Co-staging provocation, preserving narrative

The Times article Poland to boycott Jerusalem Holocaust ceremony amid row over Russia rewriting history by Catherine Philip, January 23 2020. My comment.

Lech Borkowski

There are two issues deliberately mixed here with the intention to confuse.

1 Holocaust memorial day. Day of reflection and remembrance.
2 Polish-Russian relations.

Issue 2, in the main, has little to do with issue 1. However, the situation was arranged, or shall we say ‘staged’, to try to make a mess and to try to create an impression that issue 2 is chained to issue 1. Hence the noise on theme 2 in the context of theme 1.

This trick is a political bread-and-butter, at least in Communist countries. It is called provocation. Provocation is successful if observers don’t notice it is a scripted spectacle and engage emotionally. It would be useful to notice not only what is being said, but also who and what is not being spoken about.

There are two general interpretations of this attempt to make a mess.

Interpretation 1. Russia and Poland have different interpretations of WWII and their respective roles in it and that is why their leaders disagree. This is the interpretation roughly followed by the media, including The Times. No surprises here. Round up the usual suspects.

Interpretation 2. Leaders of Russia and Poland try to preserve the Communist narrative of WWII as much as possible and collaborate in creating the row, without revealing anything interesting. They try to preserve the status quo of the dominant WWII narrative.

In fact, if Polish leaders were independent from Moscow, they would follow a different plan of historical action. The way they act means that they are either (a) idiots, or (b) subservient to Moscow. I say option (b) is the correct interpretation of this pseudo-row.

Summing up, this is not about who is for or against something, but about the narrative they operate in.

Since this is the Holocaust memorial day, the attention should be focused on the victims. This is about them, not about Polish or Russian leaders. Attempts to make it into something else are a provocation.