26 June 2012
In Jerusalem, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder attended a state dinner hosted by Israel’s President Shimon Peres for his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, where he held an extensive discussion on the most important problems in the Middle East, including the Iranian nuclear issue, with senior Russian government officials.
In his dinner speech, Peres highlighted the current conflicts in the Middle East and urged Putin to speak out against the Iranian threat: "I ask of you again: Raise your voice against a nuclear Iran, againstdestroying a people. You know well the depth of sensitivity of the Jewish people when we are threatened with destruction.”
Peres also warned of "a real danger that Syrian chemical weapons will reach the hands of Hezbollah and al-Qaeda; please act with urgency to stop that unacceptable situation." A statement from Peres's office later added: "President Peres presented President Putin with the proposal that Syria will, for two years, be handed over to an Arab League mandate with UN support, until democratic elections can be held in the country.”
Leaders unveil Netanya memorial honoring Red Army
Earlier in the day, at a major event co-sponsored by the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC), the two presidents jointly unveiled a monument in the coastal city of Netanya honoring the Soviet soldiers who freed central and eastern Europe from Nazism and liberated the German death camps in occupied Poland. The dedication was attended by a number of Jewish leaders, including RJC President Yury Kanner, European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor, and World Jewish Congress Secretary General Dan Diker. Also present were some ten Red Army veterans.
“This is an opportunity to thank the Red Army,” said Peres. “Had it not defeated the Nazi beast then it is doubtful we would be standing here today. In World War II the Soviet Union prevented the world from surrendering.” He added: "I am confident that Russia, which defeated fascism, will not allow today's threats to continue. Not the Iranian threat. Not the bloodshed in Syria.”
Putin thanked Peres for his words: “What I just heard has warmed my feelings toward the Jewish people and especially toward Israel,” he said. “I am thankful for everything that has been done to commemorate those who died during World War II.” He said Russia had put an end to the Holocaust, which he called one of the darkest chapters in history.
The Victory Monument was a joint initiative of Israel and Russia implemented by a committee with members from both countries. Its initiators highlighted the fact that it marks the first time that a state has erected a war memorial to honor another state's soldiers. The monument consists of two parts. The first is a tunnel-like passage made of black concrete symbolizing the hardships and sacrifices of the war. It leads to the second part, an open space overlooking the sea where two giants wings made of white marble have been erected.
Over half a million Jews fought in the Soviet Red Army in World War II, and an estimated 120,000 of them were killed.
We welcome any comments you may have on this article.
Comments are moderated and we reserve the right to edit or remove any which are derogatory or offensive.
The WJC is not responsible for the content of any comments.
There are no comments
Fill up the form above and be the first one
Subscribe to our newsletter.