from the AFP via EJP | European Jewish News:
Lithuanian and Israeli experts on Wednesday failed to resolve an old row over whether a pre-World War II Jewish cemetery in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius has been desecrated by new buildings. The findings of separate and independent archaeological and radar studies released Wednesday by the two sides proved contradictory.
According to Lithuanian archaeologists quoted in statement issued Wednesday by Lithuania's culture ministry, no graves were found beyond the existing location of the Snipiskes Jewish cemetery. Israeli experts, however, disagree. "During their excavations, Lithuanian archaeologists did not find graves or traces of graves", rather only "scattered human bones not in anatomical position," the statement said. But Israeli experts insist radar tests found graves beyond the cemetery's existing limits. "The main results of the geophysical survey show graves at the correct alignment (north-west to south-east) and at the relevant depths, further south than any of the previous maps, including those of the Historical Institute,"
Israeli experts announced.
They believe their new findings strengthen "the conclusion of the Experts Group from May 2007 that the King Mindaugas buildings were erected within the boundaries of the Snipiskes Jewish cemetery." Lithuanian authorities argue such radar studies cannot be considered conclusive. Archaeological digs launched in June in the direct vicinity of the Snipiskes cemetery were aimed at resolving the row over whether buildings in the area desecrated it.
First announced in 2005, the building project drew protest from Jewish groups in the United States, where in February the US Congress criticised the project and Lithuania's alleged failure to protect historic sites.
The Snipiskes Jewish cemetery operated between the 16th and 19th centuries. Prior to World War II, Lithuania boasted a 220,000-strong Jewish community. Vilnius was a centre for Jewish culture -- sometimes called the Jerusalem of the north -- attracting Yiddish intellectuals and writers. Ninety-five percent of Lithuania's Jews perished in the Holocaust. Currently there are 4,000 Jews living in Lithuania, a former Soviet Baltic republic that joined the European Union in 2004.