Poland deputy envoy to Israel summoned over bill to outlaw term ‘Polish death camps’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Poland deputy envoy to Israel summoned over bill to outlaw term ‘Polish death camps’

Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls diplomat in for a “clarification discussion" amid the controversial legislation

The entrance gates to Auschwitz I, (Photo credit: Jemma Crew/PA Wire)
The entrance gates to Auschwitz I, (Photo credit: Jemma Crew/PA Wire)

Poland’s deputy ambassador was summoned to Israel’s foreign ministry over Polish legislation that would criminalise the term “Polish death camps.”

The deputy ambassador was called in for a “clarification discussion,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. Ministry officials expressed Israel’s opposition to the bill during the meeting.

The ministry called the timing of the vote on the bill, the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, “particularly surprising and unfortunate.” It also said that the legislation “will not help further the exposure of historical truth and may harm freedom of research, as well as prevent discussion of the historical message and legacy of World War II.”

The ministry called on the Polish government to change the wording of the bill before it is approved by the Polish Senate and president, and to “conduct a dialogue with Israel on the subject.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said that Israel’s ambassador in Warsaw spoke with the Polish prime minister about the legislation on Saturday night during a memorial ceremony at Auschwitz. He added that the ambassador and her staff will meet during the week with Polish leadership to discuss the issue.

Also on Sunday, Poland’s  President Andrzej Duda said in a statement that he would carefully review the legislation. “Everyone whose personal memory or historical research speaks the truth about the crimes and shameful behaviour that occurred in the past with the participation of Poles has full right to this truth,” he said.

Meanwhile, late on Saturday night, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a tweet that “Auschwitz is the most bitter lesson on how evil ideologies can lead to hell on earth. Jews, Poles, and all victims should be guardians of the memory of all who were murdered by German Nazis. Auschwitz-Birkenau is not a Polish name, and Arbeit Macht Frei is not a Polish phrase.”

“Arbeit Macht Frei” is German for “Work Makes You Free,” and is the phrase hanging on the entrance gate of Auschwitz.

Morawiecki also pointed out that that Israel and Poland signed a joint statement in 2016 opposing use of the term “Polish death camps.”

Netanyahu on Saturday night said in a statement: “The law is baseless; I strongly oppose it. One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied.”

Several Israeli lawmakers and Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial came out against the legislation passed Friday by the lower house of the Polish parliament.

The legislation, designed to make it clear that Nazi Germany is responsible for the crimes against humanity that took place in the camps, calls for calls for prison sentences of up to three years.  It contains a provision excluding scholarly or academic works.

Help perform the greatest mitzvah: save a life

While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.

That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.

We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.

Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”

read more: