Record number of MKs to attend Holocaust Day event at Auschwitz

Eli Wiesel and lawmakers from around the world to take part in January parley on anti-Semitism.

Yuli Edelstein370 (photo credit: Screenshot Channel 10)
Yuli Edelstein370
(photo credit: Screenshot Channel 10)
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.”
Each MK 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 said.
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 can.”
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 logistical issues.
“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 Wiesel.
“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 that.”
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.