DOCUMENTS | THE OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | INTERNATIONAL PETITION | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | CEMETERIES | VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE | HUMAN RIGHTS
VILNIUS—Following Defending History’s publication last weekend of the 28 July 2017 letter to the president of Lithuania signed by twelve United States congressmen, pleading for the new national convention center project to be moved away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (Piramónt, in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius), the news was reported by The Weekly of Vilnius, an elite diplomatic publication on Lithuanian affairs, and then by BNS (Baltic News Service, and in English via the Lithuania Tribune), which put it into the wider Baltic domain. Last Monday, 14 August, there were at least four panel discussions broadcast on Lithuanian TV and radio. The following are full English translations of each of these broadcasts, provided by DefendingHistory.com.
(1) LNK TV: News. With Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Faina Kukliansky, Rūta Leitanaitė, Daniel Lupschitz (Danielius Lupšicas), Deividas Matulionis, Romas Pakalnis, Donatas Stundis
(4) LRT Radio: 60 Minutes. With Simon Gurevich, Agnė Kairiūnaitė, Faina Kukliansky, Deividas Matulionis, passers-by and a taxi driver
(1) LNK TV: News (from 12:13 to 15:45). Original here.
Host: American congressmen have written a letter to the president of Lithuania in the hope that a congress hall will not be established in the currently dilapidated Palace of Sports, because the Palace of Sports stands in a Jewish cemetery. The government says that the American congressmen may have received incorrect information. Donatas Stundis will tell us why.
Donatas Stundis [News Editor at LNK TV]: Lithuania is again in the center of attention when it comes to Jewish cemeteries. Twelve American congressmen have written a letter to the president in which they urge Lithuania to abandon plans for turning the dilapidated Palace of Sports into a congress hall, because it stands on old Jewish graves.
Daniel Lupshitz [Advisor to the Mayor of Vilnius]: Judaism carries the belief that the Messiah will come. When the Messiah comes, it is written that all the deceased — either all the deceased or only the righteous ones — will have to rise from their graves. If they have to rise, how will they rise if, say, a bone, for example, from their leg, is missing? Logical, isn’t it? They won’t be able to rise. So, the graves cannot be disturbed.
Donatas Stundis: The issues around the cemetery that used to be in Šnipiškės back in the Tsarist days were settled back in 2009. Then, a luxurious apartment complex was being built nearby. Specialists from Israel used a ground-penetrating radar to see if the complex was not being built on the graves. The government says that the exact site of the cemetery was determined back then, too. The parking lot that used to be there was turned into a lawn and a memorial sign was erected.
Deividas Matulionis [Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister]: I was a little surprised that the Congressmen are basing their claims on the information that has not been properly checked, they may have gotten it from somewhere, I don’t know from where, but in fact the Palace of Sports is not in the territory of the cemetery. The territory in question is disputed. There may have been graves there, or there may have not been a single grave there at all.
Donatas Stundis: The Government counseled about the fate of the Palace of Sports with the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe. The joint decision was to revive the Palace of Sports and commemorate the nearby cemetery, but now it is challenged by some.
Faina Kukliansky [Chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish Community]: I am not a specialist or an architect, but I’m a Vilnian. Every person understands that something has to be done with the building, it cannot be in the condition that it is now in.
Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) [Chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community]: Chairwoman of the Community has expressed her opinion that everything is fine with the project. However, both the former and the current Chief Rabbis of Lithuania have stated that they don’t think it is righteous to build a congress hall in that territory. The Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe approves [of the project], but many Jewish organizations in the world do not agree with it.
Donatas Stundis: American Congressmen urge Lithuania to completely demolish the Palace of Sports and, instead of establishing a congress hall, commemorate the old Jewish cemetery. On the other hand, the Palace cannot be demolished according to the Lithuanian law, as it is considered to be heritage.
Romas Pakalnis (Chairman of the National Commission for UNESCO): The building, so to say, at least on the outside is a real example of a certain architectural line of that past era, that’s why it was entered into the Register of Cultural Heritage.
