On January 27th, 2014, the largest ever delegation of Knesset members will convene overseas in an unusual location - the grounds of the former Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp - together with Holocaust survivors, for a historic gathering on combating anti-Semitism.
The symbolism could not be any more striking, mere meters away from the gas chambers where millions of Jews were once murdered, will meet the representatives of the Parliament of the Jewish State of Israel.
The event is being held on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an international memorial day in honor of the 6 million Jews who perished during the Holocaust. This year will also mark the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Allied troops in 1945.
The Israeli delegation will include over 60 Members of Knesset, and will be led by Speaker of the Knesset, Mr. Yuli Edelstein. Each Member of Knesset will be accompanying a Holocaust survivor. In addition, the Israeli delegation will include senior representatives of the Israel Defense Forces, the Chief Rabbis of the State of Israel and representatives of various student groups, signifying the living link between the past and the future.
In a symbolic message that anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish or Israeli issue, but a global struggle, the Israeli delegation will be joined by a large number of elected officials and Parliamentarians from around the world, including Europe and a senior bi-partisan group of leaders from the U.S. Congress. Famed Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel will also join the group.
Edelstein adds “anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, has reached a level unprecedented since the end of the Holocaust.” Noting the “importance and urgency” of combatting global anti-Semitism, he warns “we must not wait until the trains start going to Auschwitz-Birkenau once again.”
The event organizer and the person behind the project is Jonny Daniels, an Israeli, who is the Founder and Executive Director of ‘From the Depths’, a non-profit organization devoted to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and ‘connecting the Jewish past with the Jewish future’.
Daniels says “at least one Holocaust survivor an hour is dying in Israel and we are getting very close to the point where there will be no more first-hand accounts left. The onus falls on us, not just as Jews and Israelis, but humanity as a while, to learn, to be with the survivors and to understand what happened and to ensure it never repeats again.”