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Netanyahu slams Polish PM's comments about Jewish perpetrators 'outrageous'

Morawiecki
AFP
Israeli leaders condemned Morawiecki's 'outrageous' comments, calling them a 'distortion of history'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly condemned the Polish premier Mateusz Morawiecki's comments that Jewish perpetrators were also responsible for the Holocaust as "outrageous" on Saturday."

"The Polish prime minister's remarks here in Munich are outrageous. There is a problem here of an inability to understand history and a lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people. I intend to speak with him forthwith," Netanyahu stated.

Morawiecki attempted to defend Poland’s controversial new Holocaust law at the Munich Security Conference, explaining that it would not be criminal to say that “there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators” in the Holocaust.

“It is not going to be punishable, it is not going to be seen as criminal to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian, not only German perpetrators,” the Polish Prime Minister said.

Morawiecki made the point in response to a question from esteemed Israeli journalist and author Ronen Bergman, who received applause from the crowd after recounting his Polish mother’s Holocaust survival story, explaining that she was able to save part of her family after overhearing her neighbors "snitch" about them to the Gestapo.

“If I understand correctly, after this law is legislated I will be considered a criminal in your country for saying this. What is the purpose, what is the main message that you are trying to convey to the world? You are creating the opposite reaction and just attracting more attention to these atrocities.”

The Polish Prime Minister replied by drawing attention to the plight of Poland during World War II, singling it out as the only country completely occupied by the Germans and "the only place on earth where all the families, all the neighbors, all the villagers were killed for helping our Jewish brothers and sisters.”

Bergman told i24NEWS that for the Polish leader to deliver such statements at an international conference was "outrageous", amounting to a public "Holocaust denial".

While a correspondent for Israel's Haaretz newspaper, Nau Landau, seemed further disturbed with "the audience, Europe's elite, stays politely quiet", Berman said he found the reaction quite positive, noting that it took people time to digest the gravity and severity of the Polish Premier's comments.

Israeli officials' reactions also started pouring in on Saturday, with Yair Lapid, parliament member and head of the Yesh Atid party, insisting again on the immediate recall of Israel’s ambassador in Poland and denouncing Morawiecki’s comments as “antisemitism of the oldest kind.”


Chairman of the Labor party, Avi Gabbay condemned the “distortion of history” embedded in the Polish Prime Minister’s comments, saying they echoed “the last Holocaust deniers.”

Morawiecki seemed to suggest that the main motivation behind the legislation was to deal with Polish embassies having to address misleading comments referring to 'Polish death camps'.

"Polish embassies had to react 260 times only in 2017 with regard to the expression 'Polish death camps', 'Polish concentration camps'".

"Well ladies and gentlemen, there were no Polish death camps, there were German Nazi death camps and the mere fact that we have to explain it today stems from our history again. For 45 years after the Second World War, we couldn't defend our case. So there was no Polish independent state. Any atrocities during the Second World War and anybody who wants to know what was the German occupation on the Polish soil, I would invite to the discussion to (do) historical research because this is something completely beyond your imagination../."

A week earlier leader of Poland's ruling party claimed that critics had misinterpreted the law, saying that its penalties specifically pertain to accusations towards the nation, not towards individual participation.

The Polish Prime Minister concluded by saying that "we cannot agree with mixing perpetrators with victims", though it was not clarified how the legislation precisely addressed the issue.

In response, Zionist Union parliament member Itzik Shmuli poignantly tweeted that the Poles were on their way to confusing the perpetrators with the victims of the Holocaust.

Israel has railed against the law since its inception, though it is still working to convince the Polish government to recede from it.

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