Netanyahu: Israel Expects Countries to Tell Truth about Holocaust, Including Poland

Feb 07, 2018, 01:03
Netanyahu: Israel Expects Countries to Tell Truth about Holocaust, Including Poland

But in an unusual move, President Andrzej Duda also said Tuesday he will ask the country's constitutional court to evaluate the bill and suggest possible amendments.

It says that "whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich ... shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years".

It would also ban the use of terms such as "Polish death camps" in relation to Auschwitz and other such camps located in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Of the 3.2 million Jews who lived in Poland before World War II, over three million were killed under the Nazi regime.

The State Department had warned last week that such a law could have "repercussions" on Poland's relationship with the United States.

The current Polish government is guilty of believing that you can legislate in too many areas of social life and that you can force people to be historically accurate; this is likely to be a gross misstep.

Polish officials have long argued a Holocaust speech law is needed to fight expressions like "Polish death camps" for the Nazi camps where Jews and others were exterminated. "Israel and Poland hold a joint responsibility to research and preserve the history of the Holocaust", the Israeli government said in a statement on Twitter.

In a speech on Tuesday, Mr Duda said the bill "protects the Polish interests... protects our dignity, the historical truth, so that we could be judged fairly in the world, so that we would not be slandered as a state and as a nation".

Duda can also choose to send the bill back to parliament or seek an opinion on it from the Constitutional Tribunal.

Azari told the commercial Radio Zet station on Monday that after Poland's Senate adopted the bill on Thursday she "had signals" she may be withdrawn but that "now I don't know".

"Yes, the death camps in Poland were built and operated by the Germans, and we can not allow them to evade responsibility for these actions", Bennett said.

Jan Grabowski, a historian at the University of Ottawa in Canada who studies Polish violence against Jews during the war, called Duda's signing of the law "further proof that the nationalists now in power in Poland will do anything to cater to the hard, right-wing core of their electorate".

Some risked their lives and those of their families to shelter Jews; almost 7,000 have been recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center.

After having his upcoming trip to Warsaw cancelled by the Polish government on Monday due to his strong criticism of the law, Israel's hard-right education minister, Naftali Bennet, said he was "honored".

But he said the Polish state bore no responsibility because it ceased to exist following the invasion by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Initially, when the education ministry announced his visit, Bennett said he was "determined to say explicitly [what] history has already proved - the Polish nation had a proven involvement in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust".

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