So, Poland isn't so squeaky clean after all.
JERUASALEM -- A diplomatic crisis between Israel and Poland appeared to be deepening on Sunday as Poland’s deputy chief of mission, Piotr Kozłowski, was summoned to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem over a law approved by the Polish parliament making it a criminal offence to mention Polish complicity in crimes committed during the Holocaust.
Polish lawmakers voted Friday for a bill that would fine or jail people who blame Poland or Poles for **** atrocities committed on its soil during World War II, including the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. The law still needs final approval from the Polish Senate and the country’s president.
It comes as the country has become more nationalistic. Tens of thousands of people chanted and marched through Warsaw last year in an annual gathering of Europe’s far-right movements, and the majority party has sought to protect Poland's image.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs conveyed to Kozlowski the “particularly surprising and miserable” timing of the law, pointing out that Friday was the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was also the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in southern Poland.
Conveying a message from the Israeli government, the ministry said the “legislation will not help further the exposure of historical truth and may harm the freedom of research, as well as prevent discussion of the historical message and the legacy of World War II.”
Following the meeting, Kozłowski told Israeli reporters that the goal of the law “is not to whitewash history, but to sa***uard it and sa***uard the truth about the Holocaust and prevent its distortion.”
Even though several death camps, including the notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau, were built on Polish soil, Poles say they should be referred to as **** extermination camps or camps in occupied Poland, disassociating Poland from the **** crimes committed there.
Israelis, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reacted furiously to the law, seeing it as an attempt by Poland to re-write history and even deny the Holocaust. One Israeli politician was so angry about the law he faced off on Twitter against the Polish Embassy in Israel.
“One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement.