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Israeli intellectuals appeal to Polish president not to sign anti-defamation law

PR dla Zagranicy
Paweł Kononczuk 02.02.2018 12:13
Israeli politicians, historians and intellectuals have appealed to the Polish president not to sign a law that could mean a jail term for anyone who accuses Poland of being complicit in Nazi German crimes during World War II.

The law has sparked an outcry in Israel. The United States, of which Poland is a staunch ally, has warned that the new law could damage Warsaw's relations with America as well as with Israel.

Poland's lower house last week passed a bill that would introduce penalties for anyone who publicly ascribes blame to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by Nazi Germany.

The bill was approved by the Polish Senate, the upper house, on Thursday.

Polish President Andrzej Duda has 21 days to sign the legislation into law. Or he can veto it and send it back to Poland's parliament to reconsider, or refer it to the country’s Constitutional Tribunal for review.

In Poland, the planned new law is seen as a way of fighting the use of the phrase “Polish death camps”, which implies Poland's involvement in the Holocaust.

Poland has long fought the use of such phrases, which have appeared in foreign media in relation to Nazi German-run extermination camps located in occupied Polish territory during World War II.

But commentators have said that Israel is concerned that the new law could mean penalties for anyone who criticises individual Poles' role in the Holocaust.

‘Emotions running high’

Israeli ambassador to Poland Anna Azari has said: "In Israel, this bill is seen as creating a possibility of punishment for Holocaust survivors' testimony. The emotions are running high.”

The Polish bill has been criticized by the Israeli prime minister, deputies and Israel’s foreign ministry.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a special televised address on Thursday evening that Holocaust denial is not only the denial of German crimes but also lying about history, including minimising the responsibility of perpetrators and assigning blame to their victims.

Polish government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcińska has said: “It was the Germans who attacked Poland, while the Poles and Jews were the victims” in World War II.

“There were no Polish death camps, no Polish concentration camps or Polish extermination camps. We must set the record straight by continually explaining and clarifying things,” she added.

A working group for “historical truth and Israeli dialogue” was called on Thursday, after Morawiecki and his Israeli counterpart earlier agreed to hold bilateral dialogue.

GermanDeathCamps.info, a new educational website aimed at debunking misconceptions about Poland’s role in the Holocaust, has been launched by Polish Radio.


Source: IAR

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