Jewish American leader criticizes Polish law

Katrina Barker
February 7, 2018

The legislation allows the government to jail anyone who, "publicly and against the facts", suggests Polish involvement in Nazi war crimes committed during World War II.

The legislation, which still needs the president's signature to take effect, was introduced by Poland's governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party to stop people from erroneously describing Nazi German death camps as being Polish, simply due to their geographical location.

It has caused a diplomatic crisis with Israel, which fears it will enable Poland to whitewash the role of Poles who killed or denounced Jews during the German occupation of Poland during World War II.

The United States also strongly opposed the legislation, warning that it could hurt Poland's strategic relations with both Israel and the U.S. However, he said he would send it to Poland's Constitutional Tribunal for further discussion.

The office of Polish President Andrzej Duda says the leader will on Tuesday announce his decision on whether to sign legislation penalizing certain statements about the Holocaust.

"Israel and Poland have a common responsibility to investigate and preserve the history of the Holocaust".

"The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it", Bennett said in response to the cancellation.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said in response to Duda's announcement that "Israel continues to work with the authorities in Poland and expresses to them Israel's reservations about the Polish bill".

"The ruling party couldn't withdraw the bill under the pressure of foreign countries - Israel and the USA - and signing the bill would bring a diplomatic catastrophe", she said.

He says that while Poles who helped save Jews during the Holocaust should be recognized, Poland should also acknowledge that many Poles were complicit in aiding the Nazis. On Monday Kopcinska reminded Israel that Polish people were saving Jews from the Nazis.

Israeli officials have voiced strong objections to the law, saying it is an attempt to rewrite history.

Polish officials have rescinded their invitation to Israel's Education Minister Naftali Bennett for a visit to Poland this week. Similarly, no one who uses the phrase "Polish death camps" - including former USA president Barack Obama and former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey - does so out of ill will toward Poland.

At least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish citizens were killed by the Nazis as well. "No legislation will change the past", added Bennett. "But many Poles all over their country informed, handed over or participated themselves in the murder of some 200,000 Jews during the Holocaust and even afterward", Bennett said Monday.

A historian and well-known "Nazi-hunter" at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Efraim Zuroff, says the number of collaborators runs into "many thousands".

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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