On Tuesday Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip will visit Yad Vashem. His itinerary includes a tour of the Holocaust History Museum, a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance and a visit to the Children’s Memorial.
The trip draws into focus Estonia’s history on Holocaust remembrance, including a controversy earlier this year surrounding the recognition of former Waffen SS officers.
According to Dovid Katz, a human rights activist, Algemeiner blogger and editor of defendinghistory.com, Estonia’s position is more-or-less similar to that of many Eastern European countries, who rightly view Stalin’s Soviet regime as evil and hold those who fought his regime as heroes. The problem, many say, is that some of those nationalists were Nazi collaborators and vicious anti-Semites.
For his part Ansip has denied any systemic anti-Semitism in Estonia, telling a group of Jewish organizations on 2011, “There has never been any anti-Semitism in Estonia at the state level. Even with the Estonian people, who suffered terribly under totalitarian regimes over the years, anti-Semitism and racism are simply not in their nature.”
“Of course Israel needs to engage constructively the East European countries that have been supportive of Israel. That goes without saying. But Israel can do so without giving something it must not give: supposed legitimacy to the revision of Holocaust history that the Baltic states are pursuing with such zeal (and money). They are trying effectively to write the Holocaust out of history with a new bogus model of ‘two equal genocides, Nazi and Soviet’ without denying a single death,” Katz told The Algemeiner.
Katz continued: “In the case of Estonian officials visiting Jerusalem, the simplest solution is to also invite Dr. Efraim Zuroff, head of the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, to be on hand to offer a polite rebuttal to the revisionist models, which incidentally have deep roots in East European antisemitism.”