Poland gets back at Bennett

Poland penalizes Education Minister for statement in which he tells Poles 'the past can not be rewritten'; upcoming state visit cancelled.

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Yoni Kempinski, Warsaw,

Bennett delivering remarks at party meeting
Bennett delivering remarks at party meeting
Flash 90

The Polish government announced that it was canceling the planned visit of Education Minister Naftali Bennett into Poland, orignally scheduled for Wednesday.

Bennett voiced criticism on Monday for Poland's conduct regarding the law enacted in the country according to which anyone who mentions Poland's part in the Holocaust can be punished by up to three years in prison. The law was severely criticized in Israel and the Polish government attempted to say that it referred to official collaboration in the Holocaust, and that only a small number of Poles mistreted and robbed helpless Jews. .

"Following the passing of the law in the Polish parliament last week, I will travel on Wednesday to visit Poland, meet with the Polish Deputy Prime Minister and deliver a special speech to Polish students, the future generation in the country. The message to the Poles is clear: The past can not be rewritten, the future - we will write together," Bennett declared.

"My aim is to stand on Polish soil and establish the truth that no law can change: Many of the Polish people participated in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust, or handed over Jews to the Germans.

"The extermination camps were German camps on Polish soil, the Germans were the ones who initiated, planned, and operated them, and Germany must not be discharged of its responsibility," he said, adding that "the Polish state had been brutally occupied and 2 million Poles were killed during the war. It's true that thousands of Poles were Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save Jews, but they were the minority. The Polish people had many more who chose to join in the murder of Jews, or to assist in it, including the murder of my own family."

"We must not submit and we must not forget; I'm going to tell the truth where the truth occurred," Bennett concluded.

Upon hearing the remarks the Polish government was outraged, and frantic consultations ensued. While a delegation of Israeli journalists was in the country and held a meeting with the Polish Prime Minister, Israel's Education Minister was informed that his presence was not welcome and his visit would be canceled.