Wary of Russian Propaganda Opportunity, Israel Cancels May 9 World War II Veterans Parade
As a result of the war in Ukraine, Israel has decided to cancel this year’s World War II veterans parade in honor of Victory Day on May 9 — a national holiday inaugurated in the former Soviet Union to mark the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.
Pnina Tamano-Shata, the Israeli government’s Minister for Aliyah and Absorption, confirmed on Wednesday that the 2022 parade would not take place due to the “current delicate situation,” according to a report from Newsru, an Israeli news site catering to the country’s Russian-speakers.
Tamano-Shata’s decision was reportedly taken following consultations with veterans organizations in Israel. Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to hold a massive victory parade in Moscow on May 9, sparking fears of even greater intensification of his military campaign as the date approaches. According to Ukrainian sources, more than 20,000 Russian soldiers have already been killed during an invasion that has been depicted by the Kremlin as a “denazification” operation.
Separately, the Ukrainian Embassy in Tel Aviv noted on its Facebook page that Tamano-Shata had met with Ambassador Yevhen Korniychuk on Tuesday, citing her view that “despite the tradition of previous years, this year it was decided to refrain from public events and marches on May 9, in connection with Russian aggression against Ukraine.” Korniychuk had earlier appealed to the Israeli authorities to cancel the May 9 parade. Instead, veterans will gather on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem for a ceremony honoring the contributions of Jewish soldiers and resistance fighters to the victory over Hitler.
Israel became the site of the largest Victory Parade outside of Europe following the aliyah of some 20,000 Red Army veterans after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The first veterans parade was held in 1993, with the event upgraded to the status of an official national holiday by a Knesset vote in 2017.
Tamano-Shata also announced on Wednesday that 15,000 immigrants from the region had arrived in Israel in the eight weeks since the onset of the Russian invasion. The new immigrants are comprised of 8,800 Ukrainians, 5,800 Russians and 400 Belarusians.
“Aliyah is the realization of the Zionist dream,” Tamano-Shata said.