The deeply rooted anti-Polish sentiment in Israel brought a virulent outbreak of hysteria in Knesset yesterday. What started with Yair Lapid’s lies about “Poles who killed his grandmother” and with a highly contagious burst of over-the-top generalizations 10 days ago, has turned into open hostility now. Yesterday, several Israeli Members of Knesset called on to expel Polish diplomats from Tel Aviv, and bring back the ambassador Anna Azari to Israel.
We quote some of the Israeli politicians commenting the yesterday’s decision of the Polish President Andrzej Duda to sign the amended antidefamation bill:
“The President of Poland chose to stick to the miserable stance of distorting the facts and denying the Holocaust … Israel cannot stand silent over this, and we must bring back the Israeli Ambassador to Poland immediately and expel the entire Polish diplomatic staff from Israel … It is completely clear that the Final Solution for the Jewish Problem at every stage is the responsibility of the Nazi regime, but we cannot deny the fact that Poles took a direct part in murdering Jews during the Holocaust” – Shulamit “Shuli” Mualem-Rafaeli, Orthodox Jew, nurse and member of Knesset.
Our comment: Ms. Mualem-Rafaeli, do you think that Poland will accept your false allegations of Holocaust denial, if the diplomatic staff is expelled? Would it not be better to refrain from escalation and arrogance? Would it not be better to facilitate a political and scientific dialogue instead? Let scholars scrutinize, let them investigate (as the Polish bill does) the alleged Polish (and Jewish) collaboration with the Nazis. To start with, let us call the “Nazis” by their name, “Nazi Germans”.
“It’s absurd that a shameful bill like this, that is trying to rewrite the horrible history of Jews in Poland, was authorized, when everyone knows the Polish people took part in the horrors that took place in the Holocaust. It’s an insult and shames all of us, and mostly Holocaust survivors from Poland. The bill paves the way for Holocaust deniers, and the Polish government has the responsibility to cancel it quickly and apologize to the survivors” – Merav Ben-Ari, member of the Knesset for Kulanu.
Our comment: Ms. Ben-Ari, you have a BA in law and government, but you portray the complexities of the WWII as black and white, good vs. evil, Poland vs. Israel. Have you ever heard, that the number of Poles rescuing Jews was 40-50 time higher than the number of the Polish “szmalcowniki”? Have you ever heard, that ethnic Poles, in contrast to many other European nations, had never volunteered for the German Waffen-SS units? Have you ever heard about Eleke Scherwitz, the Jewish SS Officer and head of the Riga concentration camp known as Lent? We will tell you: Scherwitz lived high and acted as a Nazi elite. He killed Jews, but he also used his SS status to save hundreds of them. You owe an immediate apology to us and to 3 million Polish WWII victims. Poland owes you nothing!
“Poland is going down in history as the first country that passed a law denying the Holocaust. No shameful law will erase history” – Itzik Shmuly, member of the Knesset for the Zionist Union
Our comment: Mr. Shmuly, for your struggle for social justice and support for disadvantaged populations you earned once the title of “the most socially aware Knesset member”. Don’t you think, that Poles, who are lumped together with the Nazi Germans by the mainstream media, don’t deserve a historical justice? Have you ever read the text of the bill? Please show us, where it denies the Holocaust. Are you familiar with the IHRA definition of the Holocaust denial at all (https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/working-definition-holocaust-denial-and-distortion)? If not, then we will tell you: “Distortion of the Holocaust refers, inter alia, to attempts to blur the responsibility for the establishment of concentration and death camps devised and operated by Nazi Germany by putting blame on other nations or ethnic groups.” So don’t try to put the blame on Poland please!
“Israel made it clear to the Polish government that it will not accept any law that silences the history or the involvement of Polish citizens in murdering Jews during the Holocaust” – Tzipi Hotovely, member of the Knesset for the Likud and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Our comment: Ms. Hotovely, what about the Ghetto Police in occupied Poland and the Jewish Councils selecting Jews to Auschwitz? The Polish-Jewish historian and the Warsaw Ghetto archivist Emanuel Ringelblum described the cruelty of the Ghetto Police as “at times greater than that of the Germans, the Ukrainians and the Latvians”. You cannot build the strength of your nation on a selective memory. Seeing only the bad in Poland blinds you to what may be emerging as the greatest chance for Jews.
Image: policeman in the Łódź Ghetto (Wikipedia commons).