Poland's Prez says he will sign Holocaust bill

Marie Harrington
February 7, 2018

Duda said that the bill will be reviewed by a top Polish court to assess the possibility of adding amendments in the future.

It says that "whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich ... shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years".

The proposed law has fueled a diplomatic crisis with Israel, which fears it would stifle discussion about the Holocaust and enable Poland to whitewash the role of the Poles who killed or denounced Jews during the German occupation of Poland during World War II.

The US State Department warned last week that the bill could have "repercussions" on "Poland's strategic interests and relationships - including with the United States and Israel".

Poland's ruling Law and Justice party vowed to push through a law regulating public statements about the country's Holocaust experience soon after it came to power in 2015.

"Unfortunately, it is not only the nationalists but also the whole Polish society which will have to pay the price", said Grabowski, who is also a member of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw.

Israel's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it would continue to communicate with Poland despite its reservations about the law. To become law, it must be signed by President Andrzej Duda.

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In a gesture to Israel, Mr Duda said he would send it to the Constitutional Tribunal to check whether its regulations comply with the Polish constitution.

Azari told the commercial Radio Zet station on Monday that after Poland's Senate adopted the bill on Thursday she "had signals" she may be withdrawn but that "now I don't know".

But he said the point of the law is to prevent the Polish nation as a whole from being wrongly accused of institutionalized participation in the Holocaust. Similarly, no one who uses the phrase "Polish death camps" - including former USA president Barack Obama and former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey - does so out of ill will toward Poland.

Duda had called Poland a victim of Nazi terror, saying six million Poles and three million Jews were murdered by the German.

According to Czaputowicz, critical comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the Polish bill were "due to a misunderstanding". In a statement released yesterday, Mr Bennett said he "felt honoured" by the cancellation for what he sees is a rewriting of the past.

"It is an undeniable historical truth that many Poles helped murder Jews, providing information about them to the Nazis, handing them over, or murdering them themselves", said Education Minister Naftali Bennett. On Monday Kopcinska reminded Israel that Polish people were saving Jews from the Nazis.

The official state visit was scheduled to convey Israel's formal opposition to the recent approval of the legislation criminalizing any mention of collaboration by the country or its citizens with its Nazi occupiers.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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