The Holocaust needs to be above politics

Revising history – never again

A RELATIVE of a Holocaust survivor places a flower next to the name of a former concentration camp during a ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A RELATIVE of a Holocaust survivor places a flower next to the name of a former concentration camp during a ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Some things need to be above politics. One of those issues is the Holocaust.
Unfortunately, that did not happen as demonstrated by an official apology issued by Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, for some inaccuracies that were on display during the World Holocaust Forum held in Jerusalem at the end of January.
In a statement to the press, Yad Vashem’s Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research, Prof. Dan Michman, insisted that the institution was “opposed to efforts at obfuscation and distortion by the political discourse in various countries.”
The video in question, “created by the World Holocaust Forum Foundation in cooperation with Yad Vashem,” was entitled “The Holocaust and liberation,” and was shown during the course of the event at Yad Vashem two weeks ago.
The principle issue with the video is that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact signed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union a month before the outbreak of the war, is entirely missing from the narrative of the video.
The agreement was a non-aggression pact which gave the Nazis confidence that they could invade Western Europe without Soviet intervention. The agreement also included a secret protocol that let the Soviet Union invade and annex Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Finland and parts of Poland.
As Jeremy Sharon reported in The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, in addition to omitting the pact, the video also shows a problematic map that simply skips over the historical fact that the Soviet Union occupied Poland and that the Red Army invaded from the east just two weeks after Nazi Germany had invaded from the west.
Yad Vashem said that the videos “do not reflect the complexity of the Holocaust and the war, to which Yad Vashem dedicates its ongoing research, with a critical eye, without bias, and open to new findings.”
So how was it created? That remains unclear although it seems to have been an attempt by Israel to appease Russian President Vladimir Putin who came here to participate in the forum and to inaugurate a new memorial in Jerusalem.
During his visit to Jerusalem, Putin met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as Yaffa Issachar, whose daughter Naama was pardoned by the Russian president and released from prison on Thursday.
While we still don’t know what exactly Israel gave Moscow in return, we do know that Israel has gone out of its way in recent months to adopt the Russian narrative regarding the outbreak of World War II.
Russia and Poland are engaged in a diplomatic and historical row over how the war erupted, what happened to Poland and whether the Red Army really liberated Europe or just replaced Germany as Poland’s occupier.
When Putin landed at Ben Gurion Airport on January 23, he was met by Foreign Minister Israel Katz who reportedly told him that Israel agrees with the Russian narrative.
“As those who were liberated – we know exactly who liberated [us]. We know the historical truth,” Katz told the Russian leader.
The comment carried with it diplomatic significance after Polish President Andrzej Duda canceled his participation in the World Holocaust Forum due to a decision not to let him speak. Duda was not willing to sit through a speech by Putin without the ability to respond.
History will always be a point of contention and as time passes and real witnesses to events pass from this world, events will be more open to examination and historical revisions than before.
But there need to be some red lines which Israel is not willing to cross. WWII history and what happened in Europe during the Holocaust are issues that the Jewish people cannot compromise on and should never agree to revise due to some quick political gain.
The Jewish people’s tragic past is not something that can be turned into a commodity and be traded on the diplomatic stage.
Yad Vashem should be commended for coming clean on the affair. And if there was pressure put on the institution by government officials, the message should be sent out loud and clear – never again.