US House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor will travel to Auschwitz-Birkenau on International Holocaust Remembrance Day next week, taking part in an unprecedented event with Israeli, Polish and Russian officials, according to e-mails obtained by The Jerusalem Post Sunday.
Cantor will be joined by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC) at the mega-event with the Knesset's largest-ever delegation abroad, even though it will take place on January 27, the day before the State of the Union Address.
"This is a priority for [Cantor]," a source said, explaining the Majority Leader's willingness to attend the event despite the tight schedule. "He's never been to Auschwitz before."
The Knesset is sending the largest delegation in its history to Poland next Monday, consisting of 64 MKs, including Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, Education Minister Shai Piron, Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel, Pensioners' Affairs Minister Uri Orbach, Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz, Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and Welfare Minister Meir Cohen, as well as Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, Bank of Israel President Karnit Flug, Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira and former MKs. In addition, 30 Holocaust survivors from Israel will join them.
The delegation will take part in the Polish government's annual ceremony, on the grounds of the concentration camp. Immediately after, Israeli and Polish representatives will say prayers and MKs and Holocaust survivors will light candles.
Later Monday, the Knesset and the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish Parliament, will hold a joint meeting in which Israeli and Polish lawmakers, plus Jewish lawmakers from around Europe, will give speeches.
The Israeli delegation and event is the brainchild of Jonny Daniels, a political consultant and founder and Executive Director of From The Depths, an organization with a 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,” Daniels said in September, when he announced the event. “It’s incredibly important that something be done to honor the survivors and stand with them hand-in-hand while we still can.”
“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.”