Israel hopes Polish anti-defamation law will be changed

Polish Prime Minister with Israeli journalists

Polish Prime Minister with Israeli journalists Public relations

Israel's Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari said Monday that after Poland's Senate adopted the bill last Thursday she "had signals" she may be withdrawn. The latter has demanded it to be reviewed.

Poland's President Andrzej Duda gives a press conference on February 6, 2018 in Warsaw to announces that he will sign into law a controversial Holocaust bill which has sparked tensions with Israel, the U.S., and Ukraine. "I made the decision to sign this amendment to the bill into law", he was quoted as saying by Russia's Tass news agency.

The bill proposed by Poland's ruling conservative Law and Justice Party calls for fines and prison sentences of up to three years for purposely trying to attribute the crimes Nazi Germany carried out during the almost six-year occupation to the Polish nation as a whole. "If somebody acts as a spokesman for Israeli interests, maybe they should think about giving up their Polish citizenship and accepting Israeli citizenship", Nisztor said in a comment carried on the radio's official Twitter account.

The Polish government, however, announced that it had cancelled the visit, ostensibly due to Bennett's criticism of a Polish law that criminalizes calling any Nazi-run labor, concentration or death camp "Polish."

Thousands of Poles risked their lives to protect Jewish neighbours during the war.

Analysts say that the legislation has isolated Poland from Israel, a key ally of the United States and neighbouring Ukraine.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieckiצילום Yoni Kempinski
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieckiצילום Yoni Kempinski

European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said in a statement Tuesday his organisation would challenge what he described as the "flawed" law in Poland's Constitutional Tribunal. Yad Vashem, Israel's state authority on the Holocaust, said it understands the frustration in Poland with "misleading" terms like "Polish death camps" but added it opposed the law because it would stifle historical research and debate about the Holocaust.

"The Polish state was not complicit in the Holocaust, but many Poles were", Mr Zuroff told the Times of Israel. The law has sparked aggressive disputes within Poland as well as overseas.

In a statement from his office, Bennet said, "I am determined to say explicitly [what] history has already proved - the Polish nation had a proven involvement in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust".

Andrzej Duda said in a televised address the legislation would safeguard Poland's global reputation, but Israel called for amendments, saying the two countries had a "joint responsibility" to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.

But Duda and other Polish leaders insist the law does not limit freedom of speech on Holocaust issues that are based in historical fact.

It has caused a diplomatic crisis with Israel, which fears it will enable Poland to whitewash the role of Poles during the Holocaust.


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