Last month, the Polish parliament passed a law, still being debated by the country’s senate, that would effectively cut off any Jewish efforts to reclaim property stolen during the Shoah and its immediate aftermath. Yair Lapid, Israel’s foreign minster and alternate prime minister, has already condemned the legislation. To Ben Cohen, the law is reason for Jerusalem to take severe diplomatic action:
The underlying purpose of the new law is to assert, against the historical record, that neither Poland nor the Poles themselves bear any responsibility whatsoever for the fate of the Jews, who are hypocritically remembered by the same nationalists as “our compatriots,” as though the brutal history of Polish anti-Semitism that long predated the German occupation [of Poland during World War II] never happened.
In getting that message across, senior Polish leaders from Prime Minister Mateusz Marowiecki downwards have played an extraordinarily dishonest game. For all its anti-Communist fervor, the [ruling right-wing party] finds it inconvenient to recognize that what is at issue here is not the German occupation, but the fact that the postwar Soviet-backed regime engaged in a second round of theft by nationalizing the property of the Jews murdered by the Nazis.
[While] many supporters of the Polish government like to argue that were it not for Warsaw’s presence in the EU, Brussels would treat Israel even more shabbily, but that claim is a conceit and nothing more. As the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel demonstrated, governments and political leaders in Germany, Austria, the UK, and other European nations did not require the intervention of the Polish government to express their understanding for Israel’s predicament with an empathy that would have been hard to imagine twenty years ago.
The passage of the restitution law, therefore, necessitates at least a temporary break in ties between the current Polish government and the state of Israel and Jewish groups worldwide.