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UK Jewish leaders tell Polish officials of dismay over planned Holocaust law

The Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council, the Holocaust Educational Trust and B’nai Brith UK met with Polish officials

    The Polish Sejm (Parliament) Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Katarzyna Czerwińska

    British Jewish leaders have told senior Polish officials of the community’s strong concerns over controversial new Holocaust related legislation.

    In a high-level meeting with Arkady Rzegocki, the Polish ambassador, and Bartosz Cichoki, the Polish Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, in London on Monday, representatives from four UK Jewish organisations said they were “totally dismayed” at the law making references to Polish involvement in the Holocaust illegal.

    Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies, attended the meeting together with members of the Jewish Leadership Council, the Holocaust Educational Trust and B’nai Brith UK.

    Mr Arkush said: "We set out for the minister the strong arguments against the law and our total dismay against the storm of antisemitic reaction it had created in Poland. 

    “It runs the strong risk of enforcing a distorted view of history and chilling debate on the destruction of Polish Jewry."

    The law, which came into force last month, has proved highly controversial, particularly in Israel, where the Foreign Ministry publicly stated that it viewed “with the utmost gravity any attempt to challenge historical truth”.

    In a letter which was sent a month ago, but which has only just now been made public, the Chief Rabbi wrote to the Polish ambassador to express his "great concern" at the new law.

    "Public discourse babout the Holocaust must be respectful, accurate and honest," Rabbi Mirvis wrote.

    "I believe that anything which serves to inhibit that discourse threatens the very integrity of the memory of the Shoah.

    "It seems quite clear to me that this legislation, though intended to protect historical truth, can, in fact, only undermine it." 

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