Poland's president says he will sign controversial Holocaust bill

Posted February 07, 2018

Duda said he will also consult with Poland's constitutional court for review.

Israel sees it as an attempt to whitewash the role some Poles played in the killing of Jews during World War II.

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.

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". It is the opinion of this author that the use of the term "Polish death camps" is misleading and simply untrue.

Poland is governed by a nationalist party, Law and Justice (PiS), which is keen to show the world how Poland was ruthlessly victimised by its German and Soviet neighbours in the war.

Andrzej Duda defended the legislation, which will make it illegal to accuse Poland of complicity in such Nazi crimes committed under occupation.

Czaputowicz said Monday that even if Duda does so, Poland would still be willing to back a joint declaration with Israel clarifying its scope or to amend it. Many people were surprised when lawmakers suddenly approved it on January 26, the day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day .

Unfortunately, at a moment when most would wish cooler heads would prevail, a trip by the Israeli Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, has been cancelled after he strongly condemned the proposed law. The law targets a geographical shorthand, sometimes used overseas, for the extermination camps that the Nazis established on Polish territory during the Second World War.

Moreover, whilst the concentration camps were the site where Jewish people were killed in the millions, the murdering of Poles of Christian and other denominations (numbering in the hundreds of thousands) should not be discounted or forgotten.

"One can not change history, and the Holocaust can not be denied", Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement last week.

"The issue is the legitimate and essential freedom to talk about the involvement of Poles in the murder of Jews without fear or threat of penalization", he said. "Poles risked their lives and the lives of their families to help, despite the fact that they were threatened with the death penalty on the part of Germany", she said.

"The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it", Bennett later said in a statement. "No legislation will change the past", added Bennett.

The leaders of Ukrainian, Tartar, Jewish and other groups said in a letter published by the Polish Press Agency late Saturday they especially oppose recent "numerous and loud manifestations of anti-Semitism".