Poland's Deputy Ambassador to Israel Reprimanded Over Holocaust Bill

Netanyahu condemned the new legislation on Saturday, calling on Israel's ambassador in Warsaw to meet with the Polish prime minister on the contentious bill

A sign reading "Stop!" in German and Polish at the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland, January 27, 2018.
\ KACPER PEMPEL/REUTERS

Poland's deputy ambassador to Israel Piotr Kozlowski was reprimanded at Israel's Foreign Ministry on Sunday, one day after being summoned to discuss Poland's new Holocaust legislation, which bars any mention of crimes by the "Polish nation" during the Holocaust.

Kozlowski met with Rodica Radian-Gordon, director of the Foreign Ministry's Europe department, and Akiva Tor, director of the department for Jewish communities. Kozlowski met with the Israeli representatives in place of the the Polish ambassador to Israel, who is currently abroad.

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement in which it said the Polish deputy ambassador, who was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Sunday, was told of Israel's opposition to the legislation pending in the Polish parliament pertaining to the Holocaust that would criminalize the use of the term "Polish extermination camps" in reference to camps that Nazi Germany established in Poland and would also make it a criminal offense to express the view that Poles collaborated with the Nazis in killing Jews.

The Foreign Ministry also noted what it said was the "surprising and particularly unfortunate timing" of the bill in the Polish parliament, just before International Holocaust Day, which was marked on Saturday.

"The legislation will not assist in the continued exposure of the historical truth and could hurt freedom of research as well as preventing discussion of the historic message and the heritage of World War II," the ministry said. "We would expect that the Polish government would change the wording of the bill before its final passage and conduct a dialogue with Israel on the subject."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the new legislation on Saturday, calling on Israel's ambassador in Warsaw to meet with the Polish prime minister on the contentious bill.

"The law is baseless. I strongly oppose it. History cannot be changed and it is forbidden to deny the Holocaust. I ordered the Israeli embassy in Poland to meet with the Polish Prime Minister and express my firm stand against the law," Netanyahu said.

In a statement from the President's Office, President Reuven Rivlin also  criticized the bill, saying that "on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, more than ever, and above all considerations, we are faced with our duty to remember our brothers and sisters who were murdered.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Sunday responded to criticism of new Polish law which bars any mention of crimes by the "Polish nation" during the Holocaust, tweeting "Auschwitz-Birkenau is not a Polish name, and Arbeit Macht Frei is not a Polish phrase."

"Auschwitz is the most bitter lesson on how evil ideologies can lead to hell on earth. Jews, Poles and all victims should be guardians of the memory of all who were murdered by German Nazis," he tweeted.