​No one can ignore Russia’s role in defeating the Nazis - Shimon Peres

Former Israeli president Shimon Peres.(Reuters / Ruben Sprich)
Former Israeli PM Shimon Peres has praised the Russians for crushing the Nazis in World War II. His comments came during a new holiday on the Jewish religious calendar - the “Day of Salvation and Liberation,” commemorating victory over Nazi Germany.

“Anything can be said about Russia, but nobody can ignore its enormous contribution to the victory,” Shimon Peres, Israel’s Nobel Prize-winning former prime minister and president, said in a video address to delegates at an international conference in Moscow.

He added: “The Jews are grateful to the Red Army and the Russian people,” reminding the audience there were half a million Jews in the Red Army, many of whom sacrificed their lives for the victory.

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Peres’s address comes as Jewish communities in Israel, Russia, the US, France, Germany and elsewhere are for the first time ever celebrating what’s already been dubbed “Jewish Victory Day”. The Day of Salvation and Liberation has made it to the list of Jewish religious holidays after an initiative by the vice president of the Russian Jewish Congress was picked up and endorsed by top rabbis in Israel and across Europe.

Due to the nature of the Jewish calendar, the holiday will be “floating” year on year. This time it falls on May 15, which is six days after the secular celebration of Victory Day.

The traditional Victory Day festivities on May 9 in Moscow became a real apple of discord for world leaders before they even started. Many Western politicians who were invited to the Russian capital for the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II decided to boycott the celebration.

One of the international leaders who refused to attend was current Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. However, shortly before May 9, while addressing World War II veterans in Israel, Netanyahu emphasized it was the Red Army which liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps.

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