Poland’s New Restitution Law Isn’t about Property, but Rewriting History

Earlier this month, the Polish president signed into law a bill that makes it impossible for Jews to pursue claims to property stolen during and immediately after World War II. Ben Cohen sums up a recent discussion of the issue among four prominent Polish historians:

[T]he real purpose of the recent reform to the Code of Administrative Procedure—as well as the [law that] allows for civil prosecutions of historians who research . . . Polish collusion with the Nazis—was to help transform the Holocaust from a Jewish trauma into a Polish one. The success of that narrative . . . depends in large part on excluding from historical inquiry the topic of the collusion of elements of the population in Poland, a country with a long history of anti-Semitic agitation, with the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

One of the leading Polish scholars of World War II, Jan Gross, added:

[The defense of the new law] one hears from the right-wing nationalists [is] that the Jews are trying to seize property. This is presented as the expropriation of the Poles, and it becomes a major scandal. At the same time, the Polish government is demanding restitution from the Germans for damages incurred during the Nazi occupation, which they estimate at $850 billion. When this issue is brought up, you hear that the number of Poles killed [in World War II] was six million—that number is not a coincidence. However, the real number is under five million, and that is when we include the three million Polish Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

So the potential scandal which is on the verge of unfolding is when the Jewish community, which rightly considers itself to have been robbed, learns that the Polish regime intends to request compensation from Germany for Jewish property that was destroyed during the war.

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Holocaust, Holocaust restitution, Poland


What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship