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Israeli mayor forced to cancel annual speech in Poland over country’s new Holocaust law

Authorities asked Eli Dukorsky to redact his planned remarks about Polish complicity in Second World War crimes

    An Israeli mayor pulled out of a speech to students visiting Poland after he was told to omit passages that could contravene the country’s new law on Holocaust responsibility.  

    Eli Dukorsky, the mayor of Kiryat Bialik in northern Israel, said he had planned to mention the Jews who were murdered by Poles during the Holocaust in his speech, a joint appearance with the local Polish mayor. 

    But he cancelled after being told by officials that his speech would have to be redacted.  

    A bill signed into law by Poland’s president earlier this year makes it a criminal offence to suggest the “Polish nation” was responsible for Nazi Germany’s crimes during the Second World War. 

    The cancelled speech could be the first example of censorship under the controversial new law.  

    Mr Dukorsky said he spoke every year at an event in Radomsko, which is twinned with Kiryat Bialik, and this was the first time he was asked to submit an advance text of his speech to officials, Haaretz reported.  

    He had planned to mention examples of Polish Righteous Among the Nations who had saved Jews during the joint event with Radomsko’s mayor, Jaroslaw Ferenc, who was also set to address the visiting Israeli students. 

    “We received the speech last week,” Mr Ferenc said. 

    “Unfortunately, some of the content was historically unproven.” 

    He said it was “impossible” for him to accept the part of Mr Dukorsky’s speech that said: “Polish farmers killed 200,000 Jews during the war and that, of the six million Jews who were murdered, 200,000 were killed by Poles.” 

    “We reject any attempt at censorship,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon told Hadashot

    “We support the mayor’s right to deliver his speech as he planned and to not leave out any word, not even a single letter.” 

    Mr Dukorsky was also quoted as saying he was asked to refer in his speech to Ukrainian crimes instead of Polish ones. 

    He later delivered the original speech to the students at a private ceremony.

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