Poland's president to sign controversial Holocaust bill

AP Explains: How past wounds fuel debate over Polish law
Poland's president to sign controversial Holocaust bill

07 February, 2018

The parliament stresses the need to preserve and pass on to the next generations "the truth about true causes, not the ones that have been pulled out of the general context", which led to bloodshed between the peoples during World War II and other periods of history and which had tragic consequences for both peoples.

The Polish legislature's passage of the "Law on Institute of National Memory" on February 1 has provoked outcries of anti-Semitism and Holocaust-denying, especially from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with politicians up and down the Israeli political spectrum and elsewhere echoing his concerns.

"This organized mass murder was carried out by our country and no one else", Gabriel said, referring to the murder of 6 million Jews across Europe by Nazi Germany - including more than 3 million in then-occupied Poland.

Many of Poland's conservative lawmakers and commentators are now accusing Israelis and American Jews of using the issue as a pretext for getting money from Poland for prewar Jewish property seized in the communist era.

Polish minority and ethnic groups, including Jewish, Ukrainian and Russian, on Saturday urged Duda and other authorities to counteract all forms of xenophobia, although they did not directly call on him to exercise his veto on the bill. "The United States reaffirms that terms like "Polish death camps" are painful and misleading". However, both Israel and the United States have criticised it.

"(This bill). protects Polish interests. our dignity, the historical truth.so that we are not slandered as a state and as a nation", said Duda, an ally of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) which introduced the legislation.

Apart from causing rifts with close allies and drawing worldwide condemnation, the debate about the bill has also resulted in an intense focus on the very questions of complicity that nationalist Poles were hoping to sweep aside once and for all.

Before World War II, Jews made up 10 percent of Poland's population.

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"The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it".

Israel and global Jewish organizations have strongly criticized the proposal.

However, historians say others were complicit by acts such as informing on Jews in hiding for rewards, and participating in Nazi-instigated massacres including in Jedwabne where hundreds of Jews were murdered by their neighbours.

In response, Polish government spokeswoman Joanna KopciƄska said "no such visit will take place".

Duda has less than three weeks to sign into law or reject the Holocaust speech bill.

"Poland can be certain that any distortion of history such as the notion of "Polish concentration camps" will be clearly rejected and firmly condemned".

"But instead of choosing to have a dialogue with the Polish people, Bennett chose to speak to his voter base", Daniels said.

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