Vandals spray painted swastikas on the Polish embassy in Tel Aviv after Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki talked about what he called “Jewish perpetrators” of the Holocaust.
Israeli leaders immediately condemned his comment. The prime minister was responding to a reporter’s question about Poland’s new law punishing anyone who calls the Nazi genocide a “Polish crime.”
“Saying that our people collaborate with the Nazis is a new low,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said at a conference Sunday. “We stand together, hand in hand, in this fight. We have to stand strong for the memory of our brothers and sisters murdered in the Shoah (Hebrew for the Holocaust). But today, more than ever, we must work to educate the world, even some of the leaders, about that dark time.”
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he spoke with his Polish counterpart by telephone Sunday, telling him “a comparison between the activities of Poles and the activities of Jews during the Holocaust is unfounded.”
Ronald Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress, called Morawiecki’s comment some of the “very worst form of anti-Semitism and Holocaust obfuscation.”
A reporter at the Munich Security Conference Saturday asked Morawiecki if under the new law, he could be jailed for telling the story of how neighbors betrayed his mother’s family in Poland to the Nazis.
“Of course it’s not going to be seen as criminal to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian, not only German perpetrators,” Morawiecki replied.
He did not elaborate on who he regards as “Jewish perpetrators.” But he tweeted Sunday, “Dialogue about this most difficult history is necessary as a warning. We will conduct such dialogue with Israel.”
“The Holocaust, the genocide of Jews committed by Nazi Germans, was an extremely terrifying crime,” he further wrote. “There were also individuals who by collaborating with Nazi Germans, showed the darkest side of human nature.”
A Morawiecki spokesman said the prime minister was in no way trying to deny the Holocaust.
About 6 million Poles, half of them Jews, were murdered during World War II by Hitler and the Nazis.