Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Israeli politicians slam Poland's controversial Holocaust bill

New law means using phrase 'Polish death camps' could be an imprisonable offence

    Poland's law came in the week Alicja Mularska was given an award for her Polish parents' role in hiding Jews during the Second World War
    Poland's law came in the week Alicja Mularska was given an award for her Polish parents' role in hiding Jews during the Second World War (Photo: Flash90)

    Israeli politicians and diplomats have responded angrily after the Polish senate approved the country’s controversial new Holocaust bill. 

    “No law will change the facts,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement after the bill was approved on Thursday.

    “Israel opposes categorically the Polish senate decision. Israel views with utmost gravity any attempt to challenge historical truth.”

    The bill, which has yet to be signed into law by the Polish President Andrzej Duda, could mean prison terms for anyone who describes Nazi camps as “Polish death camps” or suggests the Polish nation was complicit in the Shoah.

    Senators voted 57 to 23 to approve the bill, with two absentions.

    It was voted in parliament on the week a Polish woman accepted a Righteous Among the Nations award on behalf of her parents, Jan Dziadosz and Sabina Perzyna, during a posthumous ceremony in Jerusalem.

    The couple helped hide Jews in Poland’s Lublin district during the Second World War.

    Over 6,000 non-Jewish Poles have given the Righteous Among the Nations accolade, more than any other nationality.

    The ministry’s statement reflected a widespread feeling in Israel that the Warsaw parliament has no right to prescribe prison sentences for people who suggest that Poland bore responsibility for the Holocaust.

    There was similar anger among Israeli opposition parties, with Labour leader Isaac Herzog saying it “includes a deep element of Holocaust denial" and party colleague Nachman Shai adding: “the Poles are determined to obscure their role in the Holocaust of European Jewry" and 

    The Yad Vashem institution said that while it considers the term “Polish death camps” to be historically inaccurate, the law would still restrain free Holocaust scholarship.

    “[The bill] jeopardises the free and open discussion of the part of the Polish people in the persecution of the Jews at the time,” the organisation said. 

    “It is liable to blur historical truths due to limitations it places on expressions regarding the complicity of segments of the Polish population in crimes against Jews committed by its own people, either directly or indirectly, on Polish soil during the Holocaust.” 

    Israeli politicians have formed a cross-party alliance to respond to the Polish legislation with their own bill in Israel, with half of Knesset members backing a new bill to criminalise denying or downplaying the role of Nazi collaborators. 

News Features

Wizo UK: Educating Israel's future

Rosa Doherty

Friday, February 16, 2018

Wizo UK: Educating Israel's future
Israel

Israel to enforce Hamas prisoner family visit ban

Rosa Doherty

Friday, February 16, 2018

Israel to enforce Hamas prisoner family visit ban
Features

The talent at the head of Bafta

Gaby Koppel

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The talent at the head of Bafta
UK News

New Kosher restaurant to open in the City of London

Daniel Sugarman

Friday, February 16, 2018

New Kosher restaurant to open in the City of London
UK News

Michael Frank wins JQ Wingate literary prize

Daniel Sugarman

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Michael Frank wins JQ Wingate literary prize
Community News

Hollywood director seeks Jewish teen to star in movie

Rosa Doherty

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hollywood director seeks Jewish teen to star in movie
Israel

El Al announces changes to pricing

Daniel Sugarman

Friday, February 16, 2018

El Al announces changes to pricing
Special Reports

Spotlight on Edgware

Ben Weich

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Spotlight on Edgware
News Features

The Knesset - explained.

Nathan Jeffay

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Knesset - explained.