Putin failure to mention Jews in Auschwitz speech upsets Israel

By David Horovitz January 25, 2005

(With Herb Keinon)

Israeli officials were miffed that Russian President Vladimir Putin, during his speech at Auschwitz, never mentioned the Jews who were murdered there.

‘It’s incredible,’ said one official, voicing his dismay that Putin mentioned the 600,000 Russian soldiers who died liberating Poland, and the 27 million Soviets killed during the war, but not the 1.3 million Jews killed at Auschwitz.

One senior official in Jerusalem, who was unaware that Putin didn’t mention Jews during his speech at Auschwitz, advised against looking for too much meaning in this omission. ‘He has proven more determined in his policy against anti-Semitism than any other Russian leader,’ the official said. ‘We should judge him by what he does, rather than by what he says.’

Earlier in the day, at a speech he delivered at an international forum in Krakow, Putin said he was shamed by manifestations of anti-Semitism in Russia and vowed to confront such bigotry ‘by force and public opinion.’

‘We all of us must say together that no one can remain indifferent towards the acts of anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racial intolerance,’ he said. ‘Even in Russia, the country that did the most to defeat Nazism and liberate the Jews, we can often see the manifestations of that disease. We are ashamed by them,’ he said.

Putin was the only eastern European leader to use Thursday morning’s gathering at Krakow Theater to acknowledge ongoing anti-Semitism in his country. He was also the only speaker to draw an explicit link from Nazism to modern terrorism. Modern civilization ‘is confronting another threat in place of Nazism,’ he said. Today’s terrorists also neglect human life, strive for manic purposes and are ready to murder anybody. Modern civilization will be safeguarded, he said, ‘only if we can unite against that new common enemy.’

That was the task for politicians and statesmen for the 21st century, he said.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger also drew a direct line from Nazism to modern terrorism – specifically Palestinian terrorism.

‘Our enemies continue to pursue us, even in the Holy Land of Israel,’ Metzger said, ‘and we have seen survivors of the fire of Auschwitz slaughtered together with their families on Seder nights in Netanya, children murdered on buses on their way to school, entire families murdered in restaurants, in cars, and in the streets.’

As with the victims of Nazism, the lives of these, 1,000-plus innocent victims of Palestinian terrorism were taken solely because they were Jews, Metzger said. He said that only a ‘strong sovereign Jewish state can guarantee that Auschwitz will not happen again. The State of Israel is the true response to the evil of Auschwitz.’

Metzger also announced the introduction of a new educational program, a joint initiative by the European Jewish Congress and Yad Vashem, for teachers on the Holocaust and its lessons.

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