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Yad Vashem’s Top Historian Accepts Joint Israel-Poland Holocaust Declaration

(JTA) — Yad Vashem’s chief historian Dina Porat said Tuesday that “we can live with” much of the joint Holocaust declaration by Israel and Poland that has come in for criticism, including from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Porat in an interview with Israel’s Kan national broadcaster said the declaration should be changed but not canceled.

The declaration made earlier this month by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, acknowledges collaboration by some Poles during the Holocaust and the rescue of Jews by others. It also states that during the Holocaust, “unfortunately, the sad fact is that some people – regardless of their origin, religion or worldview – revealed their darkest side.”

Porat told Kan that she consulted privately with both sides working on the declaration, though on a “voluntary, personal and confidential basis,” and not as a representative of Yad Vashem. She said she thinks she was able to “minimize the damage.”

Porat said she offered to resign from her position at Yad Vashem after her involvement in the declaration came to light, but that Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev rejected her offer.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in its criticism on Tuesday said the declaration “does not secure a future for Holocaust education, scholarship, and remembrance.”

The declaration was designed to end the diplomatic spat between Poland and Israel over a law passed in Poland’s parliament in February that criminalized blaming the Polish nation for Nazi crimes. Israel protested the law and Poland’s government subsequently softened it.

The museum acknowledged in a statement that it has held public and private discussions with the Polish government.

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at fisher@forward.com, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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Yad Vashem’s Top Historian Accepts Joint Israel-Poland Holocaust Declaration

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