Excavating the Great Synagogue of Vilnius

Aug. 13 2015

The once-magnificent Great Synagogue of Vilna (Vilnius) was partially destroyed by the Germans during World War II; the Soviet demolished the rest of it in 1957. Now a group of archaeologists is trying to recover what remains. Toby Tabachnick writes:

Now mostly Catholic, Vilnius was once called the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” and was home to about 60,000 Jews, constituting about 30 percent of the city’s total population. The Nazis invaded Vilnius on June 24, 1941, and transported its Jews to the nearby forest of Ponary, where they were all murdered by firing squad. . . .

The team [of archaeologists] is creating plans of sub-surface locations of the remains of the Great Synagogue. . . . While housing and a school now sit on the site, some of the synagogue’s original structure remains below the surface. . . .

After as much information as possible can be obtained about the Great Synagogue, [the archaeologists’] goal is to have local authorities, including its current small Jewish community, erect either a memorial or a museum. It is unlikely the Great Synagogue will be rebuilt for use as a synagogue.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Archaeology, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Lithuania, Soviet Union, Vilna

America Is Right to Withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council

June 21 2018

Yesterday the U.S. announced its decision to withdraw from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which serves primarily as a forum for the worst human-rights abusers to condemn Israel while ignoring the atrocious behavior of tyrants. Anne Bayefsky writes:

Among the 47 UN states calling the shots on the organization’s top human-rights body are such human-rights paragons as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, . . . Qatar, and Venezuela. . . .

There is no doubt that the UN Human Rights Council is a productive tool for anti-Semites. Discrimination against the Jewish state is baked into its procedures . . . as well as its composition. The council reserves one permanent agenda item for every one of its regular sessions solely for condemning Israel. All other 192 UN member states are considered together under a separate item, if they are discussed at all.

The council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than any other country on earth, and nothing condemning almost 90 percent of the world’s states. The council has held more emergency special sessions on Israel than on any other country, including Syria—where at least 500,000 have died and up to 12 million have been displaced.

But even beyond the disturbing fact that anti-Semitism thrives at the United Nations under the guise of human rights is that the “human-rights” experts, the nongovernmental organizations and the academic entourage surrounding this whole apparatus, have the council’s back. For months, they have been flooding the airwaves and [the American ambassador to the UN Nikki] Haley and [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo’s email inboxes begging the Trump administration to stay on the council. In a nutshell, they make one basic point: the demonization of Israel, even if undeserved, is peripheral to the common good. Pompeo and Haley have courageously decided to set them straight. Equal rights cannot be built on inequality for Jews and the Jewish state.

Read more at Fox News

More about: Israel & Zionism, U.S. Foreign policy, UNHRC, United Nations