On Saturday, the Polish government passed a law that effectively prevents Holocaust survivors and their descendants from pressing claims to property confiscated by the Nazis or by the post-World War II Communist regime. Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid, roundly condemned the legislation and recalled the chargé d’affaires from the Israeli embassy in Warsaw. Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in turn responded with an angry statement of his own. Ruthie Blum writes:
To make matters worse, the country’s deputy foreign minister, Pawel Jablonski, said in an interview . . . that Warsaw is considering canceling Israeli school trips to Poland, where [students] visit Auschwitz-Birkenau as part of their Holocaust-studies curriculum. He asserted that “the trips do not take place in a proper manner; they sometimes instill hatred for Poland in the heads of young Israelis.”
He went on, “We are dealing with anti-Polish sentiment in Israel, and one of the reasons for this is the way in which Israeli youth are educated and raised. This propaganda, based on hatred of Poland, seeps into the heads of young people from an early age in school.”
Talk about chutzpah—or projection—not to mention delusion. As it happens, Israeli kids are not fed anti-Polish propaganda, certainly not in school. If any hear of horror stories about Polish anti-Semitism, they do so from their grandparents or other aging relatives, who experienced it firsthand.
To those who have urged Jerusalem to avoid alienating an allied country over an admittedly unjust law, Blum responds:
East European countries have been staunch supporters of the United States and Israel in a way that their counterparts in the Western continent have long ceased to be. . . . [But] Warsaw needs friends in the international community just as much as Jerusalem does, after all. Enacting anti-Semitic laws is not the way to keep the Jewish state in its corner.
More about: Anti-Semitism, Holocaust restitution, Israel diplomacy, Poland