Polish lawmakers denounce anti-Semitism

Polish lawmakers approve resolution marking mass anti-communist protests that occurred 50 years ago, condemn anti-Semitic purge that ensued.

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Ben Ariel,

Poland's Sejm (Lower house of Parliament)
Poland's Sejm (Lower house of Parliament)

Polish lawmakers on Tuesday approved a resolution marking mass anti-communist protests that occurred 50 years ago and condemning an anti-Semitic purge that ensued, The Associated Press reported.

Both the ruling party and the opposition backed the resolution on the 1968 events in communist-ruled Poland. The lower house of parliament voted 424-3 with two abstentions to approve it on Tuesday.

Students defending a banned anti-totalitarian play initiated the protests, which the ruling communist factions used in their infighting that climaxed in the purge of Jews, in which some 13,000 Jews were forced to leave Poland.

The resolution mentioned respect for those who "fought for freedom and democracy" and condemned anti-Semitism and the "communist organizers of anti-Semitic persecution", according to AP.

The passing of the resolution comes amid tensions between Poland and Israel over Poland’s controversial Holocaust law.

The law, which was approved by the Polish Senate and then signed by the president, allows a sentence of up to three years in prison for anyone ascribing "responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich." It applies to both citizens of Poland as well as foreign citizens.

Poland's right-wing government has faced international criticism over the law, which was meant to protect Poland from false accusations of complicity in the Holocaust.

Israel sees it as a bid to deny the participation of individual Poles in killing Jews or handing them over to the Nazis. It is also concerned the legislation could open the door to prosecuting Holocaust survivors for their testimony, something that Poland denies.

A high-level Polish government delegation visited Israel last week in a bid to reach agreements over the controversial law, but the sides were unable to agree on a compromise.

In addition to Israel, the Polish law has also been criticized by the U.S. State Department, the French Foreign Ministry, and certain Jewish organizations.