A diplomatic crisis developed over the weekend between Poland and Israel – and prime ministers from both countries are trying to resolve it.
On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2018, Poland introduced a controversial bill in Parliament that would outlaw blaming Poles for the crimes of the WWII Holocaust, making it punishable (with fines or a three-year prison sentence) for people to use such terms as "Polish death camps." Poland's complicity in the Holocaust is also officially being denied by the Polish government.
In reaction, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Poland's deputy ambassador for clarification, and instructed Israel's ambassador to Poland to meet with the Polish prime minister there to let him know of Israel's strong objections. Ambassador Anna Azari stated on Saturday that "everyone in Israel was revolted at this news."
The measure has passed in Poland's lower house of Parliament, but still needs the approval of the Senate and president. Israel expects Poland to amend the current legislation before it officially becomes law. The Associated Press points out that Netanyahu's government generally has had good relations with Poland, which has been recently voting with Israel in international organizations.
Historically, the Polish people were victims of Nazi tyranny. But they also contributed to the deaths of Jewish people in Polish concentration camps during WWII – and Poles were historically responsible for programs in other areas of Poland.
Six million Jews died in the Holocaust. It took the lives of more than three million Polish Jews. The German Nazi occupation of Poland systematically destroyed 90 percent of the Polish-Jewish population.
Israeli leaders hope to come to an understanding with Polish leaders before the controversial bill reaches final approval and becomes law.