A record number of MKs are expected to make an official trip abroad in January,
but it won’t be an ordinary trip to a foreign parliament. The Knesset will hold
a discussion on anti-Semitism at Auschwitz-Birkenau on International Holocaust
Remembrance Day, January 27, 2014.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein plans
to invite all of the Knesset’s factions on the trip, and expects dozens to
oblige. In addition, he will urge opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich, all
deputy Knesset speakers and Knesset committee chairmen and chairwomen to attend
“to show that this isn’t just another trip to a conference.”
attending will be accompanied by a Holocaust survivor.
Polish and Russian
lawmakers plan to take part in the event, as well.
“This event has the
potential not just to be a memorial but to develop into a symposium for elected
officials to discuss how the Holocaust and anything like it can never happen
again,” Edelstein told The Jerusalem Post
“As a former Diaspora affairs
minister, who dealt with fighting anti- Semitism, I saw that we need to do
something to make the issue more actual and relevant,” Edelstein
The Knesset speaker explained that the reason the event is taking
place in 2014, and not a year later on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of
Auschwitz-Birkenau, is because survivors pass away each day and may not be able
to take the trip next year.
Edelstein’s message is similar to the motto
of From the Depths, the organization planning the trip, whose mission is to
bring lessons of the past to future generations, by working to help Holocaust
survivors and preserve Jewish sites in Poland.
“I’m part of the last
generation to speak and be in touch with survivors, and a great responsibility
to bring the message forward comes with that,” From the Depths founder and
executive director Jonny Daniels said. “It’s incredibly important that something
be done to honor the survivors and stand with them hand-in-hand while we still
Daniels, who also works as a consultant to politicians in Israel
and abroad, expects 70 MKs to attend, but no ministers, because of security and
“The symbolism of the majority of the Knesset coming
and standing with the survivors in a place in which 69 years ago they didn’t
imagine they’d live another day is so strong,” Daniels stated. “They’ll stand in
Auschwitz-Birkenau with the government of the Jewish people and generals of the
Jewish army and leaders of Jewish youth organizations. There’s no
stronger way to stand.”
Daniels says that lawmakers from the US, Canada,
the UK, France, Sweden, Australia and other countries have expressed interest in
participating in the event, as well as one very special guest, Eli
“He doesn’t like to go to Poland, but he understands the
significance of the event,” Daniels said of Wiesel.
“The awesomeness of
being there with MPs from all over the world, from every continent is so great;
there’s no better stage on which he can speak, and he understands
Daniels also expects both chief rabbis to attend, as well as the
Kaliver Rebbe, the head of a hassidic sect in Jerusalem, who survived Auschwitz.