Poland's Sejm (Lower house of Parliament)
Poland's Sejm (Lower house of Parliament)iStock

European Jewish Association (EJA) General Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin responded on Saturday evening to a Polish bill proposing to outlaw mention of Poland's involvement in the Holocaust.

The bill would apply both in and out of Poland, and would sentence those mentioning Poland's murder of Jews or "Polish death camps" to up to three years in prison. The Poles claim that the concentration camps in Poland were built and run by the Nazis after they conquered the country, omitting the cooperation of local Poles and their looting of Jewish possessions, as well as incidents such as the 1946 Kielce pogrom.

In a statement, Rabbi Margolin called upon Polish President Andrzej Duda to exercise his constitutional rights and veto the shameful resolution of the Polish lower house of Parliament (Sejm), which took place on International Holocaust Memorial day.

"This legislation is a slap in the face - especially coming on international holocaust Memorial Day - not only to the victims and to history but also to those Polish citizens who were deemed Righteous gentiles and saved Jews from Nazi extermination , who stood in stark contrast to those (too many) Polish citizens who cooperated with the Nazis," he said.

Rabbi Margolin has also instructed the EJA's legal advisers to examine all legal avenues to revoke the bill, and emphasized that in addition to the work in Poland, the EJA will campaign in the European Parliament and other EU institutions to have the bill revoked.

Meanwhile, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, issued its own statement opposing the new legislation.

"The new bill is liable to blur the historical truths regarding the assistance the Germans received from the Polish population during the Holocaust," Yad Vashem said in a statement, although "there is no doubt that the term 'Polish death camps' is a historical misrepresentation. The extermination camps were set up in Nazi-occupied Poland in order to murder the Jewish people within the framework of the 'Final Solution.'"

"However, restrictions on statements by scholars and others regarding the Polish people's direct or indirect complicity with the crimes committed on their land during the Holocaust are a serious distortion.

"Yad Vashem will continue to support research aimed at exposing the complex truth regarding the attitude of the Polish population towards the Jews during the Holocaust."

Earlier Saturday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, "The law is baseless; I strongly oppose it. One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied."

"I have instructed the Israeli Ambassador to Poland to meet with the Polish Prime Minister this evening and express to him my strong position against the law."