It Will Soon Be A Crime To Blame Poland For The Holocaust

AP Explains: How past wounds fuel debate over Polish law

AP Explains: How past wounds fuel debate over Polish law

Poland's President Andrzej Duda speaks during his media announcement about his decision on the Holocaust bill at Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, February 6, 2018. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the bill a "distortion of the truth" aimed at "rewriting of history and the denial of the Holocaust".

President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday signed into law a controversial Holocaust bill meant to safeguard Poland's image overseas but which has instead triggered an unprecedented diplomatic row with Israel and tensions with the United States and Ukraine.

Andrzej Duda defended the legislation, which will make it illegal to accuse Poland of complicity in such Nazi crimes committed under occupation.

However, some incidents of collaboration and pogroms undertaken by sectors of the Polish population were undeniably taking place, yet admitting this remains controversial in contemporary Poland.

"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.

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Israel's education minister has said he was "honoured" Poland had cancelled his visit to Warsaw this week because he refused to back down from condemnation of a bill that would outlaw suggesting Poland was complicit in the Holocaust.

In a gesture to Israel, Mr Duda said he would send it to the Constitutional Tribunal to check whether its regulations comply with the Polish constitution. The president's passing of the law is the final step the bill needs to be implemented into law.

The document states that the Polish law banning "crimes of Ukrainian nationalists" provides for a "biased and anti-historic definition of this concept, which opens up the road to manipulation and strengthening of anti-Ukrainian tendencies in Polish society".

The decision came after Polish authorities made legal reforms that the bloc says threatens the independence of the judiciary. Half this number is estimated to be Jews, while the rest were Poles and members of other ethnic groups. The law has sparked aggressive disputes within Poland as well as overseas.

It has caused a diplomatic crisis with Israel, which fears it will enable Poland to whitewash the role of Poles during the Holocaust.

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The bill was supported by 57 senators, mainly from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Party, 23 voted against the document, and two abstained.

"We are also concerned about the repercussions this draft legislation, if enacted, could have on Poland's strategic interests and relationships - including with the United States and Israel", U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said on January 31.

"No, there was no systemic way in which Poles took part in it", he said.

Before WWII, Poland was home to roughly 3.2 million Jews, the largest Jewish community in Europe. 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.

Duda claimed that the law will prevent the wrongful accusation of Poles and Poland of any such involvement. "Israel and Poland hold a joint responsibility to research and preserve the history of the Holocaust", the Israeli government said in a statement on Twitter.

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