Mateusz Morawiecki
Mateusz Morawiecki Reuters

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Sunday called on Poles to refrain from making anti-Semitic statements, AFP reported.

His call came at a time when the country is under fire over a controversial Holocaust law, signed by President Andrzej Duda last week, and which sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone ascribing "responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich -- or other crimes against humanity and war crimes."

"I would like to invite every one of you to contribute to positive thinking... to avoid anti-Semitic statements, because they are grist to the mill for our enemies, for our adversaries," Morawiecki was quoted as having said at a town hall meeting in the eastern city of Chelm.

"Let's avoid it like the plague, even the dumb, unnecessary jokes. Most importantly, let's all explain together how things really were," he added.

Morawiecki's comments echo those of the influential head of the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

"Today, the enemies of Poland, one can even say the Devil, are trying a very bad recipe... This sickness is anti-Semitism. We must reject it resolutely," Kaczynski said on Saturday.

Israel has expressed concern that the Polish 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.

The United States has similarly expressed concern over the law. The State Department urged Poland to reconsider the law before it was approved by the Senate. Later, following the vote in the Senate, the American embassy in Poland said it was “concerned about the repercussions” for bilateral relations of legislation in Warsaw about the Holocaust.

Israel this month said it had observed a "wave of anti-Semitic statements" on the internet in Poland, and even in the country's mainstream media.

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 commentator had sent out a tweet using an offensive term against Jews.

On Friday, an advisor to Duda made controversial remarks when he said in an interview that anti-Polonism in Israel comes from a “sense of shame for passivity during the Holocaust.”

“Some people explain that the brutal crackdown on Palestinians or Hezbollah is also a form of releasing. Repeating to yourself: we will never go like sheep to slaughter again. Apart from everything, the Holocaust is also a monstrous humiliation – that they did not fight, did not resist,” added the advisor, Andrzej Zybertowicz.”

He also pointed out that there were Jews who collaborated with the enemy, who sold out and murdered fellow Jews and asserted Israel and its military infrastructure is a response to this shame.

“The Holocaust can never be repeated again. To avoid this, they built an intelligence machine, an army and a creative economy. They are to make them never passive and defenseless again. They will actively counteract any attempts at their annihilation,” he said.