WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – A television host in Poland suggested that the former Nazi concentration camps in the country be called “Jewish death camps.”
The comment comes amid tensions between Poland and Israel over Polish legislation that would criminalize the use of the term “Polish death camps,” designed to make it clear that Nazi Germany is responsible for the crimes against humanity that took place in the camps.
The legislation passed on Friday by the Polish parliament’s lower house, or Sejm, calls for prison sentences of up to three years for the use of the banned term. It now will be taken up by the Senate and also must be approved by the president.
Author Rafal Aleksander Ziemkiewicz mocked the idea of blaming entire nations for the actions of individuals during a discussion with show host and TVP2 director Marcin Wolski.
“If we look at the percentage of involvement of countries that took part (in the Holocaust), Jews also were part of their own destruction,” Ziemkiewicz said.
Wolski responded: “Using this terminology, linguistically, we could say these were not German or Polish camps, but were Jewish camps. After all, who dealt with the crematoria?”
Earlier, Ziemkiewicz on Twitter called Jews opposed to the changes in Polish law “scabs,” a term often used in anti-Semitic slurs in Poland.
“For many years I have convinced my people that we must support Israel. Today, because of a few scabby or greedy people, I feel like an idiot,” he wrote in his tweet, which was later deleted.
He was criticized by David Wildstein, deputy director of TVP1.
“Using the term scab is extremely nasty (…). This word is disgusting,” Wildstein tweeted.
Ziemkiewicz replied: “You are right David, a nasty word associated with all the negative traits attributed to the stereotype Jews, which is precisely why (I used it).”