(February 1, 2018 / JNS) American and Israeli condemnation poured in on Thursday in the wake of a controversial bill passed by the Polish Senate a day earlier criminalizing statements linking Poland to the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.
The bill, passed the Senate by a vote of 57-23, less than a week after the bill passed through the lower house of Polish parliament, states that anyone who uses the term “Polish death camps or, “accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich … shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years.”
As a result of the legislation, which was denounced by the Israeli government as an attempt to cover up Polish abuses during WWII, the Jewish state canceled a planned visit to the country by Polish national security adviser Pawel Soloch, who was scheduled to visit from February 4-7.
“In light of the Polish Senate’s approval of the bill, Israel asked to postpone the planned visit in Israel of the head of the Polish national security council,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday.
American Jewish groups also reacted with outrage over the legislation, which is expected to be signed into law by Polish President Andrzej Duda.
“This is the wrong way to go about educating future generations about Poland’s role in the Holocaust,” Orthodox Union President Mark (Moishe) Bane said. Even though Nazi Germany obviously bears primary responsibility for the Shoah, the proposed law grossly minimizes the fact that Polish citizens did indeed commit heinous acts, on Polish soil, against the Jewish people and other victims during World War II.”
Similarly, the Simon Wiesenthal Center called the bill “an ill-conceived attempt to whitewash the widespread participation of individual Poles in the persecution and murder of Jews during the Holocaust.”
The Congressional Anti-Semitism Task Force, co-chaired by Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Kay Granger (R-TX), Marc Veasey (D-TX), and Peter Roskam (R-IL), also wrote a letter to President Duda urging him to reject the legislation.
“We are deeply concerned that this legislation could have a chilling effect on dialogue, scholarship, and accountability in Poland about the Holocaust, should this legislation become law,” they wrote.