Rūta Leitanaitė (Chairperson of the Union of Architects): Stagnant situations like this one are not beneficial to the architectural heritage and, when talking about the Palace of Sports, it is a crumbling building that people have not been able to visit for a decade or even longer by now because it’s dangerous, and the longer the wait, the worse for the architecture.
Donatas Stundis: The Jews who do not agree with the reconstruction of the Palace of Sports want the Government to promise to find another spot for the congress hall, and then, according to them, the fate of the Palace of Sports can be finally decided. Donatas Stundis and Vidmantas Beržinis reporting from Vilnius.
(2) LRT TV: Panorama (from 01:06 to 03:35). Original here.
Host: Representatives of the Lithuanian government say that the old Šnipiškės Jewish cemetery will not be harmed during the reconstruction of the abandoned Palace of Sports in the center of Vilnius and that a group of United States Congressmen’s worries related to the Jewish graves are unfounded. In a letter addressed to the president, twelve Congressmen urge Lithuania to stop the reconstruction of the Palace of Sports and its subsequent adaptation to a congress hall, and to leave the old Šnipiškės Jewish cemetery undisturbed.
Valdonė Rundenkienė (reporting): The Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports, having been left abandoned and transferred from one owner to another for a long time, had to be reconstructed this year and a congress hall needed to be established in its place. However, the procedure of public procurement went stagnant due to legal investigations, and the reconstruction has not yet started, and now the leaders of the state got a letter from twelve United States congressmen who urge Lithuania to stop the reconstruction efforts in order to preserve the old Jewish cemetery. President Dalia Grybauskaitė has stated that the project is coordinated with the largest Jewish organizations, namely the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe. Nevertheless, some Jews oppose the project.
Simon Gurevich: We know very well that the chief rabbis of Lithuania, both the former and the current, do not support the notion that there should be a congress hall there. We think that there are other ways to use this real estate, the square, and the building in a way that no congresses would take place there, and to simply find another site for the congress hall.
Valdonė Rundenkienė: In their letter, United States congressmen urge that the Palace of Sports be demolished. But the Advisor to the Prime Minister says that no such plans exist.
Skirmantas Malinauskas (Advisor to the Prime Minister): As far as I know, everything was coordinated with the international Jewish organizations that unanimously came to the conclusion, together with the Lithuanian Jewish Community, that the reconstruction could be carried out with as little disturbance of the ground in that territory as possible. Today is the first time that we hear of the idea to move the congress hall to another site, and a question arises of what to do with the Palace of Sports then, whether it should be demolished and a memorial established in its place. I think that attention will be paid to all proposals, but I must remind everyone that it is but one of the proposals, and some proposals have already been negotiated and accepted. One must ask: What about the quite serious international agreements that have been settled in the past?
Valdonė Rundenkienė: In 2006, the building of the Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports was entered into the Register of Cultural Heritage. The reconstruction of the Palace of Sports is to be finished by the year 2021.
(3) LRT Radio: Lithuanian Day (from 18:41 to 27:05). Original here.
Host: Twelve members of the American Congress urge Lithuania to stop the reconstruction project for the Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports. In a letter to the president, they urge the government to cancel the plans of adapting the building to host a conference center and not to touch the old Šnipiškės Jewish cemetery. Lithuania says that there will be no harm done to the old Šnipiškės Jewish cemetery during the reconstruction of the abandoned Palace of Sports in the center of Vilnius and that Congressmen’s worries are unfounded. Here, on Lithuanian Day, our colleague Agnė Kairiūnaitė is at the Vilnius Palace of Sports. So, Agnė, what does the territory of the old Šnipiškės Jewish cemetery look like at the moment?
