Poland loses Israeli tour group due to ‘outrageous’ comments on the Holocaust

Israel cancels plans to send National Service volunteers on a trip to Poland before Passover in reaction to the Polish premier’s statement that there were “Jewish perpetrators” of the Holocaust.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

After Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki threw another log on the fire over his country’s new Holocaust law by equating individual Polish perpetrators to supposed “Jewish perpetrators” of World War II during a press conference Saturday, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) had had enough.

Ariel, who is in charge of the National Service program in which young women and men who do not serve in the IDF but wish to contribute to the state spend a year or two volunteering in social service or internal security, cancelled plans to send a group to Poland next month. It was the first sanction by Israel against Poland since a bill criminalizing usage of the term “Polish death camps” and prohibiting and references to Polish involvement in the Holocaust was signed into law earlier this month.

The Polish premier’s remarks regarding “Jewish perpetrators” shocked and dismayed Israeli lawmakers across the political spectrum, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the comments “outrageous,” spoke for them all when he talked to Morawiecki on Sunday. “I told him that such a comparison is false,” he said.

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Poland “is trying to say that there were cases in which Jews collaborated with the Nazis,” Netanyahu told his counterpart, “but one cannot compare numerically, and the circumstances are entirely different as well.”

Outrage of a more civilian nature was also expressed over the weekend when someone anonymously scrawled a swastika on the entrance gate to the Polish embassy in Tel Aviv and wrote, “Polish same sh**.” Police have opened an investigation to locate the culprit.

Meanwhile, Morawiecki’s office released a statement on Sunday saying that the premier “by no means intended to deny the Holocaust, or charge the Jewish victims of the Holocaust with responsibility for what was a Nazi German-perpetrated genocide.” His words, the statement added, “should be interpreted as a sincere call for open discussion of crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust, regardless of the nationality” of those involved.