‘Outrageous thievery’ – Israeli, US lawmakers slam Polish restitution law

Israeli politicians outraged as Polish law will likely end claims for Jews who lost property during the Holocaust and its aftermath.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israeli lawmakers spoke out against a new restitution law passed by Poland’s parliament on Wednesday, which would likely dismiss scores of pending claims stemming from Holocaust and Communist-era property confiscation.

After President Andrzej Duda signs off on the law, Poland will officially no longer consider claims for property confiscated more than 30 years ago, and won’t allow property confiscations which occurred longer than 10 years ago to be reversed.

The legislation has outraged Israeli politicians, who argue that the law would prevent Holocaust survivors and their descendants from claiming compensation for property for which they are the rightful heirs.

Knesset Speaker Micky Levy called the law an act of “outrageous thievery” on Twitter, adding that he was cancelling efforts to create a Polish-Israeli inter-parliamentary friendship group and that the law “desecrates the memory of the Holocaust” and harms ties between the two nations.

He called on Duda to veto the law.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the law is “an attempt to rewrite history, and to promote compromises and concessions at the expense of the memory of the] Holocaust…and the rights of Holocaust victims.”

“Poland knows what the right thing to do is — repeal the law.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken released a statement critical of the law on Wednesday.

Blinked said the U.S. is “deeply concerned that Poland’s parliament passed legislation today severely restricting the process for Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as other Jewish and non-Jewish property owners, to obtain restitution for property wrongfully confiscated during Poland’s communist era.”

Commenting on Blinken’s statement, Lapid said that he was holding debates with officials from the US government on the appropriate response to Poland’s legislation. “This won’t be tolerated,” he noted. “Poland cannot continue to hurt the memory of the victims.”

Gideon Taylor, Chairman of Operations of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, released a statement condemning the law, saying that it harms both Jews and non-Jews whose property was illegitimately seized by the Polish government.

“If this bill is signed into law by President Duda, the Polish Government will have effectively legally foreclosed the possibility for rightful owners to secure redress for what was taken from them,” he said.

Touching on Polish concerns that the nation is unfairly blamed for Germany’s actions during World War II, Taylor noted that “Poland is, of course, not responsible for what Nazi Germany did during the Holocaust.

“However, more than 30 years after the fall of Communism, Poland still benefits from this wrongfully acquired property.”