July 12, 2004

Gathering in front of Israel´s Parliament in Jerusalem

A remarkable gathering in front of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, took place on July 12. The meeting was organized by several humanitarian organizations asking Israel’s government a stronger commitment to find out Raoul Wallenberg’s fate. Wallenberg is the Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of persecuted people, most of them Jewish, by the Nazi regime.

The meeting was summoned by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, the Friendship Movement (Reut) and the Raoul Wallenberg Honorary Committee.

Natan Sharansky, Minister responsible for Jerusalem, social and Diaspora affairs; Baruch Tenembaum, founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation; Eli Joseph, leader of the Friendship Movement, and Max Grunberg, president of the Raoul Wallenberg Honorary Committee, spoke on the occasion.

They underlined the moral debt that the Jewish people and the State of Israel has towards Raoul Wallenberg; debts that must promote a stronger activism to ask the Russian authorities explanations about Wallenberg, who dissapeared after being arrested by the Red Army on January 17, 1945. The Soviet Union through its highest authorities pointed out, first in 1947 and later in 1957, that Wallenberg died while in prison. However, it was never explained why he had been arrested, or given proofs about his supposed death.

”The Holy Book tells us a story of Prophet Elias who went to Heaven without time to comfort his people. This allegory applies to Wallenberg, a kind of prophet-hero who gives us hope to get an answer from the Russian government to bring Raoul home. We initiate this request, in front of the Parliament of the Jewish People to solve one of the greatest mysteries of the modern history of mankind. If only one person could save so many, why not believe that so many can save only one.”, said Tenembaum in his speech, before asking the people present for an applause to celebrate Wallenberg’s life.

A moving note was given by Mrs. Lily Levi, saved by Wallenberg when she was only 10 years old. When she knew that Swedish protection passports were handed out at the Swedish consulate in Budapest in 1944 she stood in the long line of people waiting for her turn. When she was about to enter the building the doors closed. ”I started to cry. Suddenly I see the silhouette of a man who approaches and offers to take me to his house so that the following day I could be the first on the line and obtain the visa. That man was Raoul Wallenberg”, said Mrs. Levy crying.

All the speakers stressed Wallenberg’s moral example, of very important implications for the Israeli society. His figure, they pointed out, must be incorporated to the official teaching program in schools. Wallenberg is a living example of solidarity, civic courage and respect for human rights.

The concentration ended with the singing of Israel’s National anthem,”Hatikvah”.