Agnė Kairiūnaitė (reporting): I want to emphasize that if I were not a Vilnian, I would pass by this territory and not even suspect that it’s the territory of the old cemetery: there are no tombstones, no clear boundaries, no fence or anything like that. Of course, the memorial stone erected a while ago gives away that this is the cemetery’s territory. The stone is quite tall, about three meters in height, and is well noticeable. On it, it is written that it commemorates the old Šnipiškės Jewish cemetery. People had been buried here from 1487, and in 1950 the cemetery [i.e. the above-ground gravestone component] was destroyed by the Soviets. So, yes, the stone allows us to understand that this is the territory of the cemetery. However, the territory is huge, and one would never say that it is a cemetery if not for the stone. It looks like an ordinary plot in the city, perhaps the grass is mowed around the memorial stone, but a little further there is nothing out of the ordinary. There is a street, luxurious apartments, houses, meadows, and, of course, the abandoned Palace of Sports, next to which I am standing right now. Even the stairs leading to the palace are dilapidated, weeds sprout through the sidewalks, there are untrimmed bushes, and rotten benches not suitable for sitting, and nettles. The entire plot around the memorial stone is generally abandoned and, of course, the Palace of Sports catches the eye the most. As I’ve said before, it is abandoned, and the surroundings are in a state that give no sign that a Jewish cemetery is nearby.
Host: On Lithuanian Day we have Deividas Matulionis, Advisor on Foreign Policy to the Prime Minister. Mr. Matulionis, what response will the Lithuanian Government deliver to the American congressmen?
Deividas Matulionis: Well, I would consider this document to be a misunderstanding, because the problems it mentions do not exist in reality, at least not anymore. In 2009, we came to an agreement with the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe. We identified the territory that is undisputed, where the former Jewish cemetery was, and, as I have said before, indeed, a parking lot was removed, a stone was erected, it was decided to plant a lawn there, and that construction work must not be carried out there. However, around it, together with the Palace of Sports, is a so-called gray zone or disputed zone, on which we agreed that from the start to the end, if any work is to be carried out there, or the Palace of Sports is to be reconstructed, we will take counsel from the same Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe and the Lithuanian Jewish Community. So it seems to me that we stuck to our position and we’re going to stick to it now. So I don’t fully understand how this problem appeared and why it is approached so sensitively, since in reality we have not done anything noticeable in recent months.
Host: We have the chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community Simon Gurevich. Mr. Gurevich, did you know that the American congressmen were working on a letter to Lithuania?
Simon Gurevich: Good afternoon. I learned about it, this letter, today, from the media, but I want to note that back in 2010 I was active in trying to preserve this territory and to make sure that no work would be carried out there, and I am grateful that the parking lot was closed. However, when it comes to the Palace of Sports, it cannot be said that the Lithuanian Jewish Community agrees with the project. The Chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish Community has expressed her opinion that the Palace of Sports can be reconstructed, but at the same time both Chief Rabbis of Lithuania, the former as well as the current one, have not given their consent to this, rather on the contrary. I would say the whole process seriously lacks transparency…
Host: What kind of transparency and clarity would you like in this project?
Simon Gurevich: I would think that when there is a petition signed by forty thousand people that the Palace of Sports should not be built there. Moreover, when there are numerous red flags that the public procurement process lacks transparency, I would think that we need to pay attention to those red flags. Another point: Perhaps we can use the site of the cemetery in a different way, not for building a congress hall in the center of it? We must understand that many people around the world are following this situation and it is indeed very important that the territory in which the old Jewish cemetery used to be, that it is preserved, and that no old Soviet monstrosities should be reconstructed on it. Perhaps we can establish a nice memorial and build the congress hall a bit further away from the territory of the Jewish cemetery.
Host: Mr. Matulionis, what will the government do now that there are so many concerns, proposals and opinions?
Deividas Matulionis: I think we should definitely talk to the Jewish community and the Jewish organizations in order to make clear what we want, what the Jewish organizations want, and to come to some sort of solution, because it’s a little strange for me, since I really think that we came to an agreement back then that we would coordinate everything with the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, and we stick to this agreement. If it appears that it is unacceptable, if graves are found in the spot where the Palace of Sports stands now, we will reconsider our decisions. But we maintain our good will and we want to move forward, but not at any price, and if there are problems, we don’t want anyone to say that we are ignoring those problems.
Host: Mr. Gurevich, should the Vilnius Jewish Community join the negotiations now, or should someone else do the negotiating? What do you think?
