For the 75 years of the liberation of Auschwitz, Netanyahu and Putin stage their proximity

At the Yad Vashem memorial, January 20, 2020.
At the Yad Vashem memorial, January 20, 2020. Emmanuel Dunand / AFP

Without anyone fully predicting it in Jerusalem, Russian President Vladimir Putin has carved out a place of honor at the Yad Vashem memorial, where some 40 heads of state and government participate in the World Forum the holocaust, Thursday, January 23. The Israeli presidency had inscribed these commemorations in the fight against a global resurgence of anti-Semitic acts, while the memory of the Shoah will soon be perpetuated without its survivors.

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To maintain this agenda, she is forced to ignore that Mr. Putin has chosen Israel as a platform and an objective ally in the standoff that he has engaged with Poland and other central European countries (Ukraine , Lithuania), all leading to varying degrees nationalist and mutually exclusive rewrites of the Second World War.

Strong criticism from historians

Israel denies it, but has not found a better way out of this crisis than to let Polish President Andrzej Duda give up on going to Jerusalem for failing to open the speaker's gallery. The Yad Vashem memorial had favored an already long list, which partly overlaps with the international post-war order: the Russian, American, British and French allies, plus Germany.

This withdrawal takes place while relations between Israel and Poland remain marked by another quarrel of memory. The nagging one, provoked by a law voted by the ultranationalist majority in Warsaw in January 2018, which penalized the questioning of the Polish nation or state for "Crimes against humanity Committed during the Second World War. This text had been amended five months later after a compromise with the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

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The latter had in turn attracted sharp criticism from historians, who accused him of bowing to an effacement of Polish collaboration with the Nazi occupier. Mr. Netanyahu had then chosen to favor the present. In other words, the ongoing rapprochement with the nationalist governments of the Visegrad group (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia). He considers these countries to be a brake on European Union initiatives deemed hostile to Israel, such as the mandatory labeling of food products made in settlements in the occupied West Bank, on which the European Court of Justice legislated in November 2019.

Maintain a dialogue

Anxious not to rekindle these differences, the Israeli authorities recall that the president, Reuven Rivlin, will travel to Auschwitz on January 27 for the Polish commemorations of the 75e anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi camp. As for the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, he stages his proximity to Mr. Putin. Basically, it is about maintaining a dialogue with Moscow on Iran and Syria, where the Russian army has mastery of the air and lets the Israeli air force regularly bombard pro-Iranian targets.


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