Poland-Israel ties fray as Polish president brands Israeli foreign minister’s remarks ‘offensive’

Duda showed his displeasure with Israel’s foreign minister over remarks made in February.

By World Israel News Staff

Polish President Andrzej Duda criticized Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz in a Monday evening interview with Channel 11, referring to remarks he had made in February that have apparently still not been forgiven by the Polish government.

Katz, on his first day as foreign minister, managed to damage Israeli-Polish relations when he said Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk.” Poland immediately pulled out of a Jerusalem conference in protest.

Duda said in the Monday interview, “There are Jews who were born in Poland before World War II and survived the Holocaust, who think Poland and the Poles deserve an apology. I have no doubt that these words were very offensive towards us and our country.”

The injury continues to fester as Duda was recently denied the right to speak at the Holocaust memorial event this week in Jerusalem marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Duda cancelled his participation as a result.

Duda appeared to downplay the Jerusalem event. “As far as I’m concerned, the main event is here,” Duda said.

“I believe, and I have always believed, that these events on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day should take place in Auschwitz and that this is the most important place to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust,” he said.

“So this year, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the camp’s liberation, the same international events, which [Israeli] President Reuven Rivlin will attend by the way, will be held on the grounds of the Auschwitz camp.”

Columnist Caroline Glick, writing for JNS, says that Duda very much wanted to attend and both Israel and the U.S. wanted him to be there.

“For four months, Duda asked to be permitted to speak at the conference,” she writes, adding the requests became urgent after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Poland of supporting the Nazis.

“It was important for Duda to speak at the conference in Jerusalem in order to respond to Putin’s accusations. It was doubly critical for the Poles that Duda be afforded the right to speak because they rightly believe it likely that Putin will use his speech at Yad Vashem to double down on his historical revisionism,” Glick writes.

The Polish president made his reasons clear, saying he must be allowed to speak in order “to respond to the lies of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Glick says that Rivlin is the one who rejected Duda’s request. His reasons for doing so are not clear. She says Israel-Polish relations continue to suffer as a result.