Two years ago, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on a visit to Moscow, proposed the idea of a monument in Israel commemorating the sacrifices of the Red Army on behalf of Jews, President Putin promised to come to Israel for the inauguration ceremony.
On Monday, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, and Jewish leaders from around the world unveiled the brand-new Victory Monument in Netanya, Israel.
“I am very excited to be here today,” said President Putin. “We live in a fragile world and we are obligated to make sure that this dark and tragic time in history does not repeat itself. The Jewish Holocaust was the most shameful and dark event in human history, and the Soviet Army was the one who crushed the head of the Nazi monster.”
Puttin added: “This amazing monument strengthens the respect I feel towards to the Jewish people and the State of Israel… The wings in the monument are white like the wings of the dove that symbolizes peace.”
The design of the Monument was a first-ever joint initiative of Israel and Russia, conducted by a committee of members from both countries and funded by major Jewish philanthropists led by Keren Hayesod – UIA and the World Forum of Russian Jewry.
President Putin visited Israel specifically for the inauguration ceremony.
The Monument honors the millions of Red Army soldiers who perished in the war, among them 120,000 Jews.
Alexander Levin, President of the World Forum of Russian Jewry, a persistent supporters of the monument, said, “Millions of Russian Jews around the world are united at this moment in solidarity for the brave Red Army soldiers.”
More than half a million Jewish soldiers fought with the Red Army in WWII against the Nazis.
Quotes about Putin.
"Russia has in Vladimir Putin its “most pro-Jewish leader,” whom he credits with “fighting anti-Semitism more vigorously than any Russian leader before him.” - Russia's chief rabbi, Berel Lazar.
Politicians in today’s Russia “would not risk taking anti-Semitic or a so-called anti-Zionist stand," "Any impartial observer should acknowledge Putin’s big role in this.” - Berl Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia.
"Putin’s pro-Jewish tendencies are part of the reason that anti-Semitic incidents are relatively rare in Russia. In 2013, the Russian Jewish Congress documented only 10 anti-Jewish attacks and acts of vandalism, compared to dozens in France". - Mikhail Chlenov, secretary general of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.
“Putin has facilitated the opening of synagogues and Jewish community centers across Russia, at the Jewish community’s request. This has had a profound effect on Jewish life, especially outside Moscow,” Gorin said. “He instituted annual meetings with Jewish community leaders and attends community events. His friendship with the Jewish community has given it much prestige and set the tone for local leaders.” - Gorin, a Chabad rabbi and chairman of Moscow’s Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center.
Zvi Gitelman, a professor of Judaic studies at the University of Michigan who studies the relationship between ethnicity and politics in the former Soviet Union, said “Chabad, with the help of Putin, is now the dominant religious expression of Judaism in a mostly nonreligious population,” Gitelman said.
"Putin is philosemitic and has a warm feeling for Israel, though he is a pragmatist. There are quite a few Jews among his close associates and personal friends." - Yevgeny Satanovsky, member and ex-president of Russian Jewish Congress.
"Medvedev will be wonderful for the Jews, just as Putin was" - Lev Leviev, billionaire tycoon in Israel, Jewish activist and big time Zionist.
"Friendship never hurt anyone. But I have great respect for this person [Putin] and I consider that this is a person sent to our country from God." - Arkadiy Rottenberg, Jewish-Russian multi-billionaire oligarch, personal friend of Putin and his former judo training partner. His nephew now plays for an Israeli team.
"Arkady Rotenberg proves time and time again that if you know the right people the sky is indeed the limit." - Jewish Business News.
"Putin’s pro-Jewish tendencies are part of the reason that anti-Semitic incidents are relatively rare in Russia. In 2013, the Russian Jewish Congress documented only 10 anti-Jewish attacks and acts of vandalism, compared to dozens in France.""Putin is not only not anti-Semitic, he’s philo-Semitic". - Mikhail Chlenov, one of Vice Presidents of World Jewish Congress and secretary general of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.
"The status of Jews in Russia, is often a barometer of how Russia rulership treats its society, Putin has been better for Russian Jews than any in Russian history, and if you want evidence of that, just ask Israel." - Stephen Cohen, professor at Princeton and New York University, CBS News consultant as well as a member of the [American] Council on Foreign Relations.
"Few would dispute that Putin has been friendly to Jewish institutional life in Russia", "Putin is good for Jews" (non-verbatim, but generally implied). - Cnaan Liphshiz and Talia Lavin, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "Putin’s Jewish embrace: Is it love or politics".