Despite the increased tensions between Israel and Russia this week, a joint pre-Holocaust Remembrance Day event between the Knesset and the Russian Federation Council took place smoothly and as planned Wednesday.
This week, Moscow summoned Israeli Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren after accusing Israel of being responsible for bombing a Syrian airfield and calling Israel’s response to Hamas-led demonstrations by the Gaza border “unacceptable.”
Yet Federation Council chairwoman Valentina Matviyenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, participated in the event along with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and the two avoided the topic. A Knesset source said none of the tension was felt behind the scenes either.
The Russian film Sobibor premiered simultaneously in the Knesset and the upper house of the Russian Parliament a day before Holocaust Remembrance Day. The movie tells the story of Soviet officer Alexander Pechersky, a prisoner of war in the Sobibor extermination camp who led a revolt against the Nazis.
Edelstein said: “I don’t think that there is a similar case in history to what Pechersky did in the Sobibor camp, and we should all remember that we should fight these crimes, even if you’re not a politician or a high-ranking person.
In Sobibor, they did not give up, and under inhumane conditions, they fought to protect the human spirit.”
Matviyenko did refer to Russia’s outrage at former communist countries that have been taking down monuments to the Red Army.
“We see that people are not only trying to hide the cruelty of the Nazis… people are trying to deny the past and not remember those who fought the Nazis,” she said. “We will prevent this at all costs.”
“The film Sobibor, which presents the heroism of the war against the Nazis, will be shown around the whole world and will leave its mark in many countries,” Matviyenko said. “Among those countries are those in which Nazism is rearing its head and fascists are becoming heroes.
I think this is a dangerous phenomenon that must be stopped… This new Nazism can be a threat to all of humanity.”
She also wished Israel well, ahead of its 70th Independence Day.