Israeli foreign minister refuses to apologize for saying Poles ‘suckle anti-Semitism’

Comments by Yisrael Katz last week caused the Polish cancelation of a visit to Israel, but the minister insists he never said all Poles are anti-Semites.

By World Israel News staff

Israel’s acting foreign minister tried to defuse the diplomatic spat with Poland on Monday, but he is still refusing to apologize for his remarks last week regarding anti-Semitism in that country.

Warsaw has demanded an apology for Yisrael Katz’s statement that “the memory of the Holocaust is something we cannot compromise about, it is something clear and we won’t forget or forgive. Poles collaborated with the Nazis, and as [former prime minister] Yitzhak Shamir, whose father was murdered by Poles, said, ‘they suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk.’”

Those comments were a follow-up to a controversy that erupted after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, during a visit to Poland the previous week, that “Poles collaborated with the Nazis. It is a fact.”

The prime minister’s statement led to a Polish decision to downgrade a delegation that was to visit Israel last week from the level of prime minister to foreign minister. After Katz made his subsequent remarks, Warsaw canceled the visit altogether.

Poland said the comment by the acting foreign minister was racist. The U.S. echoed the sentiment.

Speaking on Kan public radio on Monday, Katz stressed that there is “close cooperation” between Israel and Poland and that Warsaw has been involved in efforts to stabilize the Middle East, referring to the recent Warsaw conference, which brought high-level Arab officials together with Netanyahu around the same table.

“The foreign policy of the Polish government entails close cooperation with Israel,” Katz said.