Simon Gurevich: I think that when I spoke about transparency, I had in mind that we have to include as many sides as possible in this process. I don’t want to negotiate with all the concerned parties, but I am glad that the Government paid attention to the needs and opinions of the .Jewish organizations that do work in Lithuania. I think the Lithuanian Jewish Community should in the first place itself participate in the process, for it is they who signed the agreement concerning preservation of this cemetery. I think that when there is good will, many things can be solved. The most important thing is that now, well, the project lacks transparency to the point where it is not clear if, for example, there are plans to build an annex to the main building. And if an annex is built, the ground will be disturbed. For sure!
Host: This year, the government did not assign money for the reconstruction in its financial program, but, according to the Ministry of Finance, funds could still be assigned this year. Mr. Matulionis, does that mean that now the process will in any case be delayed?
Deividas Matulionis: We will see, it is hard to tell now whether it will be delayed or not, no money has been as of yet reserved for this. Indeed, transparency in the public procurement, just as Mr. Gurevich said, everything must be done transparently, and I assure you that we will not do anything that goes against the key, fundamental religious interests of the Jews and our historical memory.
Host: Thank you for the conversation. We’ve had the Advisor on Foreign Policy to the Prime Minister Deividas Matulionis, and Chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community Simon Gurevich.
(4) LRT Radio: 60 minutes (from 05:07 to 18:05). Original here.
Host: United States congressmen have urged Lithuania to halt the Palace of Sports reconstruction project in Vilnius and not to disturb the old Šnipiškės Jewish cemetery. Lithuanian leaders have rejected the reproaches. Advisor to the Prime Minister Deividas Matulionis says that the congressmen’s letter surprised him, as the agreement with the Jewish organizations on the territory of the Šnipiškės cemetery had been reached back in 2009.
Deividas Matulionis: We take this document seriously, but on the other hand, I would consider it to be a misunderstanding, because the problems it mentions do not exist in reality, at least not anymore. In 2009, we came to an agreement with the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe. We identified the territory that is undisputed, where the former Jewish cemetery was, and, as I have said before, a parking lot was indeed removed, a [memorial] stone was erected, it was decided to plant a lawn there, and, that construction work must not be carried out there. However, [the area] around it, together with the Palace of Sports, is a so-called gray zone or disputed zone, on which we agreed that from the start to the end, if any work is to be carried out there, or the Palace of Sports is to be reconstructed, we will take counsel from the same Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe and the Lithuanian Jewish Community. So it seems to me that we stuck to our position and we’re going to stick to it now. So I don’t fully understand how this problem appeared and why it is approached so sensitively, since in reality we have not done anything noticeable in the recent months. We should definitely talk to the Jewish community and the Jewish organizations in order to make clear what we want, what the Jewish organizations want, and to come to some sort of solution, for it is a little strange to me, as I really think that we came to an agreement back then that we would coordinate everything with the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, and we are sticking to this agreement. If it appears that it is unacceptable, if graves are found there, at the site where the Palace of Sports stands now, we can say “yes” then and reconsider our decisions. But we maintain our good will and we want to move forward, but not at any price, and if there are problems, we don’t want anyone to say that we are ignoring those problems. I assure you that we will not do anything that goes against the key, fundamental religious interests of the Jews and our historical memory.
Host: Faina Kukliansky, chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, hello, and Simon Gurevich, hello Mr. Gurevich.
Faina Kukliansky: Hello.
Simon Gurevich: Hello.
Host: It was you who said on the radio earlier that this letter from the congressmen was a surprise to you, too. Do you approve of this kind of letter, or not?
[Both guests talk at once]
Host: The question is for Mr. Gurevich, please.
Simon Gurevich: The Vilnius Jewish Community would simply like to know what is being done. We take care of the cultural heritage of Vilnius’s Jews and it was news to us. We are worried and we would simply like to know more about this.
Host: And why are you worried?
Simon Gurevich: Well, we think that if things are as stated in the congressmen’s letter, that the construction will take place right on top of the bones. We know that the process has been lacking in transparency, we read about it in the media, and we worry that not only our rights but human values, in general, are in danger.
