“The trips do not take place in a proper manner. They sometimes instill hatred for Poland in the heads of young Israelis,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Jablonski as relations with Israel further deteriorate.
By World Israel News Staff
As relations between Poland and Israel continue to deteriorate, Poland is reassessing future trips by Israeli students to the country, where they visit concentration camps as part of Holocaust education.
Poland’s president Andrzej Duda signed legislation Saturday that restricts the rights of former Polish property owners, including Holocaust survivors and their descendants, to regain property seized by the country’s communist regime.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid slammed the decision, calling it anti-Semitic.
“The new ambassador to Poland, who was supposed to leave soon to Warsaw, will not leave for Poland at this point,” Lapid said.
On Monday, Poland announced that it was recalling its ambassador to Israel.
Later that day, Blue and White MK Michael Biton suggested a step that could hurt Poland in its pocket just as the new law hurts people who will now never receive proper restitution for their wartime losses.
“The political crisis with Poland is an opportunity to change our education policy regarding the Holocaust and World War II,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Instead of bringing thousands of students a year to Poland to tour concentration camps and former ghettoes, “which supports Poland financially,” he suggested that their learning “can be much more significant here in Israel, while bolstering museums, heritage centers and memory projects,” among other endeavors. He also cited a need to expand their knowledge of the Holocaust beyond Europe, to what happened to Jews in North Africa as well.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski claimed that the trips promote anti-Polish sentiment among the young participants and said Poland will also be reconsidering future trips of Israeli students to the country.
“The trips do not take place in a proper manner. They sometimes instill hatred for Poland in the heads of young Israelis,” said Jablonski.
“This propaganda, based on hatred for Poland, is poured into the minds of young people,” he alleged. “We will examine the issue in depth because it is clear that the way these tours take place is not the right way.”
Each year – other than 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic – tens of thousands of Israeli high school students participate in Holocaust education trips to Poland, where they visit sites of Nazi atrocities, most famously the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, accompanied by educators and Holocaust survivors.