I'd like to immediately turn to the poll that we were discussing in the Last edition of Opinion where only 13% of Europeans believed that the Soviet Army played a key part in the liberation of the Europe in the Second World War. Is the situation in Israel different?
Avigdor Eskin: The situation is very different it's different to the extent that during the 50’s I would say the balance of objectivity in Israel was rather on the Soviet side. You could not see any kind of distortion of World War 2 history in Israel, and if you could it would be benefitting the Soviet Union because there were many people who came from the Soviet Union and many people were saved by the Red Army. Most of the Holocaust survivors were saved by the Red Army. And they are live witnesses up until now. So it never happened in Israel anything like in Europe, nothing undermining the Russian part in the Second World War. Rather on the contrary they appreciated to the extent that people forgot that the American, British people and others also joined affords in this victory. And yet a lot of people came from the Soviet Union directly apart from the Holocaust victims, over a million people in fact. And their views are very different from the ones expressed in Europe today.
Up until the 90’s the Second World War was a big part of the existence of Israel, but was mostly perceived as the Holocaust. The Jews suffered 6 million victims, no one else suffered as much. Although you have 4 mln Russian prisoners that also perished in German concentration camps. And it’s also one of the terrible atrocities of the Second World War.
But the victory was somehow neglected to the second place, whereas now with this coming alias from the Soviet Union we have celebration in Israel in every city. Like this year we have on Thursday and Friday people marching in every city in Israel where there is any Russian population, not only in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Haifa.
There are 39 memorials commemorating those who were responsible for this great victory, 39 memorials for the soldiers of the Red Army primarily. You don't have anything like this in any other parts of the world. So today together with the Holocaust there is a memory of the great victory in Israel combined together. For Israelis who are sensitive and vulnerable people it’s not only 6 million victims but it's also the creation of the State of Israel. History was written in such unfortunate way that out of Auschwitz we got the State of Israel.
Let’s turn to Western media now, where they are comparing Vladimir Putin to Hitler. In your opinion is it a matter of ignorance or something else?
Avigdor Eskin: I think it's the matter of a new mood in the West to rewrite the history of the Second World War. And not to leave Russia with anything but the Stalin regime which is by the way very controversial to say the least. Putin has nothing to do with any sort of aggression that could remind Adolf Hitler, and if anyone who annexed some territory in this or the other way would be compared to Hitler than any successful president or prime minister of any significant country would be compared to Hitler. I mean it's so ridiculous it's so terribly stupid that one probably shouldn't even comment on that. And it's really like denying the Holocaust or rewriting the Second World War history. Because if Hitler was as bad as Putin then he would keep all of the civil liberties never attack any country, etcetera. When we compare any leader be it even Barack Obama sometimes – to Hitler we undermine the amount of terror and evil done by the Nazi Germany. And when we do it we falsify the mood of the great victory. This is something that should never be done.
Israeli singer Amir-Ben-Ayun has sharply criticized Barack Obama. Compared him to Hitler.
Avigdor Eskin: I think it's another example of bad language and ignorance, because Ben-Ayun meant good, he wanted to emphasize some discrepancies of Obamas policy. And yet again Obama should not be compared to Hitler no way. He has different agenda he has different goals different ideology and he doesn't send people to gas chambers. With all disrespect to what Obama did in Afghanistan in Iraq, Libya and now Ukraine — one should never compare him to Hitler. When the absolute evil becomes usual thing then there's no absolute evil and Israel is usually very careful in such comparisons and it's unfortunate that people make it cheap by using this kind of language. Obama is not a friend of Israel and not a friend of Russia he should be criticized. As well as the American Embassy should be criticized for interfering in this incident. Because Obama is called names like Hitler in America on a daily basis. And he's criticized very sharply in the United States. Including comparison to Hitler and then the Americans who sit in the embassy in Israel think that they can teach Israel how to treat a certain singer when he took advantage of freedom of speech and pushed it probably too far.
From this conversation I realized that Israel would join Russia in efforts to contain the falsification of the Second World War history, am I right?
Avigdor Eskin: This is what we do when Israel supported Russia in the United Nations and yes — Israel is keeping the memory of Holocaust and now Israel will join Russian efforts to keep this memory of the special role of the Red Army in this victory.
It is impossible for you to be in two places on the Victory Day but if you choose where would you be?
Avigdor Eskin: I will be here in Israel because I'm a citizen of Israel and it is where I belong to. I will take my children to the events of this great victory. I have to be with my people. I have to be with my people here to remind them that the fact that our state, the State of Israel came into being has to do a lot with those who won the Second World War, and first of all with the Russians.