While Naftali Bennett had planned to speak in Poland on Wednesday to address the new “death camps” law, Polish officials apparently quashed the visit.
By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett was slated to head to Poland on Wednesday on an official trip to meet government officials and students, as well as visit survivors and World War II memorials.
The Polish government, however, announced that it had cancelled the visit, ostensibly due to Bennett’s criticism of a Polish law that criminalizes calling any Nazi-run labor, concentration or death camp “Polish.” The Polish president has two and a half weeks left to sign it into law.
The Israeli government has taken the position that while it is true that the Germans ran everything in Poland during World War II, this legislation could put a damper on Holocaust research as well as help cover up the role of many Poles in the persecution and murder of Jews.
In a statement from his office, Bennet said, “I am determined to say explicitly [what] history has already proved — the Polish nation had a proven involvement in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.” He added that he will tell his hosts, “I came to tell the truth where the truth occurred – and it’s not dependent on any law.”
One of the sources on which Bennett could have relied in his talks in Poland is Polish historian Jan Grabowski, who wrote a book called Hunt for the Jews: Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland. Published first in his native country in 2011 and then translated into both English and Hebrew, Grabowski’s research has shown that more than 200,000 Jews were killed directly or indirectly by Poles in World War II.
Bennett was scheduled to meet with Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin, who is also the country’s minister of science and higher education, as well as members of Poland’s parliament, in addition to a group of Holocaust survivors and Poles who have been declared as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
At this time, Bennett’s visit has not been rescheduled.