In his gut reaction, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was right: What type of law would negate the return to Polish Jews of property stolen during the Holocaust? Sometimes, however, you need to be smart, not just right. It isn’t just the Holocaust, which ended 76 years ago, that defines our identity; Israeli governments also have an obligation to prevent future Holocausts and ensure the future and security of Israel.
We shouldn’t be preoccupied only with the Nazi and Polish anti-Semitism of past generations—there is anti-Semitism in our own streets today. Including in the propaganda put forth by at least one important component of the coalition that Lapid is overseeing. This is not a reference to Ra’am Party head Mansour Abbas.
There’s also no need to employ such slogans as “a different Poland,” as a certain Israeli prime minister did 70 and 60 years ago regarding Germany. There is Germany and there is Nazi Germany, and Israel made deals with Konrad Adenauer and cooperated with Germany to strengthen its strategic and security footing. At the same time, very important individuals in the West German and East German governments were former SS members.
Has Poland done any introspection and gone through the “process” of processing its history of guilt? No, it hasn’t. But Poland is also not Germany, and Poland’s resistance to efforts to partially blame it for the Holocaust, through emphasizing the death camps established on Polish soil, is right.
The important thing though, is that the Poland of today, despite its nationalism, is a type of ally—or was, until elements in Israel decided to gradually destroy relations with it. The cooperation with it in terms of military aviation is a cornerstone of our national security. The Poles also buy weapons and other systems from us. Poland is also an important potential partner for Israel, together with the member countries of the Visegrad Group (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), with regard to Israel’s effort to crack the anti-Israel Western-European bloc.
It’s also worth noting that despite the desecration of Jewish gravestones in Poland, Jews living there today are safer than the Jews living in France and even some parts of the United States.
One gets the sense that the Biden administration and the Bennett-Lapid government are trying to destroy the Trump-Netanyahu diplomatic legacy. The Biden administration is adhering to a document circulated by Robert Malley’s International Crisis Group organization, outlining the goal of erasing Trump’s entire strategic legacy. This includes Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the nuclear deal, and certainly Trump’s peace plan. Lapid is making a mistake by repeating his blunt and righteous sentiments instead of noticing that the Poles are inviting him to a dialogue on the legislation issue.
Amnon Lord is an Israeli journalist with the daily newspaper “Makor Rishon.” His articles and essays about media, film and politics have been published in “The Jerusalem Post,” “Mida,” “Azure,” “Nativ” and “Achshav.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.