(February 18, 2019 / JNS) “Over the past year, the relationship between Poland and Israel has become a minefield in which every step is liable to result in a deadly explosion,” a Polish official involved in the efforts to re-establish constructive dialogue between the two countries following the diplomatic row over Poland’s controversial “Holocaust law” told me over the weekend.
It’s easy to understand the frustration of the Poles: They took a substantial diplomatic risk when they agreed to host the Warsaw conference on Middle East security, aimed at sending the world a message that the Middle East stands united against the subversive efforts of the Iranian regime. The conference was aimed at promoting U.S. policy on and Israeli interests concerning Iran. By hosting the conference, Poland sided with Washington and Jerusalem against the European Union, which continues to adhere to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. But instead of focusing on what really matters, the Israeli media has focused its attention on the Poles’ role in Nazi crimes by misquoting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Ever since the controversy erupted over the Polish government’s decision to make it illegal to hold Poles responsible for Nazi crimes during World War II, it has become clear that it is not just the importance of preserving the memory of the Holocaust that is driving certain officials’ criticism and rage against Poland, but rather an explicit desire to damage Warsaw’s close relationship with Jerusalem. No wonder those same people who seek to torpedo the warm relationship between Netanyahu and the Polish, Hungarian, Austrian, Italian and Czech governments are promoting an agenda that would see Europe meddle in Israel’s internal affairs.
What we have here is an alignment of interests: Members of the Israeli center-left will do anything to harm Netanyahu, including willfully destroying Israel’s foreign relations. The European Union, which is also interested in regime change in Israel in order to promote its Palestinian project, is interested in weakening the right-wing governments of Europe’s “wild East.”
These reckless politicians and media figures have created a volatile situation between Jerusalem and Warsaw. And the Poles are now wondering whether they should participate in a conference of the Visegrád Group countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), set to be held in Beersheva this week—a conference that was to be a significant achievement and an expression of the member states’ recognition of Israel’s special status.
Eldad Beck is an Israeli journalist and author.