The skaters swirled over the Russian ice rink, their beaming faces and frolicking glides betraying the memory of six million Jews murdered and incinerated in the Nazi death camps of World War II. Adding insult to sacrilege, the duo dazzled before national television cameras, even as they wore the striped outfits of inmates, complete with yellow Stars of David every Jew was forced to wear as a sub-species far worse than lepers.
The joyous couple spun in movements created by a Jewish choreographer, Ilya Averbukh, who stoutly insisted afterwards, “this routine was my idea.” He even claimed sole credit for dressing the skaters in the loathsome uniforms and stigmata of yellow Magen Davids.
Reacting to the worldwide outrage, Averbukh, a silver medallist at the 2002 Olympics, was petulantly dismissive.” I would call all this reaction a sign of the craziness of today,” he shot back.
That a Jew, of all people, should be guilty of such unspeakable provocation did not weaken his stance. The outrage following the televised performance, was, he said, “unwarranted.”
Ilya Averbukh deludes himself. He reminds me of the anti-Semites who flooded the television monitors with 2,780 filthy slanders against Jews during my nationally televised speech at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. recently, when I spoke on my new book, Our Crime Was Being Jewish, in which hundreds of Holocaust survivors describe the atrocities they saw and endured in the death camps of Europe.
Just as Russian officials jumped to the defense of the ice-skating spectacle, so too did one anti-Semite from California, whom I chose to reply to after he wrote of the tendency of Jews to appropriate the Holocaust to themselves, when Russians had died in many more numbers during World War II.
Before cutting off correspondence with this committed Jew-baiter, I told him that Jews alone were singled out for death under the Final Solution, and that the Nuremberg laws introduced in the 1930s discriminated solely against Jews in their livelihoods and rights. I also reminded him that millions of armed Russian troops were killed on the battlefields and not in concentration camp crematoria.
Nothing can justify the abhorrent display of smiling skaters garbed in death camp stripes and detestable yellow stars below numbers that represented tattoos on arms.
Seconds into the appalling show, the two skaters faced each and broke into happy smiles, expressions that were alien to the slave laborers and skeletal survivors of the Holocaust. Revulsion intensified among critics worldwide when it was learned that the female skater, Tatiana Navka, was the spouse of Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, and that her rink partner was an actor, Andrei Burkovsky. They twirled ecstatically to music from the award-winning Holocaust movie, Life is Beautiful.
It is galling to hear a Jewish choreographer self-righteously defend himself from charges of blasphemy and tastelessness. A Jew who would so blithely offend the memory of slaughtered innocents is surely the quintessential self-hating Jew.
Anthony S. Pitch, a journalist in five countries, is the author of 12 non-fiction books including Our Crime Was Being Jewish.