It was Poland’s turn to show its displeasure in the ongoing row over the country’s Holocaust bill on Monday, as it cancelled an official visit by Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
Bennett aroused Polish indignation with a declaration earlier in the day that “in Poland, I will make it clear: The past can’t be rewritten, the future should be written together.”
“I am going to speak truth, where the truth took place,” Bennett said of the Polish role in the crimes of the Holocaust.
In response, Polish government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcińska said “no such visit will take place.”
Following the cancellation, Bennett released a statement on Monday night saying that he feels honored by the Polish decision not to receive him:
“The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it. The Government of Poland cancelled my visit, because I mentioned the crimes of its people. I am honored. Now, the next generation has an important lesson about the Holocaust of our People, and I will ensure they learn it. This decision by the Polish government has a role to play in Holocaust education, even if they intended it to achieve something else.”
Addressing Poland’s complaint that it has been unfairly blamed for Nazi death camps built on its land and mistakenly called “Polish death camps,” Bennett said that it did not in any way absolve them for the atrocities they committed on their own and in willing collaboration with the Germans.
“Yes, the death camps in Poland were built and operated by the Germans, and we cannot allow them to evade responsibility for these actions. However, many Polish people, all over the country, chased, informed or actively took part in the murder of over 200,000 Jews during, and after, the Holocaust. Only a few thousand people, Righteous Among the Nations, risked themselves to save Jews. This is the truth. I accepted an invitation to a dialogue based on truth. The Polish government chose to avoid this truth,” Bennett said.