We have accepted the mendacious official Polish narrative, and we have legitimized the campaign to harass, fine and impoverish Polish liberals, academics, journalists and simply honest people who expose Poles’ involvement in the crimes of the Holocaust.
The usual conduct [in occupied Poland] was not to help Jews, but to harm them, and many Poles were involved in the persecution of Jews. Europeans’ cooperation with the Nazi death machine was widespread, of course, not only in Poland. But in other countries, scholars who uncover this can’t be penalized.
The Polish and Israeli governments have reached an agreement on an amendment to the Polish law that states that claiming that Poland as a country, or the Polish people, were responsible for crimes committed by the Nazis is a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison. According to the agreement, this criminal aspect was removed.
The Polish government passed the law to begin with to defend its good name against accusations that many Poles took part in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust. And who will decide on the historical facts? According to the Poles, it will be the Institute of National Remembrance, which is run by the politicians controlling the country today.
And so according to the law — even after the agreement with Israel — the government will determine what happened in the past via historians in its service, and this narrative cannot be critiqued by historians, independent researchers or others. Is this acceptable to the Israeli government?
“I don’t know what was going on here — ignorance, stupidity or the clear amoral victory of transient interests that will remain with us as an eternal disgrace.”
— Yad Vashem historian Yehuda Bauer
Israel’s official Holocaust memorial center on Thursday issued a stinging critique of a joint statement by the Israeli and Polish prime ministers that was meant to resolve a rift between the countries over a contentious Polish law on the Holocaust.
The Polish law, which made it illegal to accuse Poland of complicity in the Holocaust, was amended last week. The two leaders — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki — issued their statement in an effort to put the controversy over the law behind them.
But the memorial center, Yad Vashem, said the statement contained “grave errors and deceptions.”
“The aim is to portray institutional racism in Israel as entirely normal, and make sure the apartheid reality here is irreversible. . . . It is part of the right’s magical thinking — they are in denial that there is an indigenous people here still living in their homeland. We are not about to disappear because of this law.” — Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament
New legislation to cement the definition of Israel as a state belonging exclusively to Jews around the world is a “declaration of war” on Palestinian citizens of Israel, the minority’s leaders warned this week.
The bill, which defines Israel as the “national home of the Jewish people,” passed its first vote in the Israeli parliament on Wednesday, after it received unanimous backing from a government committee on Sunday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to get the measure on to the statute books within 60 days.
Among its provisions, the legislation — popularly known as the Jewish Nation-State Bill — revokes the status of Arabic as an official language, even though it is the mother tongue of one in five citizens.
Israel’s population includes a large minority of 1.7 million Palestinians.
The legislation affirms that world Jewry has a “unique” right to national self-determination in Israel, and calls for the government to further strengthen ties to Jewish communities outside Israel.
It also increases the powers of so-called “admissions committees” that block Palestinian citizens from living in hundreds of communities that control most of Israel’s land.