, educate the population about the true facts of history and strongly condemn any efforts to challenge the historical record.”

The World Jewish Congress has long focused on advocating against the phenomenon of rehabilitation and glorification of Nazi collaborators, a widespread issue, particularly in post-Communist countries.

Lauder added, “Efforts to create false national narratives lead to a whitewash of countries’ histories during the Second World War. This rewriting of history, where the people of respective countries are represented as victims and heroes and never villains, can become fertile ground for blind nationalism, racism, anti-Semitism, neo-Naziism and xenophobia.”

European Jewish Congress President Calls on Portuguese Parliament Not to Harm Sephardi Citizenship Law

European Jewish Congress President Calls on Portuguese Parliament Not to Harm Sephardi Citizenship Law

Thursday, July 2, 2020–European Jewish Congress president Dr. Moshe Kantor has written to Portugal’s president of the Assembly of the Republic Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues calling on him to insure that a law passed in 2013 which provides Sephardi Jews with the possibility to apply for Portuguese citizenship is not harmed by recent attempts to pass amendments which would damage the applicability, intention and spirit of the original law.

“I urge you to amend the administrative flaws in the implementation of this historic law without losing sight of, or endangering, what is essential: the opening of a real, achievable path to citizenship of the Portuguese Republic to the descendants of persecuted Portuguese Sephardic Jews,” Dr. Kantor wrote. “This act of tolerance and reconciliation is as relevant, symbolic and inspiring to other nations as it was when it was approved five years ago.”

In recent years there has been a discernible increase in the number of applications by Sephardi Jews for Portuguese citizenship, and some parliament members have sought ways to stem the numbers, including proposing that applicants must reside in Portugal or have a “effective connection” to the Iberian nation.

Lietūkis Garage Massacre Commemorated June 26

Lietūkis Garage Massacre Commemorated June 26

The Kaunas Jewish Community and members of the public gathered in Kaunas June 26 at the site of the infamous Lietūkis garage massacre of Jews by Lithuanians in the early days of the Holocaust in the last days of June of 1941. Relatives of victims attended as well. The ceremony was followed by kaddish for the Jews buried at the Slobodka (Vilijampolė) and Žaliakalnis Jewish cemeteries in Kaunas.

Renowned German Historian Christoph Dieckmann Says Lithuanian Heroes Noreika, Škirpa Were Both Fascists

Renowned German Historian Christoph Dieckmann Says Lithuanian Heroes Noreika, Škirpa Were Both Fascists

by prof. Pinchos Fridberg

Vilnius

At 5:30 A.M. yesterday, July 2, 2020, the Lithuanian Public Radio and Television (LRT) web page posted an interview with noted German historian Christoph Dieckmann:

Vokiečių istorikas apie Holokaustą Lietuvoje: žydus priversdavo šokti, dainuoti, o tada sušaudydavo” [German Historian on Holocaust in Lithuania: Jews Were Forced to Sing, Dance, Then Were Shot]

The point of my text here is to point the reader’s attention to the phrase “Both of them were fascists.” To avoid mistakes, here is that portion of the interview which I captured:

Translation:

In the book you wrote the majority collaborated with the Nazis seeking to serve their country and led by a certain vision of the future of their country, usually a fascist one, to create an ethnically pure, militarily strong nation state. So didn’t Kazys Škirpa and Jonas Noreika also believe they were serving their country?

Both of them were fascists. Noreika became one while very young, Škirpa at a bit later age. Škirpa had a fascist vision of Lithuania, a Lithuania without Jews. He spoke out in favor of driving the Jews out rather than murdering them. Noreika held similar views, he saw a Lithuania without Jews because he believed they were powerful and hindered the creation of statehood. …]

P.S. The same day at 9:57 A.M. the LRT internet site posted an abbreviated translation of the interview in Russian.

It’s interesting to note that this passage was omitted in the Russian version.

Co-Chairs of Goodwill Foundation Send Letter to Parliamentary Speaker on Naming 2021 Year of Lukša-Daumantas

Co-Chairs of Goodwill Foundation Send Letter to Parliamentary Speaker on Naming 2021 Year of Lukša-Daumantas

July 2, 2020

His Excellency Viktoras Pranckietis
Speaker of the Seimas
Vilnius, Lithuania

Dear Speaker Pranckietis,

We are deeply troubled to learn that the Seimas will entertain a resolution which would dedicate 2021 the Year of Juozas Lukša-Daumantas, a leader of the World War II-era Lithuanian Activist Front.

The Lithuanian Activist Front was founded in Berlin and was an early ally of the Nazis in the occupation of Lithuania. It was proudly anti-Semitic, and many of its members were directly involved in the persecution and murder of Lithuanian Jews. Despite its anti-Soviet focus and later conflict with the Nazi powers, its vision of an independent Lithuania was of an ethnically “pure” homeland with no place for Jewish citizens.

Some may question if there is sufficient documentary evidence to show that Lukša-Daumantas was guilty of war crimes. That is not relevant to the decision before the Seimas. There is today a worldwide reckoning with history and growing recognition in all Western democracies that even past leaders of great accomplishment must forfeit any honor if they were also racists, bigots, or anti-Semites. Surely Lithuania should do no less.

With that in mind we implore you to take no action which might give honor to any leader of the Lithuanian Activist Front. Instead you should defer such matters to the International Commission for Evaluating the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes appointed by the Lithuanian president for a clear and critical understanding of this tragic period in the country’s history.

As co-chairpersons of the Lithuanian Goodwill Foundation, we have valued the warm cooperative relationship we have had with you since your first days as Speaker. We know we share a common commitment to maintain the legacy and history of Jewish life in Lithuania and to build an inclusive and tolerant future. It is in this spirit that we write to you.

With sincere regards,

Faina Kukliansky, Chairwoman, Lithuanian Jewish Community; Co-Chairperson, Goodwill Foundation

Rabbi Andrew Baker, AJC Director of International Jewish Affairs; Co-Chairperson, Goodwill Foundation

Lithuanian Jewish Community Requests Information on Neo-Nazi Terrorist Act in Vilnius

Lithuanian Jewish Community Requests Information on Neo-Nazi Terrorist Act in Vilnius

June 29, 2020

To:
Israeli embassy to Lithuania
info@vilnius.mfa.gov.il

US embassy to Lithuania
WebEmailVilnius@state.gov

Lithuanian Foreign Ministry
urm@urm.lt

Last week Lithuania media reported an act of terrorism planned in Lithuania in 2019 and the arrest of a suspect in this case who allegedly belongs to the ultra-right extremist organization Feuerkrieg Division. The male suspect, born in 1999, left a homemade bomb at a building on Balčikonio street in Vilnius next to the Technopolis building and spray-painted the name of his organization and a swastika at the same location.

According to the news website 15min.lt, this extremist group targets Jews, Muslims, homosexuals, religious leaders and police.

The incident was only reported last week in mid-June of 2020 although the crime was allegedly committed in October of 2019.

For that reason the Lithuanian Jewish Community is requesting information from you on whether your institutions were informed last year about the attempted terrorist act and/or about the arrest of this person who belonged to a radical group.

The LJC is concerned the Community received no information about this, no one contacted us, and the police took no measures to insure security. While many Jewish communities in a number of European countries enjoy protection provided for by the state, the LJC in Lithuania has for many years now provided and paid for our own security at headquarters and the synagogue in Vilnius. In situations such as this one, the LJC believes the police and Lithuania’s State Security Department should contact LJC leaders and inform them of such events, all the more so since this ultra-right group targets Jews specifically.

Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman
Lithuanian Jewish Community