Host: Ms. Kukliansky, what do you think of this letter and Mr. Gurevich’s thoughts?
Faina Kukliansky: I thank Mr. Gurevich for his opinion, but I would like to reiterate what the Advisor to the Prime Minister Mr. Deividas Matulionis has said: Indeed, during the whole time when the discussions on the possible construction were underway, the Lithuanian Jewish Community participated in all of them. I also want to say that we have no doubts that the government and the Department of Cultural Heritage would never act in a way that would hurt Jewish dignity or break Jewish law. At the end of the day we, the Lithuanian Jewish Community, are not great specialists in Jewish law, therefore we are very grateful to the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe who take an active part and interest in the process, and supervise the works. I see no problems here and I think that the senators’ letter most probably has no grounds and appeared because of the petition that was created a while ago and signed, as far as I know, by forty thousand Jews. However, the Lithuanian Jewish Community has expressed its opinion on this petition and has warned society at large that not everything in the petition is—not everything is true to reality.
Host: Yes. Mr. Gurevich, it seems that everything had already been decided, in 2009 an agreement was reached, Mr. Matulionis reminds us of the agreement, everything has been coordinated with the Jewish Community, which is confirmed by Ms. Kukliansky. How do you see everything now?
Simon Gurevich: The agreement that was reached is an agreement on preservation of the Jewish cemetery. We did not reach an agreement on the Palace of Sports building, mentioned by Mr. Matulionis. We are happy when principles held dear by Jews and humanity in general are honored, but we hear from the media that the process was not transparent, the process of procurement as well as the process of renovation. We really don’t know the details, we hope that everything is in order just as Ms. Kukliansky claims, but if we look at this from the standpoint of morality, well, then we do have a remark: I imagine that there must be many sites in the city of Vilnius where a congress hall could be built, but, contrary to what Mr. Matulionis says, the Palace of Sports undoubtedly does stand on the Jewish cemetery, we know that very well and we remember it from our history. So, in a moral sense, I would say that there are places in Vilnius more suited than the Palace of Sports where a congress hall could be built. But again, the Vilnius Jewish Community has not been taking part in the process from its outset, it was the Lithuanian Jewish Community that has been involved, and I am hearing an assurance that everything is in order. We would like to get to know the situation better, and we would be happy to do so, but, speaking in a moral sense, I suggest that we do not forget this aspect: Forty thousand people! Even if not everything there was stated correctly, we should pay attention, also to the letter of the twelve Congressmen who, most probably, don’t just write letters out of thin air.
Host: Yes, if you mention history, we should be objective and say that a Jewish cemetery had operated in the center of Vilnius from the 16th century, but in the first half of the 19th century the Jewish community — the cemetery was closed and the Jewish community received financial compensation from the administration of the Russian Tsar.
Simon Gurevich: …But not for the part where the Palace of Sports stands.
Host: That’s the history, Mr. Gurevich. Now Ms. Kukliansky, let us come back to the letter: Why do they keep appearing? This isn’t even the first letter from congressmen.
Faina Kukliansky: Well, it seems that there are some people who think the same as Mr. Gurevich. And there are differing opinions among these people, at the end of the day, there can also be some insinuations made by some people. Perhaps the congressmen who signed the letter don’t know everything, and we would gladly invite them to come to Lithuania and see the site and the plans with their own eyes. The director of the Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe is ready to come to Lithuania and take part in a conference. If anything happened in a way by which not everything is clear or something is not conveyed clearly, we eagerly invite them to come and make sure that no one is desecrating any graves or cemeteries, that they are not there anymore, that the foundation is 7.37 meters deep, that the building is not being constructed at the moment, that it has stood there for a long time and is a symbol of the Soviet approach towards religion and Jewish traditions… So it is hard for me to tell which persons signed the letter, but I would simply want to invite them to come and look into the full picture of the circumstances.
Host: Mr. Gurevich, if we look at the situation now, your opinion differs from Ms. Kukliansky’s. Why is there no consensus?
