JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu protested a bill passed by the lower house of the Polish parliament which would make it illegal to use terms such as “Polish death camps” to refer to the camps set up by the Nazis.
“The law is baseless; I strongly oppose it” Netanyahu said in a statement Saturday. “One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied. I have instructed the Israeli Ambassador to Poland to meet with the Polish Prime Minister this evening and express to him my strong position against the law.”
The legislation, designed to make it clear that Nazi Germany is responsible for the crimes against humanity that took place in the camps, calls for prison sentences of up to three years. It still needs approval from Poland’s Senate and the country’s president.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement about the legislation that there were Polish people who aided the Nazis and those who fought against them.
“Only 73 years have passed since the gates of hell were flung open. Living Holocaust survivors are disappearing from the world and we still have to fight for the memory of the Holocaust as it was,” Rivlin said.
“The Jewish people, the State of Israel, and the entire world must ensure that the Holocaust is recognized for its horrors and atrocities. Also among the Polish people there were those who aided the Nazis in their crimes. Every crime, every offense, must be condemned. They must be examined and revealed. There were also others among them who fought and were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations,” Rivlin said.
Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, said in a statement issued Saturday night that it opposes the new legislation, saying it is “liable to blur the historical truths regarding the assistance the Germans received from the Polish population during the Holocaust.”
Israel Upset Over Effort Criminalizing ‘Polish Camps’