Israel's Knesset Voices Opposition to Desecration of Jewish Cemetery
Israel’s MKs express strong views on Antisemitism and on protecting the Shnipishok cemetery in Lithuanian from desecration.
JERUSALEM - On the eve of Israel’s elections, Members of the Knesset expressed their commitment to oppose the planned development of a conference center on a Jewish cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Many of the members of the Knesset are children of Holocaust survivors. Antisemitism and the threat of desecration to the Shnipshok cemetery in which between 50-70 thousand Jews were laid to rest, is therefore of particular significance.
In what many believe is a step towards nixing the plan for the conference center in its entirety, in December 2020 the Lithuanian government removed the 2021 budget allocation towards expenditure for the proposed conference center.
The plan was initially inked by Turto bankas and the Vilnius City Council. The Turto bankas has developed a reputation for supporting and backing Antisemitic causes. International Jewish organizations have rallied to express their opposition to the development, which violates Jewish law, culture and an international Human Rights code of protecting graves.
The Shnipishok cemetery is of significant importance as it was the initial burial ground of the Vilna Gaon. Other famous Jewish scholars have also been laid to rest on the property including, the Rabbi Avraham Danzig, Rabbi Moshe Rivkes (Beor HaGaola), Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Pesseles, (a relative of the Gaon, whose grandfather, R. Eliyah Pesseles (d. 1771), helped finance the Gaon’s study activity), distinguished Kabbalist Rabbi Noah Mindes Lipshutz and Rabbi Yissachar Baer (a younger brother of the Vilna Gaon).
MK Yakov Margi stated that he will do what ever is necessary to fight Antisemitism and protect the cemeteries in Europe.
Asked about whether he supported the fight against Antisemitism and action to prevent the desecration of the Jewish cemetery, MK Shevach Stern said, “As the son of Holocaust survivors, who lost their families in the gas chambers and crematoria just because they were Jews, is it even possible to think otherwise?”
MK Yair Lapid said that his party Yesh Atid believes in a zero tolerance policy towards Antisemitism. Mr. Lapid, leader of the opposition, has spoken out clearly and consistently against antisemitism from anti-zionists on the far left and Holocaust revisionists on the far right. A spokesperson from Mr. Lapid’s office said, “Both Mr. Lapid and the party will continue to do so, because we believe Israel has a moral responsibility to lead the fight against Antisemitism and stand shoulder to shoulder with Jewish communities across the world, when they find themselves under attack. That is the meaning of being one nation, of being a Jewish family.”
Former IDF Colonel and MK Moti Yogev said that he was committed to supporting action that would prevent the desecration of the Shnipishok cemetery.
MK Yoav Segalovitz of Yesh Atid referenced MK Yair Lapid’s speech in the Hungarian Parliament against Antisemitism in 2013 and vowed that the party will do whatever it takes. View Full Speech.
Deena Pinson Birnbaum, the Communications Advisor for the Blue and White Party said, “Let me state clearly that as a son of Holocaust survivors, nothing could be more personal to our chairman, Benny Gantz, nor more pertinent to the basic orientation of our party.”
The sentiments expressed by the Members of Knesset, reflect the strong views which the Israeli Knesset have, on protecting the Shnipishok cemetery from desecration and preventing the development of the conference center.
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