Once Again, Poland’s Attempt to Whitewash History Clashes with Its Alliance with Israel

Feb. 20 2019

While in Poland last week for the international conference on Middle Eastern security, Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech at the Warsaw Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Responding to a question from a journalist, he stated that “Poles had cooperated with the Nazis; . . . there is no argument about this.” The Polish government responded in pique, declaring that its foreign minister, rather than its president, would now be attending the Visegrad summit scheduled to begin in Jerusalem on Monday. But then Israel’s newly appointed foreign minister, in an interview with Israeli television, quoted the former prime minister Yitzḥak Shamir’s inflammatory comment that Poles “imbibe anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk.” Now the summit has been called off altogether. The editors of the Jerusalem Post comment:

These [diplomatic] crises will continue so long as Poland’s government insists on whitewashing history. . . . The state-run Auschwitz Museum, for example, recently tweeted that,“talking about complicity between the [Nazi] occupiers and local civilian population in the history of Auschwitz is false,” despite massive evidence to the contrary in Poland and other Nazi-occupied lands.

Warsaw would do better if it stopped trying to cover up the role of many Poles in aiding the Nazis in their plot to exterminate the Jewish people. Over 90 percent of Polish Jews perished in the Holocaust. . . . The historian Jan Grabowski found that two of three Jews who asked Polish Gentiles for refuge were murdered, and that Polish [collaborationist] “Blue Police” slaughtered Jews who hid from the Nazis. There were pogroms before the German occupation; many Jews who survived the Holocaust and sought to return to their homes were murdered.

Jews should not allow these attempts at laundering history to stand. It’s also unclear how this benefits Poland. [Warsaw’s efforts to ban certain statements about Polish collaboration with the Nazis] have ironically drawn greater attention to the Holocaust in Poland and the role Polish people played in it.

Israeli-Polish ties are important. Netanyahu’s strategy of working with the EU countries that are more pro-Israel, such as the Visegrad states [of Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic], is a smart one—after all, the EU is our largest trading partner. But Israel should not and cannot let Poland get away with distorting the most tragic chapter in Jewish history.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Europe and Israel, Holocaust, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Poland

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship