OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | PETITION | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | CEMETERIES | VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE | MEDIA WATCH
VILNIUS—In comments reported today by the Lithuanian press service ELTA, the nation’s prime minister, Saulius Skvernelis has announced and hailed the decision to proceed with a national convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery as one that “will lift the Lithuanian capital to a higher level of competitiveness in tourism.” He also notes that “the lack of a modern congress center in Vilnius is the main obstacle for the development of conference tourism in Lithuania,” not mentioning that there are numerous alternative sites for much more rapid and hassle-free construction of such a center.
It is frequently noted here that far from bringing honor to Vilnius and Lithuania, the conference center on the old Jewish cemetery project will bring generations of protest and ongoing instances of prominent persons of conscience from around the world refusing to appear in the building as a matter of principle. It is not only a matter of sentiment relating to the murder of 96.4% of Lithuanian Jewry during the Holocaust, because of which there are no local descendants to fight for their ancestors’ graves. It is also a current livewire human rights and racism issue. There is little disagreement that in the event of a medieval Lithuanian or Christian cemetery that still contained remains of many thousands of Citizens of Vilnius, no such project would even be discussed.