Israel-Poland relations teeter in wake of attack on Polish ambassador

Israel-Poland relations have been damaged by a spitting attack on the Polish ambassador in front of Poland’s Embassy in Tel Aviv.

By World Israel News

Israel-Poland relations took a further hit in the wake of an incident in which an Israeli man spat in the face of the Polish ambassador to Israel, with Poland insisting that the perpetrator be punished.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who labeled the act “xenophobia,” tweeted on Wednesday, “A racist attack on the Polish ambassador in Israel is an unacceptable situation.”

News of the attack, which was first reported by Israel’s Yediot Ahronot yesterday, has furthered sharpened disagreements between Israel and Poland, the paper reported on Thursday.

Problems began when Poland passed its Holocaust Law on February 1, 2018, which criminalized accusations that Poland was complicit in the Holocaust. Facing backlash, Poland reformed the law five months later, making it only a civil offense.

Despite the efforts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Poland’s Prime Minister Morawiecki to improve relations based on shared interests regarding many other issues, the topic of the Holocaust has created an underlying tension between the two countries.

An otherwise successful effort to gather support against Iran at a Warsaw Conference hosted by Poland was nearly overshadowed by comments Israel’s prime minister made at the time saying “Poles cooperated with the Nazis.”

The issue was further exacerbated when Israel’s Acting Foreign Minister. quoting Israel’s former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, said Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk.”

On Saturday, May 11, thousands of Poles protested against Holocaust reparations in Warsaw. The protesters shouted “No to claims!” and “This is Poland, not Polin,” using the Hebrew word for Poland.

Coincidentally, the Israeli who spat in the face of the Polish ambassador, identified as 65-year-old businessman Arik Lederman from the city of Herzliyah Petuach, had been at the Polish Embassy inquiring about the restitution of stolen property from the Holocaust.

According to Mr. Lederman’s lawyer, a security guard at the Embassy had called the suspect a “Jewboy.”

When Mr. Lederman left the Embassy he found himself blocked in by the ambassador’s car. He walked over, banged on the roof, opened the door and spit in the ambassador’s face. The ambassador documented the incident on his cellphone.

Israeli police are calling it an act of road rage.

Mr. Lederman has apologized for his actions. He is under house arrest.