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

Jan. 31 2020

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.

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Read more at JNS

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

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy