JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli politicians condemned 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.
Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid Party, wrote on Facebook that “Poland was complicit in the Holocaust,” adding that “Hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered on its soil without them having met any German officer.” According to Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, no more than 2,500 Jews were killed by Poles during the Holocaust and directly thereafter. Lapid got into an argument on Twitter with the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv over the legislation.
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 calls for prison sentences of up to three years. It still needs approval from Poland’s Senate and the country’s president.
“I utterly condemn the new Polish law which tries to deny Polish complicity in the Holocaust. It was conceived in Germany but hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered without ever meeting a German soldier. There were Polish death camps and no law can ever change that,” Lapid tweeted on Saturday afternoon.
The embassy tweeted the link to a statement from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which stated its support of refraining from using the term Polish death camps.
“Your unsupportable claims show how badly Holocaust education is needed, even here in Israel,” the embassy tweeted. “The intent of the Polish draft legislation is not to ‘whitewash’ the past, but to protect the truth against such slander,” it also tweeted.
“I am a son of a Holocaust survivor. My grandmother was murdered in Poland by Germans and Poles. I don’t need Holocaust education from you. We live with the consequences every day in our collective memory. Your embassy should offer an immediate apology,” Lapid responded.