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Holocaust scholars slam Netanyahu's deal with the devil

Historians warn the upcoming summit of the Visegrad Group in Jerusalem is a cynical play by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ally himself with human rights abusers and Holocaust deniers for political gain.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a joint statment, at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem,  July 19, 2018.  Debbie Hill/Pool via Reuters - RC13F129AE70
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Just over 18 months after starring at the leadership summit of the central European Visegrad Group in July 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will host the leaders of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia Feb. 18-19 in Jerusalem. Even the most hostile of media outlets (which according to Netanyahu include all Israeli journalists and television networks not unconditionally supportive of him), will be forced to cover the unusual event. Which other candidate running for the premiership on April 9 will have his photo taken with four European leaders against the backdrop of Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall? How many of those running can organize such an Israel-supporting coalition of European Union states, so many of which are opposed to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians and advocate human rights? So what if several of them are tainted by anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial? No stain can resist the bleaching effect of a wreath-laying ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

Yair Lapid, the chair of centrist Yesh Atid and a second-generation Holocaust survivor, was the only senior politician to speak out against the hosting of the summit in Israel. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had pushed through legislation degrading to victims of the Holocaust, he said. When this law was first debated in Poland in 2016, Yehuda Bauer, the pre-eminent Holocaust historian who serves as an academic adviser to Yad Vashem, told Haaretz that the legislation bordered on Holocaust denial. Lapid also pointed to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who had engaged last year in a campaign bordering on anti-Semitism. “This is a loss of all national pride and international damage,” he tweeted Jan. 28. Lapid urged Netanyahu to curb his “lust” for campaign photo ops and forego hosting the summit. Nonetheless, let us not forget that Lapid himself was silent over reports of Israeli arms sales to despicable regimes accused of war crimes.

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