(February 6, 2018 / JNS) Poland’s President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday signed into a law a controversial bill that makes it a crime for anyone to suggest Polish complicity in the Holocaust.
But reports indicated that Duda will ask Poland’s constitutional court to evaluate the bill, which leaves open the possibility that the law can be amended.
“We hope that within allotted time until the court’s deliberations are concluded, we will manage to agree on changes and corrections,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry stated.
Following the signing of the law, comments denouncing the measure poured in from the U.S. and Israel.
“The United States is disappointed that the President of Poland has signed legislation that would impose criminal penalties for attributing Nazi crimes to the Polish state,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The U.S. reaffirmed “that terms like ‘Polish death camps’ are painful and misleading,” but added that “we believe that open debate, scholarship, and education are the best means of countering misleading speech.”
Similarly, the Jerusalem-based Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center said it is “unfortunate” that the law was signed.
“These flaws are liable to result in the distortion of history due to the limitations that the law places on public expressions regarding the collaboration of parts of the Polish population—either directly or indirectly – in crimes that took place on their own land during the Holocaust,” Yad Vashem said.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center called the law a “cowardly surrender to the practitioners of extremist politics.”
“Poland has now turned Holocaust distortion into law and joins the ranks of forces who are attempting to evade any historical responsibility for the crimes Holocaust,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s associate dean.
“It is a sad day for Poland,” said Agnieszka Markiewicz, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Warsaw-based Central Europe office. “It is painful to see Poland, which has made such remarkable strides as a country since the dramatic events of 1989, suddenly in a deep crisis with Israel, a strategic partner; with the Jewish world, which had begun to show so much interest in the country; and, yes, with the United States, an essential ally.”