Wave of criticism after Polish Holocaust bill signed

Polish President Andrzej Duda announces his decision to sign a legislation penalizing certain statements about the Holocaust in Warsaw Poland Tuesday Feb. 6 2018. Duda said that he will also ask the constitutional court to make final ruling on the

Far-Right Groups Demand Polish President Sign Holocaust Bill

Polish President Andrzej Duda is facing calls not to sign the bill into law within a three-week timeframe following its passage by the Polish Senate on Thursday.

But Duda said he would send the law, which has sparked an outcry in Israel, to Poland's highest court so it can assess whether it is in keeping with the Polish constitution.

The law will impose prison terms of up to three years for statements attributing the crimes of Nazi Germany during World War II to the Polish nation.

The proposed law has fueled a diplomatic crisis with Israel, which fears it would stifle discussion about the Holocaust and enable Poland to whitewash the role of the Poles who killed or denounced Jews during the German occupation of Poland during World War II.

Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it will continue to discuss the bill with Poland.

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Poland could be assured that "every form of historical falsification such as the term "Polish concentration camps" runs into clear rejection on our part and will be sharply condemned", Gabriel added.

Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, says Poland has made an "issue" out of its people's actions during the Holocaust and is denying the truth.

Future generations must internalize the lesson of the Holocaust, Netanyahu said.

Poland's right-wing nationalist government says the bill is necessary to protect the reputation of Poles as victims of Nazi aggression.

It would make it a crime to accuse the Polish state of complicity in the Holocaust.

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Israeli officials have voiced strong objections to the law, saying it is rewriting history. For the many Poles and their descendants that risked their lives to help the Jewish people - as indeed is recognised by Yad Vashem in the Righteous Among the Nations where over 25% of the overall honourees are Polish nationals - the use of "Polish death camps" is highly offensive.

"The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it", Naftali Bennett said in a statement late Monday. The Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw estimates that 180,000-200,000 Jews died at the hands of Poles or because Poles identified them to the Germans as Jewish.

Defending the law, Duda said it would not prohibit Holocaust survivors and witnesses from talking about crimes committed by individual Poles.

Some risked their lives and those of their families to shelter Jews; almost 7,000 have been recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" by Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center. 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".

"I do understand that the Polish government and ruling party would like to take care of the country's image, but it should be done through education, not legislation", said Klimek.

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