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Israeli lawmakers author counter-bill criminalizing Polish Holocaust denial

Sixty-one members of Israel’s Knesset co-sponsored new legislation whereby exonerating Polish involvement in crimes against humanity during World War II will be considered a form of illegal Holocaust denial.

Israel Parliament members pose for a group picture at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27, 2010. Photo by Isaac Harari/Flash90.
Israel Parliament members pose for a group picture at the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27, 2010. Photo by Isaac Harari/Flash90.

In a direct response to a bill passed by Polish legislators criminalizing terms that link Poland to any involvement of the heinous crimes in the Holocaust, 61 members of Israel’s Knesset co-sponsored new legislation whereby exonerating Polish involvement in crimes against humanity during World War II will be considered a form of illegal Holocaust denial.

Israel’s Law for Defense Against Holocaust Denial already criminalizes denial or minimization of crimes against the Jewish people in the Holocaust, and is punishable with up to 5 years in jail.

The bill was co-sponsored by parliamentarians from parties across Israel’s broad political spectrum, with participating Knesset members from the Likud, Jewish Home, Zionist Union, Yisrael Beytenu and Yesh Atid parties.

Included in the bill is an amendment that would provide legal aid to any Holocaust survivor or educator who is charged with breaking any foreign law for recounting facts or personal accounts from World War II, including any information that proves Polish complicity.

The Polish Senate passed a bill Wednesday making use of the phrase “Polish death camps” or any language suggesting Poland had any responsibility for crimes against the Jewish people during the Holocaust illegal, carrying a maximum 3-year prison sentence.

Despite pressure from Israel and the United States, the bill is expected to be signed into law by Poland’s president.

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