Israel on Saturday accused Poland of wanting to “change history” in the wake of the vote by the lower house of the Polish parliament of a law related to the Holocaust that sanctions the use of the term “Polish death camps”.
The law provides for a sentence of up to three years in prison for Poles and foreigners who use the term to describe the extermination camps that the Nazis had established in Poland when they occupied the country during the Second World War.
To enter into force, this text must be voted by the Senate and signed by the Polish President.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Israeli ambassador in Warsaw to meet the Polish prime minister on Saturday evening “to express firm opposition to this law,” according to a statement from his office.
According to the Polish PAP agency, Israeli ambassador Anna Azari called on Warsaw to change the law at a ceremony on Saturday marking the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz camp, which coincides with the International Day of Remembrance victims of the Holocaust.
Moreover, the Polish chargé d’affaires at the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv, in the absence of the ambassador, was convened Sunday at 10:00 local time (0800 GMT) in Jerusalem, told AFP a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Wrong Interpretation of History”
For the Poles, the use of the term “Polish death camps” gives the false impression that their country is responsible for the Holocaust.
For Israeli leaders, this text represents an attempt to deny Poland’s participation in the extermination of Jews by the Nazis during the Second World War.
“This law is without foundation. We can not change History and the Holocaust can not be denied, “said Netanyahu.
“Israel is asking the Polish government to amend this law before its final adoption,” said the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
An official of this ministry told AFP that this law was aimed at “clearing the Poles of their role during and after the Holocaust”.
Israel’s leftist and centrist opposition leaders Isaac Herzog and Yair Lapid also denounced the Polish law, as did opposition Arab MP Ahmed Tibi.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, also criticized the text, but in a more nuanced way.
“This law is likely to blur the historical truth about the assistance that the Germans received from the Polish people during the Holocaust,” said a statement in a statement, which acknowledged, however, “that no doubt that the term + Polish death camps + constitutes a misinterpretation of history.