Fifty-five MKs, six ministers, 24 Holocaust survivors, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, Chief Rabbi David Lau, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and some 250 other public figures are scheduled to arrive in Poland on January 27, 2014 – Holocaust Remembrance Day – for a one-day visit.
The largest delegation of MKs to be sent since the Israeli parliament`s establishment will be headed by Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein and visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp while also holding an inter-parliamentary meeting titled, ”Reflections on Auschwitz: Remembering the past, looking to the future.”
”I am convinced that this painful and powerful journey will not be forgotten,” Speaker Edelstein said. ”The elected parliament of the nation in Israel is travelling to the valley of the killings in order to feel part of the pain and allow the memory to be engraved in our hearts. The significance of this difficult journey is huge, and I hope and believe that it will leave an impression that will honor the survivors and the memory of the Holocaust. I am proud of the Knesset, its members and the dignitaries who are accompanying them for their impressive undertaking.”
The two planes carrying the Knesset delegation will land at a military base in Krakow. From there the delegation members will be taken by bus to Auschwitz, where they will tour the prisoner blocks and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, which is located in Block 27. The tour will be conducted by Education Minister Shai Piron and MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, both of whom gave guided group tours of Auschwitz in the past.
Following the tour the delegation will march to the Birkenau concentration camp. The march will be headed by Speaker Edelstein. In Birkenau, a memorial ceremony will be held on behalf of the Polish government, during which Edelstein, Holocaust survivors and representatives of the Polish and Russian governments will speak. Some 1,000 people, including members of the Polish parliament (the ”Sejm”), are expected to take part in this ceremony. Following the ceremony, the delegation will march to the monument in Birkenau, where the ”El malei rachamim” prayer will be recited, kadish will be said and official guests will light candles.
Later, an inter-parliamentary gathering will take place in Krakow with the participation of MPs and prominent figures from Israel, the United States, Poland, Canada and other countries. Knesset Speaker Edelstein and his Polish counterpart Ewa Kopacz will deliver speeches, after which MKs and parliament members will deliver a series of one-minute speeches on the Holocaust. The visit will conclude with a dinner sponsored by the World Zionist Organization and the From the Depths non-profit organization, which is behind the scheduled visit of the Israeli delegation to Poland.
”This project is the realization of a dream,” said Jonny Daniels, the founder and executive director of From the Depths. ”Seeing dozens of Knesset members on the soil of the Auschwitz death camp – this is an unprecedented statement, and I am proud of From the Depths` part in the initiative.”
The following is a list of MKs and ministers who have confirmed their participation in the visit to Poland as of January 19, 2014 (changes are possible):
Menachem Eliezer Moses