Israeli UN envoy: Eastern Europeans need to do more against anti-Semitism

Netanyahu courting countries for friendly bloc in EU, but Danny Danon says Jerusalem expects pro-Israel stances to be accompanied by stronger fight against Jew hatred

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon is accompanied by fellow UN ambassadors during a tour of the Majdanek extermination camp in Poland, January 30, 2019. (Courtesy of American Zionist Movement)
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon is accompanied by fellow UN ambassadors during a tour of the Majdanek extermination camp in Poland, January 30, 2019. (Courtesy of American Zionist Movement)

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations said Thursday that the country appreciates the support of its newfound allies in Eastern Europe but expects “stronger actions” from them when it comes to their stance against anti-Semitism.

Danny Danon said the former communist nations have played a key role in blocking anti-Israel measures in the European Union and other international forums. But he said they had to improve their approach toward Jews and accurately portray the memory of the Holocaust.

“When we meet them, we tell them: ‘We are grateful for your involvement. We want to continue the cooperation. But at the same time when it comes to domestic issues, you have to take stronger action,'” he told reporters in Jerusalem. “We do expect stronger actions when it comes to anti-Semitism.”

Danon is in Israel heading a delegation of fellow ambassadors to the UN after making a stop with them in Poland. Along with Lithuania, Ukraine, Hungary and others, it is among those swept up in a wave of World War II-era revisionism that seeks to diminish their culpability in the Holocaust while making heroes out of anti-Soviet nationalists involved in the mass killing of Jews.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) meets with Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis in Jerusalem, January 29, 2019 (Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)

Danon’s comments come just days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended a warm welcome to Lithuania’s prime minister, in his latest embrace of an Eastern European leader who has offered strong political support for Israel while promoting a distorted image of the Holocaust. In Israel, established in the wake of the Nazi genocide of six million Jews, many critics say Netanyahu is cynically betraying the victims’ memory.

Next month, Israel is set to host the prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary for a meeting of the so-called Visegrad Group.

Warsaw recently passed a law that critics say whitewashes Poland’s role in the Nazi’s extermination of European Jewry. The country later softened the legislation, which makes it illegal to blame the Polish nation for Nazi crimes, after negotiations with Netanyahu’s government.

Netanyahu has also been pilloried for defending Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who has been chastised for his efforts to rehabilitate the reputation of Hungarian wartime leader Miklos Horthy, who deported hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths.

Critics say Netanyahu — who often invokes the Holocaust when inveighing against archrival Iran — turns a blind eye when it comes to like-minded allies.

For such countries, the warm embrace of the Israeli leader provides a strong defense against accusations of anti-Semitism while also strengthening ties with a close US ally.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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