OPINION | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | HUMAN RIGHTS | CEMETERIES | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | PETITION
JERUSALEM—A 12 September 2018 letter from ten members of Israel’s Knesset (parliament) to Lithuania’s president, Dalia Grybauskaite, was released to the media today. The letter calls on the Lithuanian president to cancel plans for a national convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery and to “find a reasonable alternative” for situating the new convention center.
The Israeli parliamentarians’ letter, at the bottom of this report and available from Defending History as PDF, comes on the heels of the recent appeal by three United States senators, and last year’s call in the same spirit by twelve members of the United States House of Representatives. An international petition initiated by a leading member of Vilnius’s Orthodox Jewish community, Ruta Bloshtein, has to date achieved 44,400 signatures. In addition Litvak (Lithuanian tradition) rabbis and rabbinical organizations internationally, along with many other writers from diverse backgrounds, have put in writing unequivocal opposition to the project. Within Lithuanian society, the two leaders of the movement to save the old Jewish cemetery from the convention center are both non-Jewish citizens whose writings and actions are an international credit to the country and its capacity for robust discourse. See the Andrius Kulikauskas and Julius Norwilla sections in DH.