Yad Vashem Condemns Poland's New Holocaust Law, but Says Warsaw Is Right to Object to Term 'Polish Death Camps'

Yad Vashem explains that 'there is no doubt that the term is a distortion of history' after new Polish law draws widespread condemnation

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man visits the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Sunday, May 1, 2011.
AP/Sebastian Scheiner

Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial, also condemned Saturday Poland's new bill which seeks to ban any mention of the "Polish nation's" role in the crimes of the Holocaust, saying it could "obscure the historical truth regarding the aide the Germans received from the local Polish community during the Holocaust."

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly denounced the new Holocaust law in Poland, 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.

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Other Israeli lawmakers have tweeted their opposition to the new bill, including Yair Lapid, the head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, who got into a Twitter feud with the Polish embassy in Israel on Saturday.  

In a statement, Yad Vashem said "restrictions on statements by researchers and others regarding the participation of the Polish people – directly or indirectly – in crimes perpetrated on their soil during the Holocaust, is a severe distortion.

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Yad Vashem continues to support research that strives to reveal the complex truth of the local Polish population treatment of Jews during the Holocaust."

However, Yad Vashem noted that Poland is right in its objection to the term "Polish death camps," explaining that "there is no doubt that the term is a distortion of history. The death camps were set up in Nazi-occupied Poland with the intention of murdering Jews as part of the final solution. "