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Polish government cancels visit by Israeli minister over Holocaust remarks

The Polish government has cancelled a visit to the country by Israel’s Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett’s following a statement highlighting Poland’s involvement in the Holocaust.

Israel’s Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett. (Wikimedia Commons)
Israel’s Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Polish government has cancelled a visit to the country by Israel’s Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett’s following a statement highlighting Poland’s involvement in the Holocaust.

“I am determined to clearly say that history has already confirmed that the Polish people had a proven involvement in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust,” Bennett said early Monday. “I am going to speak truth, where the truth took place and it is not dependent on any law.”

Bennett was scheduled to visit Poland, which recently passed a controversial bill making it a criminal offense to say Poland was complicit in the Holocaust, to meet with Polish Science and Education Minister Jaroslaw Gowin to express Israel’s opposition to the bill as well as to tour Holocaust sites in the country and meet with Holocaust survivors and Righteous Among the Nations.

However, Bennett’s statements touched off controversy in the country, leading to the Polish government cancelling the visit.

Following the cancellation, Bennett said in a statement that “the blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it. The government of Poland canceled my visit because I mentioned the crimes of its people. I am honored.”

“Now, the next generation has an important lesson about the Holocaust of our people, and I will ensure that they learn it,” he said, adding that the Polish government’s decision “has a role to play in Holocaust education, even if they intended it to achieve something else.”

Additionally, Bennett said that while the death camps in Poland were built and operated by Germans, “many Polish people, all over the country, chased, informed or actively took part in the murder of over 200,000 Jews during, and after, the Holocaust.”

“Only a few thousand people, Righteous Among the Nations, risked themselves to save Jews,” he said. “As education minister for the state of the Jewish people I will stand tall, for I cannot forgive or relinquish the honor of those murdered.”

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