Rabbi Weiss Says No to the
Monument in Belzec
Rabbi Avi Weiss arrived to Poland
in order to protest against the memorial-monument located
the former concentration camp in Belzec. "The American
Jewish Committee and the Polish government bear full
responsibility for the desacralization of the place
where the remains of Jews lie," stated the rabbi
on Wednesday during a press conference in Warsaw.
The AJC in cooperation with the
Polish government intends to build the memorial of the
victims of the Belzec camp. The joint project assumes
the digging of a ditch 180 meters long and 3,5 meters
wide. The ditch was planned already ten years ago.
Avi Weiss demands the discontinuation of the works,
which he calls "one of the greatest desacralizations
of remains of Jews in history". He announced he
would sue the Polish government unless the works were
immediately halted. In the US he already undertook such
steps against the AJC.
The suit was ridiculed by David
Harris, the managing director of the AJC. "This
is not a serious issue. We are quite certain the New
York court shall dismiss the case as unjustified",
he said. He added that the plans of the memorial were
accepted by Jewish religious authorities, the victims
and survivors of the Holocaust.
The AJC rejected Weiss' accusations
and claimed that the planned path should stay away from
the 33 mass graves found so far, and it would prevent
visitors from walking on the ground. "For years
this place was neglected. Now the memorial has a chance
of finally explaining the history of the camp, of protecting
the mass graves. It would pay homage to its victims,
so that we would never forget them", state the
leaders of the committee.
From 1942 until the first half
of 1943 in Belzec over 500,000 people had been murdered
- mainly Jews from Galicja and European countries such
as Germany, Belgium, Holland and Norway. The victims
were usually sent to gas chambers straight from the
railroad cars. The camp was completely liquidated in
1943 and the Germans planted a forest.
This was not rabbi Weiss's first
trip to Poland. A few years ago he was one of the most
active participants of the dispute regarding the Carmelite
convent. In 1989 he entered the convent twice stating
the nuns should leave the area where Jews had died.
He also opposed the presence of a cross in the Oswiecim
zwirowisko claiming that no Christian symbols should
be placed where the extermination of Jews took place
- even if Christians also died there.