Israel warns of rising anti-Semitism in Poland

Israeli embassy in Warsaw warns against wave of anti-Semitic statements in Poland amid row on Holocaust bill.

Arutz Sheva North America Staff,

Building in Warsaw, Poland
Building in Warsaw, Poland

The Israeli embassy in Warsaw warned on Friday it has observed a "wave of anti-Semitic statements" in Poland, AFP reported.

The warning comes amid a diplomatic row between Poland and Israel following the approval of a controversial Holocaust bill that would make it illegal to suggest Poland bore any responsibility for crimes against humanity committed by Nazi Germany on its soil during World War II.

The legislation, which was approved by the lower house of parliament and the Senate, still needs the president's signature to take effect.

The bill would make the use of phrases such as “Polish death camps” punishable by up to three years in prison and would apply to both Polish citizens and foreigners.

Israel, however, has expressed concern that the legislation relating to the extermination of Jews by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II, could serve to deny the involvement of individual Poles in the Holocaust.

"In the last few days we could not help but notice a wave of anti-Semitic statements, reaching the Embassy through all channels of communication. Many of them targeted Ambassador Anna Azari personally," the embassy said in a statement on its website on Friday.

"Anti-Semitic statements are overflowing the internet channels in Poland, but they have become present on the main stream media too, especially on the TVP Info," it added, referring to the state-run broadcaster.

A recent commentator on the state-run TVP station had made the statement that "we could say these camps were neither German nor Polish but Jewish. Because who operated the crematoria? And who died there?"

Another commenter had sent out a tweet using the Polish version of an offensive term against Jews, according to AFP.

The Israeli embassy did not specifically mention these examples, but they triggered much criticism in Poland.

Wednesday night's vote in the Polish Senate on the legislation came despite an agreement between Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier this week, that the two sides would hold a dialogue in order to try to reach understandings on the controversial legislation.

Israel's Foreign Ministry responded on Thursday to the Polish Senate's decision to approve the law.

"The State of Israel firmly opposes the Polish Senate's decision," a ministry spokesperson said. "Israel views with gravity all attempts to harm the historical truth. No law will change the facts."

Meanwhile, Morawiecki said on Friday that finding a way out of a diplomatic row with Israel and the U.S. triggered by the controversial Holocaust bill was a "do or die moment" for him.

The State Department had urged Poland to reconsider the law before the vote in the Senate. On Thursday, the American embassy in Poland said it was “concerned about the repercussions” for bilateral relations of legislation in Warsaw about the Holocaust.

"This is a temporary weakening of relations with Israel and the USA but I hope that soon they will improve as we will explain our position," he was quoted as having told a group of foreign journalists.

"As a prime minister this a do or die moment. We will be explaining. It's an important moment," he added.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

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