In Their Spat over the Memory of the Holocaust, Poland and Russia Race to the Bottom

At last week’s commemoration in Jerusalem of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Polish delegation was conspicuously absent. The Polish president, Andrzej Duda, boycotted the event because his Russian counterpart had been asked to give a speech but he had not, and also on the grounds that the ceremony, which is normally held at the site of the death camp, shouldn’t have been moved to Jerusalem. To Melanie Phillips this incident demonstrates how Jews and Israel have been caught in the crossfire of competing Polish and Russian efforts at historical revisionism:

Russia and Poland [are now] accusing one another of facilitating or standing idly by Hitler’s assault on Europe and the slaughter of the Jews. The Soviet Union may have made its infamous pact with Germany in 1939 merely as a defensive measure, as Vladimir Putin has implied. And the Soviet Union was critical to the eventual defeat of Hitler. Nevertheless, that pact gave Hitler the confidence to start a world war by invading Poland. The Polish government believes that Putin’s main motive in provoking this row is to weaken Polish influence in the European Union.

If Putin, however, was being cynical, Poland’s revisionism has been egregious. . . . It is extraordinarily offensive to claim that the state of Israel, which arose from the ashes of the Holocaust, should have no role in commemorating the liberation of the most infamous of the Nazi extermination camps.

Such arrogance is of a piece with Poland’s appalling historical revisionism. True, its history is complex. The Poles were indeed badly victimized by the Nazis, forming the second-largest group murdered in the extermination camps. They also suffered greatly from Soviet oppression. . . . It’s also the case that more Christian Poles have been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous among the Nations for risking their lives to aid Jews during the Nazi period than citizens of any other country in Europe. But . . . there were also Poles who helped the Germans hunt down Jews and kill them.

[W]hat Poland goes to such lengths to deny is that [its] culture has always been riddled with anti-Semitism, due in large measure to the primitive prejudices promulgated by the Catholic Church. . . . This Auschwitz row is effectively holding the memory of the Jewish dead hostage to international politics. It tells us yet again that, despite such commemorations, too many still regard the Jews as little more than a troublesome and even despised impediment to their own agendas.

Read more at JNS

More about: Holocaust remembrance, Israel, Poland, Russia, Yad Vashem

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security