TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday slammed Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki’s “outrageous” remark that Jews helped perpetrate the Holocaust, saying that the comment highlighted the Polish prime minister’s insensitivity.
“The Polish prime minister’s remarks here in Munich are outrageous,” said Netanyahu from a security conference in Munich, Germany.
“There is a problem here of an inability to understand history and a lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people. I intend to speak with him forthwith,” he said.
Speaking at the same conference earlier, Morawiecki dismissed criticism of a new bill passed by the Polish parliament that would make it illegal to blame Poland for any Holocaust-related crimes, after being asked by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman if discussing his family’s history of persecution by Poles would be criminalized under the new law.
“Of course it’s not going to be punishable, [it’s] not going to be seen as criminal to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian; not only German perpetrators,” Morawiecki said.
— חדשות עשר (@news10) February 17, 2018
Morawiecki’s comment was lambasted in Israel across the political spectrum, with opposition leaders taking to Twitter to express their outrage.
“Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki talks like the last of the Holocaust deniers. The blood of millions of Jews cries out from the ground in Poland over the distortion of history and escape from blame,” tweeted Zionist Union party leader Avi Gabbay.
“Jews were murdered in the Holocaust and Poles took an active part in their murder. The Israeli government must be here for the millions murdered and strongly condemn the Polish prime minister’s words,” he said.
Tzipi Livni, a Zionist Union MK and former foreign minister, said it was “moving to hear Ronen Bergman asking/attacking the Polish prime minister over the law that forbids mentioning the participation of the Polish nation in the Holocaust, as [Bergman] told his family story and received applause from the audience.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid blasted Morawiecki’s remarks as exemplifying “anti-Semitism of the oldest kind.”
“The perpetrators are not the victims. The Jewish state will not allow the murdered to be blamed for their own murder,” he said, while calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recall Israel’s ambassador to Warsaw.
The Polish Prime Minister’s statement is antisemitism of the oldest kind. The perpetrators are not the victims. The Jewish state will not allow the murdered to be blamed for their own murder. I again call upon the Prime Minister to immediately recall our Ambassador to Israel.
— יאיר לפיד (@yairlapid) February 17, 2018
Zionist Union MK Ksenia Svetlova said Morawiecki’s statement “shows his true face.”
“It should be remembered that according to the most conservative estimate 200,000 Jews in Poland were murdered by Poles,” she tweeted, adding that “the crisis with Poland is only getting worse and there is no room here for compromises.”
“If we don’t stand up for the truth, no one will do it for us.”
Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli said Morawiecki would be “blaming the Jews for their own Holocaust” next.
probably the next step of Morawiecki’s pathetic project to erasing the crimes of the Polish is going to be blaming the Jews for their own Holocaust and presenting the Nazis as victims of the circumstances.He would have to sue the 6M victims Jews+my state🇱before it will happen! https://t.co/wKmDv470Tq
— איציק שמולי (@ishmuli) February 17, 2018
Morawiecki said the new legislation aimed to stop assigning blame for Nazi crimes to the Polish nation or its government. He added that last year there were 260 instances in which Polish embassies were forced to counter statements mentioning “Polish death camps.”
“Whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich … or other crimes against peace and humanity, or war crimes, or otherwise grossly diminishes the actual perpetrators thereof, shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years,” a translation of the bill reads.
Netanyahu slammed the bill as “baseless.”
“We will not accept any attempt whatsoever to rewrite history. We will accept no restriction on research into historical truth,” he said.