Seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we are left with no choice but to admit that Israel, the state of the Jews, is willing to sell the memory of the Holocaust to the highest bidder. The last time it was Poland, now it’s Putin.
It’s regrettable, albeit unsurprising, that neither historical accuracy, the memory of the victims nor even the lessons for the future drive Israel’s policy. Narrow, momentary, political and diplomatic interests determine its agenda, even regarding the tragedy of the people it claims to represent.
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Israel, which was founded three years after the liberation of Auschwitz, has been revealed as spineless, and as being forced – or consenting – to bend to the interests of other nations and leaders, and to sell the memory of the Holocaust as it does so.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in his addresses in Jerusalem on Thursday frequently invoked “the truth,” forgot to mention that truth is an elusive, capricious concept, and that historical reality isn’t always black or white, good versus evil. It is true that the Soviet Union liberated Auschwitz 75 years ago, but the Soviet Union also signed the pact with Nazi Germany that paved the way to the outbreak of World War II six years earlier, a war of which Auschwitz was one result.
Anyone who wants to talk about “the truth” cannot only praise and exalt the Soviet Union for its heroism. In this context it can also be admitted that the decision – whose exactly is unclear – not to allow Polish President Andrzej Duda to address the gathering at Yad Vashem, prompting him to snub the event. If no other representative, including the two Israeli leaders who spoke at the ceremony – President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – saw fit to note that the Soviet Union wasn’t only a liberator but also an occupier, not only a freedom fighter but also an oppressor, at the very least they should have let the Polish president “dirty himself” in this historical truth.
But Poland also fails to see the entire “truth,” as has been noted more than once in these pages. In September, when Poland commemorated the 80th anniversary of the start of the war, the narrative that ran through all of the ceremonies and public gatherings was one of victimization. None of the speakers, including the foreign dignities who were invited, mentioned the collaboration of Poles with the Germans. Everyone, without exception, talked about Poland’s having been the first and the greatest victim of the Nazis.