Poland forces Israeli delegation to cancel Holocaust speech

Polish authorities demand delegation led by Israeli mayor censor planned speech on Holocaust, force cancellation of event.

David Rosenberg,

Jewish students visit site of Auschwitz death camp in Poland
Jewish students visit site of Auschwitz death camp in Poland
Yossi Zeliger/Flash 90

The recently-passed ‘Holocaust Law’, which bans discussion of Polish collaboration during the Holocaust, forced an Israeli delegation visiting Poland to cancel a planned event, after local authorities demanded the keynote speaker remove key portions of his address, Channel 2 reported.

A student delegation, led by Kiryat Bialik Mayor Eli Dukorsky, travelled to the city of Radomsko, a sister city of Kiryat Bialik, and was slated to include a joint event featuring the mayors of both towns.

Shortly before the event took place on Monday, Polish authorities demanded Mayor Dukorsky turn over the text of his planned speech for inspection.

After he complied with their demands, the mayor of Radomsko informed Dukorsky that he would not be allowed to give the address as it was written, and would have to remove references to Polish citizens who turned Jews over to the German army during the Holocaust.

Dukorsky then consulted with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which urged him not to comply with the demand. The Israeli Foreign Ministry then turned to the Polish government, stating that Israel “rejects any attempts at censorship” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said.

“We support the mayor’s right to give his address as originally planned, without removing a single word or even a letter.”

After Dukorsky told the local authorities that he would not comply with their demands, the joint event was cancelled. The Israeli delegation then held a separate event, where Dukorsky gave his speech in its entirety.

On March 1st, the controversial Holocaust law went into effect in Poland, a month after President Andrzej Duda signed the bill into law, after it passed by wide margins in both chambers of the Polish legislature.

The law bans the phrase “Polish death camps”, and outlaws claims of collusion by the Polish nation with the Holocaust.

Anyone found guilty of ascribing “responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich” could be sentenced to as much as three years in prison under the new law.

The Holocaust censorship law drew heavy criticism from the Israeli government, with the US State Department also expressing opposition to the bill. Polish opposition parties also criticized the law, and proposed to amend the bill.

The Yad Vashem, World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem opposed the law as well, while also noting that blaming Poles for the Holocaust and use of the phrase “Polish death camp” is unfair.


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