Contradictory Reports Emerge on Polish Suspension of Holocaust Law

YERUSHALAYIM -
The Auschwitz death camp. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

A report Sunday morning walked back claims on Motzoei Shabbos that Poland was suspending its law on Holocaust-era defamation. The report on Hadashot News Motzoei Shabbos said that Poland had informed Israel that it was suspending the law, and that it would not go into effect on March 1st, as had been planned. But on Sunday, Channel Ten quoted Polish officials as saying that this was not accurate, and that the law would go into effect as originally planned.

In addition, the Channel Ten report quoted a Polish government official as saying that an expected official delegation would not be visiting Israel in the coming days. “There is a high possibility of a meeting between Israeli and Polish officials taking place in the coming days, but no date has been set for the meeting,” the official was quoted as saying. The Motzoei Shabbos report said that the Polish delegation had been set to arrive in Israel this week to discuss the law and to draw up language that would satisfy both sides in a controversy that has placed Israel and Poland on opposing sides over who is responsible for the death of millions of Polish Jews.

Israeli officials on Motzoei Shabbos praised Poland for suspending the law. Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who is also in charge of Israel’s National Service, lifted a suspension of programs that bring Israelis to Poland for volunteer work that had been imposed several weeks ago, when the Polish parliament ratified the law.

The “Polish Law,” as it has come to be known among Israelis, forbids the use of the term “Polish death camps,” or discussing or implying that Poland had a role in murdering Jews during the Holocaust. According to the Poles, they, too, were victims of the Nazis. Violators of the law, whether Polish citizens or foreigners, are subject to fines or imprisonment of up to three years.

Reactions in Israel to the law’s passage came fast and furious. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the law was “ridiculous, I oppose it. You cannot change history, and you cannot deny the Holocaust.”

In its official response, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that “Israel opposes the law and asks the Polish government to change it before it proceeds in the legislative process. No law can change the historical truth and there is no need to ‘educate’ the families of Holocaust victims, who live each day with the memories of their loved ones.”