President Shimon Peres..
(photo credit: ap)
For the third time in as many weeks, President Shimon Peres attended a ceremony on Tuesday honoring heroes of the Red Army.
The latest ceremony took place in Latrun, the country’s military museum. The first event, at Beit Hanassi, was billed as the 20th anniversary of the mass aliya of Soviet Jewry, but this also included veterans of the Red Army. The second ceremony was in Moscow.
Although the war against Hitler was conducted by the allied forces, said Peres, 80 percent of the casualties fell on the Russian front. The heroism of the Red Army and the readiness of the USSR to make enormous sacrifices enabled the conquest of the Nazis, he declared.
“Russia was Hitler’s geopolitical target, and the extermination of the Jews was his ideological target,” the president said, adding that of the Jewish soldiers who served the Red Army, more than 200,000 laid down their lives.
Jews contributed not only to the military might of Russia, but also to
its culture, Peres said. He noted that 157 Jews had received Russia’s
highest military decorations and 24 Russian Jews were Nobel Prize
The immigration from the former Soviet Union, he said, had completely
changed the fate of the nation: One million immigrants had made a
tremendous impact on science, culture and the arts. Peres acknowledged
that there had been severe flaws in the absorption of these immigrants
into mainstream Israeli society, but was confident that the future
would be brighter for their children.
There are more native Russian speakers in Israel today than in any
other country outside Russia, he said, adding that Israel would
continue its efforts to attract another half-million Russian Jews who
initially opted for the United States and Germany.