A group of prominent American and Israeli Jewish leaders visited Har Hazeisim this past Friday, as part of the ongoing effort by the International Committee for the Preservation of Har HaZeisim to call attention to the ongoing neglect and abuse of the ancient cemetery.
The group was led by Yuli Edelstein (Likud), Minister of Information and the Diaspora, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Mr. Hoenlein is a prominent member of the International Committee, which is headed by Avrohom Lubinsky, a businessman from Brooklyn, NY. While touring the cemetery and receiving a first-hand report from local activist Arieh King, the group paid their respects to former Prime Minister Menachem Begin who is amongst the many notable Jews buried in the cemetery.
This visit to Har Hazeisim comes on the heels of several recent comments and visits by American political figures. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee recently visited the site and expressed his outrage over its dismal condition and current NY Congressman Jerrold Nadler recently addressed his concerns regarding Har Hazeitim to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in Washington, DC. Both support the efforts of the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeisim.
Other organizations that partook in the annual mission of the Presidents Conference and who visited Har HaZeitim included the: American Zionist Movement, National Council of Young Israel, Orthodox Union, World Jewish Congress, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, Hadassah, Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, Zionist Organization of America, National Council of Young Israel Rabbis, Rabbinical Council of America, Emunah Women of America, United Synagogues Conservative Movement, and the American Israel Action Coalition.
Mr. Lubinsky thanked Mr. Hoenlein and Minister Edelstein for leading the tour, expressing hope that the Israeli government would fulfill its commitment to improve security on Ha HaZeitim by installing surveillance cameras, deploying a police garrison, and sealing several roads used by local Arabs to stone Jewish mourners, destroy graves, and desecrate the cemetery.