WARSAW/JERUSALEM—The Polish government has cancelled a scheduled visit by Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett this week after he made remarks accusing the Polish people of complicity in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.
“There will be no such visit,” a Polish government spokeswoman told a Polish TV news channel.
Ahead of his visit, Bennett has pledged to use the visit to “make it clear” that Polish complicity in the Holocaust was an historical fact that cannot be erased.
“I am going to speak truth, where the truth took place,” he told his Jewish Home Knesset faction Monday and noted that while thousands of Poles have been recognized as Righteous Gentiles by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, “there were also many, too many (Poles) who actively participated in abusing, degrading and killing Jews.”
In response to the Polish cancellation, Bennette said he was ‘’honored.’’ “The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it. The government of Poland canceled my visit because I mentioned the crimes of its people. I am honored,’’ he said in a statement.
“Now, the next generation has an important lesson about the Holocaust of our people, and I will ensure they learn it. This decision by the Polish government has a role to play in Holocaust education, even if they intended it to achieve something else.’’
“Yes, the death camps in Poland were built and operated by the Germans, and we cannot allow them to evade responsibility for these actions. However, many Polish people, all over the country, chased, informed or actively took part in the murder of over 200,000 Jews during, and after, the Holocaust. Only a few thousand people, Righteous Among the Nations, risked themselves to save Jews.’’
Bennett visit’s cancellation is the latest instalment of a week-long diplomatic scuffle between Poland and Israel over Polish legislation voted by the Senate that would criminalize accusations of Polish complicity in the Holocaust.
On Monday, Polish ambassador to Israel Jacek Chodorowicz did not show up for a ceremony at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem honoring diplomats who saved Jews during the Holocaust, where Netanyahu said “the truth about the Holocaust must always be studied” and called on all nations, including Poland, to internalize the lessons of the Holocaust.,
Polish President Andrzej Duda still has two weeks to decide whether to sign the legislation into law.
In an interview with Arutz 7 in Warsaw, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was asked what he wanted Holocaust survivors to understand Poland’s new law. He responded : “We are fighting for absolute historical truth. It would offend survivors of the Holocaust to mix perpetrators with victims, and this is what was happening in Poland over the last 25 years.’’
Asked what would happen if anti-Semitism appears in Poland as a result of this issue, he said : “I hope that won’t be the case. In Poland the level of anti-Semitism is one of the lowest if not the lowest in Europe. When you see different actions like ‘boycott Israeli products,’ disinvest or sanctions on Israel, across Europe – across France, Germany, Italy, Spain, or the United Kingdom, you can really tell the difference between what is happening in Poland where even the small waves of anti-Semitism are really not dangerous. And by the way, if they are there – and they are there – we would like to erase them completely, to completely fight with them, and this is what my government will be doing.”