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Israel hoping for changes to Polish bill

07 February, 2018, 01:23 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • The Latest Yad Vashem fears Polish law may distort history

An ally of the ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party who occasionally has been willing to buck the party's will, Duda also announced that he would ask the country's Constitutional Tribunal to review the bill to check whether it complies with Poland's fundamental rights, such as the freedom of speech.

Poland's president signed legislation Tuesday that imposes prison terms of up to three years for falsely and intentionally attributing the crimes of Nazi Germany to Poland.

But it also "takes into account the sensitivity of those for whom the issue of historical truth, the memory of the Holocaust is incredibly important", Duda added. Polish institutions did not collaborate with Germans.

Moreover, whilst the concentration camps were the site where Jewish people were killed in the millions, the murdering of Poles of Christian and other denominations (numbering in the hundreds of thousands) should not be discounted or forgotten.

In a televised address, Duda said the legislation would preserve Poland's worldwide reputation and said that artistic and historical research work will not be affected by the law. "Meanwhile, together with likeminded friends inside and outside Poland, we shall continue to urge respectful and open dialogue among all the parties involved to try to help restore the bonds of trust that ought to be in everyone's best interest". And yes, more Poles have been honored by Yad Vashem for their life-saving efforts to protect Jews during the war than any other nation. Approximately 6 million Polish citizens were killed during World War II, about half of them Jews.

The attitudes towards Israel are constantly improving in Poland and many young people have ahistorical but positive associations with Israel.

The dispute over the "blame" law has deeply wounded the relationship between Poland and Israel.

"We will certainly talk about our common history soon", Joanna Kopcinska, the spokeswoman, said in a statement sent to Reuters.

The Washington, DC-based museum said some Polish agencies, including the police force and railway personnel, played a role in the deportation and sending of Jews to the death camps. Jewish activists also say the law has sparked a rise in anti-Semitism in Poland.

While Daniels conceded that there were "undoubtedly many, many bad Poles who were involved in horrific crimes" against Jews, the bill's wording criminalizes those who accuse the Polish government or the Polish nation as a whole of complicity with the Nazis. Amendments to the law envisage fines or imprisonment for up to three years for "sharing responsibility before the Polish people or the state, including for crimes committed by the Third Reich".

Warsaw has given Kiev strong backing in its standoff with Moscow over the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and a pro-Russian separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine.

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