Israel urges Poland to change bill regarding its role in Nazi Holocaust

Shaul de Malach

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday voiced his opposition to a draft Polish law that would criminalize statements suggesting that Poland bears responsibility for the Holocaust.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki responded on Saturday night to the controversy surrounding the bill outlawing any reference to the Nazi death camps in the country as being Polish.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, noting that exactly 73 years had passed since the Auschwitz death camp on Polish soil was liberated, cited the words of a former Polish president about how history could not be faked and the truth could not be hidden.

Polish government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcinska wrote on Twitter that the legislation aimed "to show the truth about the bad crimes committed on Poles, Jews, and other nations that were in the 20th century victims of brutal totalitarian regimes―German Nazi regime and Soviet communism". "There were Polish death camps and no law can ever change that".

To which Lapid retorted with outrage and a demand for an apology: "I am a son of a Holocaust survivor".

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennet has instructed schools to dedicate two hours in the upcoming week to learn about the complicity of "Europe nations, including the Poles" in the Holocaust. "One can not change history and the Holocaust can not be denied". We live with the consequences every day in our collective memory.

"I strong oppose it. history can not be changed, and the Holocaust must not be denied", he said, adding that he had instructed Israel's envoy to Warsaw, Anna Azari, to meet the Polish prime minister to convey a "firm stand" against the law.

The lower house of the Polish parliament on Friday passed the bill, which prescribes prison time for using phrases such as "Polish death camps" to refer to the killing sites Nazi Germany operated in occupied Poland during World War II.

"Every crime, every offense must be condemned, denounced, must be examined and exposed", he said, according to his spokesman. The bill also condemns the denial of the massacre of about 100,000 Polish by UPA units during the Second World War, a move likely to increase tensions with neighboring Ukraine.

"My grandmother was murdered in Poland by Germans and Poles", he wrote.

While Netanyahu and the Foreign Ministry came out sharply against the law, a joint statement issued by Israel and Poland in Jerusalem in November 2016 following a government-to-government meeting opposed the use of the term "Polish death camps".

However, it expressed concern about the legislation because it could "blur the historical truth about the assistance the Germans received from the Polish population during the Holocaust". "It is also a historical fact that Germans initiated it", said Bennet.



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