Israel and Poland continued a diplomatic skirmish Thursday following Senate ratification in Warsaw of a bill that would outlaw assigning blame to Poland for Holocaust crimes committed in Poland.
A day after a bipartisan move in the Knesset to criminalize Holocaust denial or diminishing of the role of collaborators with the Nazis in perpetrating the Holocaust and after Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki agreed to address Israeli concerns before finalizing the language of the bill, some senior Israeli diplomats asked Netanyahu, who is also Israel’s foreign minister, to recall Ambassador Anna Azari from Warsaw in protest.
“The law passed in Poland is severe and embodies a removal of Polish responsibility for their part in the Jewish Holocaust,” said Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz Thursday, calling for Netanyahu to pull the ambassador. “In the balance between diplomatic considerations and moral considerations, there must be a clear preference to honor the memory of the Holocaust victims above all other considerations,” he added.
Opposition MK and head of the Yesh Atid Party Yair Lapid also continued campaigning against the Polish law, Tweeting on Thursday that “no Polish law can change history. We will never forget.”
Labor Party MK Itzik Shmuli added that “History will judge Poland twice – once for their part in the vile crime, and once again for the despicable attempt to deny it.”
Emmanuel Nahshon, The spokesman for the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs conveyed a similar message via Twitter, writing that “The State of Israels strongly objects to the Polish senate’s decision. Israel views any attempt to undermine the historical truths very seriously. No law will change the facts.”
Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, emphasized the fact that the phrase “Polish death camps” is erroneous because the concentration and extermination camps in Poland. But they added that censorship is not the way a democracy combats historical revisionism.
“The correct way to combat these historical misrepresentations is not by criminalizing these statements but by reinforcing educational activities,” Yad Vashem said in a statement. “(Extermination camps) were built and operated by the Germans in Nazi-occupied Poland with the express purpose of murdering and annihilating the Jews of Europe within the framework of the ‘Final Solution.”
The law passed last night is “liable to blur historical truths due to limitations it places on expressions regarding the complicity of segments of the Polish population in crimes against Jews committed by its own people, either directly or indirectly, on Polish soil during the Holocaust,” the group said.