August 5, 2013

The Knesset and Raoul Wallenberg


Why does the Knesset speaker not answer a question about appointing a contact person?

For many years now, I have been dealing with different Israeli government representatives in order to request assistance in the search for Raoul Wallenberg.

A Swedish diplomat, Wallenberg saved tens of thousands of Jewish persons during the Holocaust in Budapest. He was arrested in 1945 by the Russians, and since then his fate is unknown. Sunday was his 101st birthday. He is also an Honorary Citizen of Israel.

About a year ago, Louise Von Dardel, Wallenber’s niece, was invited by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to speak at the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial event at the Knesset.

Louise and myself were also invited to have lunch with Ambassador Oded Ben-Hur, diplomatic adviser to the speaker. Since then I have been speaking to Ben-Hur about appointing a contact person for the case.

A contact person is crucial in this case. Such a person would be a gobetween for some of Raoul’s family members, Wallenberg activists and the Knesset.

In the beginning of April I wrote to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, with an official request for the appointment of a contact person. A bit later, I received a beautifully written letter, in which Edelstein highlighted the importance of the humanitarian work of Raoul.

He wrote “our diplomats abroad will continue to cooperate and assist in any efforts needed in order to uncover the truth about his fate.”

Unfortunately the speaker did not answer my question about appointing a contact person, who is so necessary, in order to inform about any progress in the case. I followed up again with Ben-Hur.

He referred the case to Kobi Tzoref, adviser to the speaker.

Tzoref was kind enough to write me a letter. Again no mention in this letter of a contact person. I then turned to Gila Rothschild, internal auditor and responsible for public complaints in the Knesset, with a request to know why Tzoref had not answered all my questions.

Rothschild replied, saying “This is to inform you that I have spoken to Mr. Tzoref and he assured me that he will be replying to you in full soon.”

Finally I thought I got what I had asked for.

Surprisingly, Mr. Tzoref did not reply. Instead, I received a letter from Dan Marzuk, Knesset advocate, who wrote on behalf of the Knesset Speaker’s office and its internal auditor. Unfortunately in Marzuk’s letter there was still no answer to my request to appoint a contact person.

As in any other “missing in action” case, the appointment of a contact person is standardized procedure and in this case the solution is simple.

Speaker Edelstein, please just do it.

It is my sincere wish that if you are a member of the Knesset and you would like to help, that you please offer your assistance to appoint a contact person for this righteous man.

Max Grunberg is the founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Honorary Citizen Committee, Ra’anana, and can be emailed at