Israeli journo slams Israeli govt. for supporting Putin in WWII row with Poland
An Israeli journalist has said that forced between offending Russia or Poland, Israel was always going to side with Vladimir Putin.
Writing in the Israeli daily Haartz on Wednesday, leading commentator Anshel Pfeffer said: “Every Israeli prime minister, from David Ben-Gurion onward, has made use of a particular Holocaust narrative.”
He added that the European Jewish Congress, "is little more than the personal vanity platform" of its president and co-organiser of the 5th World Holocaust Forum, "a little-known oligarch: billionaire Moshe Kantor (...), who has close ties to both Putin and Netanyahu."
He continued that Kantor "has made it his business over the last decade to criticize every European leader for not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism while lauding Putin.”
In 2015, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the former Nazi German death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau drew world leaders and high-level delegations from 50 countries. Only Russia, which boycotted the event, was absent.
Pfeffer said: "In January 2015, tensions in Eastern Europe over Russia's annexation of Crimea and its invasion of eastern Ukraine the previous year were still at their peak.
“Poland, always suspicious of Russia and firmly rooted in the Western NATO camp, was hardly thrilled at the idea of President Vladimir Putin arriving at the commemoration not only of the camp's liberation, but the start of a traumatic Russian occupation and over 40 years of Kremlin-dominated communist dictatorship.”
This year, Polish President Andrzej Duda, will be notably absent from a parallel event being hosted by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem this Thursday, where Putin will be one of the main speakers.
Pfeffer wrote that for Poland, "Auschwitz is much more than a national symbol of the tragedy that befell it as a nation – the country where World War II broke out and which was occupied for five and a half long years.
“Sandwiched between its two former occupiers Germany and Russia, the suffering of the war years (and then communism) must be kept alive to bolster Poland's standing as a NATO member, but also to justify its contrarian stance within a European Union dominated by Germany.
"Russia engages in its own form of historical revisionism. Unlike the rest of Europe, it dates World War II as having taken place between 1941 and 1945; the first two years, starting in 1939, are conveniently erased from official memory.
"Putin and the Kremlin's vast propaganda network will portray the Red Army only as liberators, airbrushing out of Russian history the two years of collaboration with the Nazis."
According to Pfeffer, Israel currently has two Holocaust narratives. "One is that of the Yad Vashem historians, the national custodians of Holocaust remembrance and research" which "usually strives for historical objectivity and veracity, while putting Jewish suffering during the war and the story of Nazi anti-Semitism in the prewar years at the forefront."
The other one is the narrative "that is politically and diplomatically useful to the Israeli government of the day. Benjamin Netanyahu may be one of the greatest exploiters of the Holocaust for his own political agenda, but he is by no means the first.”