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Israel and Poland Continue to Spar over Holocaust Language

The war of words between Israel and Poland that erupted when the Polish parliament criminalized references to the nation’s complicity with Nazi Germany in Holocaust atrocities is showing little evidence of either side backing down or trying to restore more cordial relations. When the law was signed in Warsaw on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and it became a crime punishable by up to three years in prison for one to refer to something as basic as saying “Polish death camps,” Israelis from all political quarters vehemently denounced the act and demanded it be rescinded. The Poles refused. Israel’s diplomats called in their counterparts from Warsaw for the traditional diplomatic dressing-down and in Jerusalem, calls were heard demanding that Israel’s ambassador to Poland be brought home. The friction between the two nations continued as the leaders went to Germany to attend the Munich Security Conference. There, in answer to a question posed by Ronen Bergman, one of Israel’s premier journalists, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki poured fuel on the fire when he said that the Holocaust had both Polish and Jewish “perpetrators.” Netanyahu called Morawiecki’s words “outrageous” and said they display a “lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people.” He has since spoken with the Polish prime minister and again told him that is remarks are “unacceptable.” The conversation ended with an agreement that the two nations would continue to discuss the matter but no specifics were given.