Fifty surviving Poles who helped to save the lives of Jews during the Holocaust have commissioned a full-page advert in a national newspaper calling for a thawing of relations with Israel.
Poland came under international scrutiny last month when it approved a law that would see jail sentences for those found guilty of suggesting the “Polish nation” was complicit in the Holocaust.
The move attracted criticism, particularly from the Israeli government.
“One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the time.
The advert, on page 27 of Thursday’s Guardian, called on Israeli and Polish leaders to “continue to build an alliance and a future in Poland, Israel, Europe, and America, based on friendship, solidarity and truth”.
It was taken out by the surviving Polish Righteous Among the Nations, a title given by Yad Vashem on those who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
More Poles – 6,850 in total, of whom 50 are living today – have been granted the honour, more than any other nationality.
The letter read: “We, the remaining living Righteous, representing the 6,850 Polish Righteous Among the Nations appeal to the governments and parliaments of Israel and Poland to return to the path of dialogue and reconciliation.
“We ask you not to re-write history. The worst tragedy in the history of our nations was written once and for all during the darkest hour of the Nazi German occupation, of which we are all still victims to this day.
“We do not consent to the escalation of the conflict between Jews and Poles that we are witnessing today.
“We, the Polish Righteous, who carry the burden of eye-witnessing the truth about the Holocaust along with the Jews, its victims, ask everybody for empathy, judiciousness, and thoughtfulness when creating laws; for responsible media coverage; and for honest and independent historical research.
“Only then can the issues that need to be explained, be explained. We ask for dialogue and kindness.”
It was addressed to Mr Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, as well as the speakers of the Israeli Knesset and Polish parliament.