Israel Should Apologize to Poland for anti-Semitism Remark, U.S. Ambassador Says

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Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a meeting in Warsaw, Poland, February 14, 2019.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a meeting in Warsaw, Poland, February 14, 2019.Credit: Michael Sohn,AP

Acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz should apologize to Poland for his remarks, U.S. Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher said on Wednesday, commenting on the diplomatic row between two countries. 

"I just felt that two strong allies like Israel and Poland, of course they are strong allies of the United States, shouldn't be using that kind of rhetoric. We are too important to each other not to work these things out," Mosbacher told reporters. 

Right after being appointed acting foreign minister, Katz told Israel's i24 News on Monday: "I am the son of Holocaust survivors, we will never forgive and never forget, and there were many Poles who collaborated with the Nazis."

>> Analysis: With Poland, Netanyahu discovers the limits of playing with history

He continued to quote former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, saying: "Shamir said that every Pole suckled anti-Semitism with his mother's milk. Nobody will tell us how to express out stance and how to honor the dead."

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder also responded to the rift on Wednesday, writing that, "As someone who has been deeply engaged in promoting Polish-Jewish understanding for over three decades, I can only decry the deterioration in relations between Israel and Poland."

"It is unfortunate for both Jews and Poles that obnoxious and offensive stereotypes that have caused so much pain and suffering on both sides over the years continue to circulate," Lauder added.

Katz's comments on Monday triggered Poland to pull out of the Visegrad summit, which was slated to be held in Jerusalem on Monday and Tuesday. Instead, the leaders of the remaining three countries – Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia – held bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Katz's remarks were "racist and unacceptable" and that "this is not something that can be left without a response."

Jewish leaders in Poland said they were offended by Katz's comments. The leaders issued a statement Monday saying that accusing all Poles of anti-Semitism slighted thousands of Poles honored by Israel's Holocaust memorial center, Yad Vashem, for helping Jews during the Holocaust.

Poland's chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, and Union of Jewish Religious Communities head Monika Krawczyk said Shamir's words "were unjust already when they were first said, in 1989."

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