Israel, Poland in row over Holocaust Bill

On Sunday, during the Israeli cabinet weekly meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the bill and said Israel "will not accept any attempt whatsoever to rewrite history".

Poland's deputy chief of mission, Piotr Kozłowski, told Israeli media the law's objective "is not to whitewash history, but to safeguard it and safeguard the truth about the Holocaust and prevent its distortion".

The measure, which is meant to apply to both Poles and foreigners, sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone who refers to death camps set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland as being Polish.

After the law was harshly criticized by Israel's prime minister, president and other lawmakers, Poland's President Andrzej Duda said in a statement that he would present a "final evaluation of procedural legal provisions after the completion of parliament's work and a careful analysis of the final shape of the act". However, it marks a dramatic step by the country's current nationalist government to target anyone who tries to undermine its official stance that Poles only were heroes during the war, not Nazi collaborators who committed heinous crimes.

But the immediate concern in Israel is that the law is also an effort to whitewash some of the darker parts of Poland's wartime experience, in which a small minority of Poles either outed Jews trying to hide from the Germans, extorted money from them, or killed Jews themselves.

Poland's Deputy Justice Minister Patryk Jaki, who authored the Bill, said on Twitter that it was not directed against Israel.

"Yad Vashem will continue to support research aimed at exposing the complex truth regarding the attitude of the Polish population towards the Jews during the Holocaust".

"There is no doubt that the term "Polish death camps" is a historical misrepresentation," the Yad Vashem memorial said. While some Polish civilians participated in the murder of Jews or turned them over to Nazis to avoid being executed for hiding them, others resisted.

"There have been incidences of genocide since, whether Rwanda or Biafra or Cambodia, so we haven't learned the lesson very well", Schudrich said.

However, Markiewicz noted, "While we remember the fearless Poles who saved Jews, the role of some Poles in murdering Jews can not be ignored".

It demonised Mr Gross and investigated whether he had slandered Poland by asserting that Poles killed more Jews than they killed Germans during the war.

Yafah Par, a 90-year-old Rishon LeZion resident who survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, also attested to the Polish involvement in the Holocaust.

"We expect the Polish government to change the wording of the law before its final adoption and conduct a meaningful dialogue with Israel on the subject", it said. Morawiecki tweeted a reminder that Poland and Israel had jointly agreed to combat "mistaken terms like 'Polish death camps'".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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