Polish President Will Sign Holocaust Law

Posted February 07, 2018

Polish President Andrzej Duda announced on Tuesday he will sign controversial legislation penalizing certain statements about the Holocaust.

But in a move that appeared created to soften the impact of his decision, President Andrzej Duda said he would also ask Poland's constitutional court to evaluate the bill - leaving open the possibility it would be amended.

Of the 3.2 million Jews who lived in Poland before World War II, over three million were killed under the Nazi regime.

On Friday, the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw said Israel did not oppose Poland's fight to stop the use of the phrase "Polish death camps", saying the proper term for sites such as Auschwitz was "German Nazi camps".

Israel's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it would continue to communicate with Poland despite its reservations about the law.

Neumann, head of the party's parliamentary caucus, also described the constitutional court as a body without independence that will rule as the governing party wants.

The bill has drawn criticism from the United States and condemnation from a number of worldwide organisations as well as Polish minority groups.

It is not clear whether the Constitutional Tribunal will ask for any changes, as it is controlled by Poland's conservative ruling Law and Justice party. Many people were surprised when lawmakers suddenly approved it on January 26, the day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day .

While "Polish" is nearly always used as a geographic description in that context, Poles feel the phrase cruelly portrays their country as having been in charge of the Nazi-run camps, while in fact Poles made up the largest group of victims after Jews.

Israel slammed the new proposed legislation, emphasizing that Poland was instrumental in the extermination of Jews during World War II.

Israeli officials have voiced strong objections to the law, saying it is an attempt to rewrite history.

"The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it", Bennett later said in a statement. It said in a statement that the law's "flaws are liable to result in the distortion of history due to the limitations that the law places on public expressions". "But many Poles all over their country informed, handed over or participated themselves in the murder of some 200,000 Jews during the Holocaust and even afterward", Bennett said Monday.

Earlier on Monday, Naftali Bennett said he would travel to Poland to discuss the bill, which Israeli officials have said amounts to Holocaust denial.

"I know the Jewish people and acknowledge that there were Polish criminals who murdered Jews during the Holocaust", he said.

Like people in other parts of German-occupied Europe, Poles reacted to the mass killing of Jews in different ways.

The current Polish government is guilty of believing that you can legislate in too many areas of social life and that you can force people to be historically accurate; this is likely to be a gross misstep.