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Arab Israeli leader slams Poland over Holocaust law

Israeli Arab political leader Ayman Odeh heads the Joint List, which groups the main Arab parties in the Knesset
Ahmad Gharabli (AFP/File)
Israeli lawmaker Yair Lapid slammed the government's pledge to "negotiate" with Poland over the new law

The leader of the Israeli Joint List, an Arab majority party that secured 13 seats in the Knesset in the last general elections, has condemned the new Polish law that whitewashes Polish responsibility over the murder of 3 million of its Jewish citizens in the Holocaust. 

“The decision of the Polish government is shameful and dangerous. Holocaust denial is linked to one of the darkest moments in history. Only deep recognition of the injustices of the past guarantees the sanctity of life in the future…", he wrote on Twitter.

"I encourage the Polish government to quickly cancel its shameful new law. Rewriting history is never a worthy act. The Holocaust cannot be denied,” he concluded. 

Prominent Arab Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi, however, wrote an accusatory op-ed in +972 Mag arguing that Israeli politicians criticizing Poland actually share the same attitude with regards to the "Nakba", the Palestinian name for the 1948 war when 700.000 Arab residents fled today's Israel. 

"So how is this law any different from the Nakba Law, which would withhold state funds from cultural and educational institutions that commemorate the horrors that befell the Palestinians in 1948?,' she asks in the piece. 

Meanwhile, opposition leader Yair Lapid attacked the government for pledging to "negotiate" with Poland over the controversial law.

In an op-ed on The Times of Israel, Lapid said he is not ready to compromise over the law.

"We do not negotiate about the memory of the Holocaust. Today, we have friendly relations and positive cooperation with Poland, but when this law reaches the Senate, Polish leaders need to know that they are putting that friendship at risk," Lapid wrote.


In a statement, Lapid said he is ready to bring proof of Polish involvement if the law is passed. "The Jews are not ready to keep silent anymore. The Jews are no longer afraid of you," he said. 

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday led a chorus of outrage against new legislation in Poland that would make illegal suggestions it shared some responsibility for the Holocaust.

On Friday Poland's lower house of parliament approved a bill that prohibits the mention of “Polish death camps” or any insinuation that it played a supporting role in the atrocities committed by the Nazis during their attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe during the Second World War.

The bill, which came just hours before the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday, outraged Israeli lawmakers. Israeli's foreign ministry said they had summoned Poland's Deputy Ambassador to Israel for a "clarification" discussion.

Just after the end of the Jewish Sabbath in Israel, Netanyahu blasted the law as "absurd".

"I strongly oppose it. History cannot be changed, and the Holocaust must not be denied," he said, adding that he had instructed Israel's envoy to Warsaw, Anna Azari, to meet the Polish prime minister to convey a "firm stand" against the law.

Earlier, the foreign ministry also called on Poland to amend the bill before it advanced to the upper house.

"No law can change the historical truth," the statement continued, "and there is no place to educate the families of Holocaust survivors, who live every day the memory of their loved ones who perished in the inferno."

Israel's president, Reuven Rivlin, recalled a statement Poland's then-President Aleksander Kwaśniewski, who in 2000 told the Israeli parliament that “one cannot fake history, one cannot rewrite it, one cannot hide the truth. Every crime, every offence must be condemned, denounced, must be examined and exposed."

Rivlin himself added that "living Holocaust survivors are disappearing from the world and we still have to fight for the memory of the Holocaust as it was."




What is the name of the MK who leads the joint list and who protested the Polish law? In the opening paragraph you give Yair Lapid's name instead.

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