estonia WWII memorial.
(photo credit: AP)
In an attempt to draw the Jerusalem Municipality's attention to their plight, World War II veterans gathered on Tuesday at the Knesset to voice their discontent with the city's decision to scrap the May 9 Victory Day Parade.
Wearing WWII medals, veterans joined representatives from the Immigrant Absorption and Defense Ministries, both responsible for implementing laws regarding veterans, at a meeting of a commission appointed to resolve the issues surrounding the canceled parade. Kadima MK Ze'ev Elkin opened the proceedings by pointing out that after twelve years of successful May 9 parades, veterans were unable to commemorate this monumental date.
"There is a law in Israel that mandates May 9 as a national holiday commemorating victory over Nazi Germany... I want the May 9 Parade to be conducted under the auspices of the Israeli government," Elkin declared.
Billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak said that Mayor Uri Lupolianski considered him a political opponent and, knowing that he had the means to help with the parade, had sabotaged it.
MK Michael Nudelman (Kadima) concurred, saying it was "highly plausible" that the parade had been cancelled because of a political clash between the two.
But the injured party - the veterans - were not there to resolve a squabble between two public personas. Their main interest was to prevent another cancellation.
Rafael Rubinovich, an 80-year old WWII veteran, spoke for all: "In two or three years, most of us will disappear from the Earth and there won't be anyone to remind you of the struggle that was WWII."
"Jews in Israel need to remember that half a million Jews fought in WWII. And when we hear petty excuses from the municipality, it truly saddens me," Rubinovich continued.
Jerusalem Municipality representative Pini Glinkevich explained that the decision to scrap the May 9 parade was not malicious. "It was a technical matter - veterans weren't allowed to parade because the municipality concluded that the parade... would disrupt [its] work day," he said.
Furthermore, Glinkevich said, the parade route and traffic diversions had not been finalized in time. He suggested that the veterans "talk to the police regarding that."
Roman Gurevich, head of an independent nonpartisan camp representing Jerusalem's new immigrant community, agreed that the cancellation of the parade was due to city politics.
"The May 9 Victory Day parade has been conducted in the same place, the same time, with the same route and traffic patterns, for 12 years," Gurevich told The Jerusalem Post.
He added that despite the city's excuse that parade noise would be disruptive, on May 27, festivities had been held in front of the municipality "with music so loud it shook windows."
Nudelman promised the veterans prompt action on their grievances: "We will send a letter to Mayor Lupolianski demanding a public apology to those precluded from conducting the May 9 parade," he said.
Nudelman added that he intended to organize a committee to assure that future May 9 parades would be national events.
Nudelman told the Post that while "a mayor may send home a few old people with medals," he would be unlikely to interfere if it were a national event incorporating IDF divisions.