In a new spurt of anti-semitism, a Jewish cemetery was desecrated to strengthen moves for the construction of a conference center in Vilnius. On the eve of the Jewish Sabbath, Friday, 1 May 2020, hundreds of empty chairs affixed with fake Euro notes, were scattered over the cemetery and used as a platform to launch a message from the National Tourism Business Association (NTVA), the Lithuanian Hotel and Restaurant Association (LVRA) and the Lithuanian Tourism Association (LTA). The intended message behind the desecration was an attempt to highlight the importance of constructing the conference centre on the cemetery, a resting place for tens of thousands of Jewish souls. The move violates even the most basic tenets of human rights, that which affords burial grounds respect and protection. The struggle to protect the Jewish cemetery is comprehensively articulated on the web site: savevilna.org
The cemetery was previously purchased freehold, by members of the Jewish community, to facilitate the creation of burial plots for tens of thousands of families. Amongst those interred on the holy site are the Torah sages, the Vilna Gaon and HaRav Avraham Danzig, author of the Chaya Adam.
The entities behind the desecration are the NTVA, LVRA and LTA, which were set up to promote tourism in Lithuania. This latest act of impiety in the name of economic prosperity is unprecedented in the post Second World War era, in which case a government supported body, openly desecrates a Jewish cemetery. Accordingly, Jewish and Christian groups are considering an international boycott of tourism in Lithuania. Broad international opposition to the desecration of Jewish graves and the respective stance taken by the Lithuanian Government and its proxies, has already been tabled.