'No tolerance for Holocaust denial, Polish law must be changed'

Netanyahu blasts Polish bill banning mention of Polish complicity with Nazis during Holocaust. 'Zero tolerance for revisionism.'

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David Rosenberg, | updated: 18:33

Alex Kolomoisky

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on the Polish government to alter a controversial bill passed by the Polish parliament on Friday which would ban mention of Polish complicity in the Nazi Holocaust, vowing “zero tolerance” towards Holocaust denial and revisionism.

As currently drafted, the bill would make it a crime, punished by up to three years imprisonment, to accuse the Polish government or state of complicity with Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, or to refer to concentration camps built by the Nazi regime on occupied Polish soil as Polish camps.

While the bill has yet to be voted on by Poland’s senate or approved by its president, Friday’s vote sparked controversy, and drew criticism from senior Israeli leaders.

Israeli Premier Binyamin Netanyahu blasted the law on Saturday, calling it an attempt to re-write history.

"The law is baseless; I strongly oppose it," Netanyahu said. "One cannot change history and the Holocaust cannot be denied."

President Reuven Rivlin quoted former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski while calling the bill an attempt to “fake history”.

“One cannot fake history, one cannot rewrite it, one cannot hide the truth. Every crime, every offence must be condemned, denounced, must be examined and exposed.”

The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center also condemned the bill, calling it a “serious distortion” of history.

Prime Minister Netanyahu weighed in again on Sunday during a cabinet meeting, mentioning his call to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and pledging “zero tolerance” to Holocaust denial and revisionism.

"I have instructed the Israeli Ambassador to Poland to meet with the Polish Prime Minister this evening and express to him my strong position against the law," said Netanyahu.

“We have no tolerance for distorting the truth, historical revisionism or Holocaust denial. Last night I expressed my strong opposition, and I am sure that all ministers would agree, to the law passed in the Polish parliament last Friday regarding the Holocaust that befell our people on Polish soil.”

Netanyahu said that Israel had made clear to Polish leaders that the bill, which has yet to be finalized, must be significantly altered before it is adopted.

“The law is due to go through two more stages before it is finally adopted. I expressed our clear position that it must be changed. We will not accept any attempt whatsoever to rewrite history. We will accept no restriction on research into historical truth. On my instruction, our ambassador in Warsaw spoke with the Polish Prime Minister during a Holocaust memorial ceremony at Auschwitz last night and emphasized our positions. During the week, the ambassador and her staff will hold contacts on this issue with the entire Polish leadership, including the Prime Minister, the President and the Senate. The [Deputy] Polish Ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry this morning and heard the same exact things.”

On Saturday, Polish Premier Morawiecki defended the bill, tweeting that “Auschwitz-Birkenau is not a Polish name, and Arbeit Macht Frei is not a Polish phrase.”