Smon Gurevich: These are not necessarily differing opinions, because I would like to agree with Ms. Kukliansky, when she says that everything is supervised by these European rabbis, and perhaps there really are no plans to build an annex to the building. But since very little is known about the project, really, and there is a lot of talk, we hear a lot of information from different sources, we ourselves don’t have detailed information. Purely from the moral perspective, since you asked, I think that there are better places to build a congress hall, because I think that there will really be quite a few people who will refuse to come and give lectures there, or take part in other events that would take place in that location. On the other hand, if everything is being done according to the law, if everything is being done transparently, if the Jewish traditions are being supervised by European rabbis, I would invite, just as Ms. Kukliansky said — in order to make this process as open as possible — all those who don’t like the project to get acquainted with the material. Perhaps there is in fact much ado about nothing?
Host: Hmm, Ms. Kukliansky, according to you, is the commemoration of the cemetery, as it is today, sufficient?
Faina Kukliansky: Today exactly it isn’t sufficient, perhaps, but the things that I have seen in projects and plans, those of both the municipality and the government — there are plans to commemorate the site of the former cemetery in a truly beautiful and dignified way. Again, I am not a specialist, but it seems to me that all the projects express enormous respect to the former cemetery and to those remaining there — if there are remains there, still — and to the Jews of Lithuania.
Host: Chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community Simon Gurevich and Chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish Community Faina Kukliansky, Agnė Kairiūnaitė today visited the former Vilnius Palace of Sports and asked passers-by what they think about the plans to open a congress hall after the reconstruction. Here’s what she got.
Agnė Kairiūnaitė: What do you think, should the Palace of Sports be reconstructed?
Passer-by 1: I think yes, it’s a beautiful building, the architecture is very beautiful, I live around here and see it through my windows. My husband is a construction worker, he feels nostalgic about it. Some interesting decisions should be made on what to do inside it, perhaps something more than offices or some museum, as I’ve heard they want to turn it into a Jewish museum.
Agnė Kairiūnaitė: The Vilnius Jewish Community urges the municipality to look for another site for the congress hall because there is the old Jewish cemetery here. What do you think about that?
Passer-by 1: Well, yes, but perhaps it would be better if it was something for everyone? I am not against it, it is a small community, there is a cemetery here, and we really respect that, everyone respects that, but I think we can really find something more interesting to do here. Some sort of exhibition or some other interesting thing to do.
Agnė Kairiūnaitė: Did you know that this is the old Jewish cemetery?
Passer-by 1: Yes, yes, my husband told it to me straight: “There is a Jewish cemetery here.” I don’t know whose fault it is that everything is so abandoned here, perhaps there could be something more, an informational stand or a better monument; some sort of memorial, a commemoration.
Agnė Kairiūnaitė: In your opinion, should the Palace of Sports be reconstructed?
Passer-by 2: I think yes.
Agnė Kairiūnaitė: And the fact that there is a Jewish cemetery nearby, is that an obstacle?
Passer-by 2: I see no problem with that. Everything is broken, windows are broken, new windows are put in, they are broken again, it’s all abandoned.
Kairiūnaitė: I will ask my taxi driver… Do you know that you came to pick me up by the old Jewish cemetery?
Taxi driver: I didn’t even know that there was a cemetery here.
Agnė Kairiūnaitė: There is a memorial stone over there, but perhaps it’s not too noticeable.
Taxi driver: There’s not even a sign on the street that would indicate that there’s a monument or something…
Agnė Kairiūnaitė: In your opinion, should the Palace of Sports be reconstructed, or is it perhaps the case that the old Jewish cemetery is there, and the community urges the municipality to abstain from building a congress hall in a place like that?
Taxi driver: I support the renovation, the construction, and everyone positively moving towards that. It’s necessary. And when it’s necessary, it’s necessary, why not. A cemetery is a cemetery, it’s not a big deal.
Host: So, Agnė Kairiūnaitė visited the former Vilnius Palace of Sports today and asked passers-by what they think about the plans to open a congress hall there after the reconstruction. United States congressmen are urging Lithuania to stop the Palace of Sports reconstruction project in Vilnius and not to disturb the old Šnipiškės Jewish cemetery. Lithuania’s leaders have rejected their disapproval.