USA condemns Polish president's decision to sign Holocaust bill into law

Polish president signs Holocaust bill triggers Israeli US criticism

Polish president signs Holocaust bill triggers Israeli US criticism

Israeli broadcaster ITON.TV commentator Alexander Gur-Arie said that "the wave of negative statements that were raised in Israel in connection with amendments to the Polish legislation related to the Institute of National Remembrance was largely caused by our internal political spats and a slight scent of elections that are already in the air".

"[The bill]... protects Polish interests... our dignity, the historical truth... so that we are not slandered as a state and as a nation".

"The United States is disappointed that the President of Poland has signed legislation that would impose criminal penalties for attributing Nazi crimes to the Polish state", Tillerson said.

Poland's right-wing government says the law is needed to protect the reputation of its citizens and make sure they are recognized as victims not perpetrators of Nazi aggression during World War Two.

Beata Mazurek, the spokeswoman for the conservative Law and Justice and a deputy parliament speaker, tweeted a quote by a Catholic priest who had said that the Israeli ambassador's criticism of the bill "made it hard for me to look at Jews with sympathy and kindness".

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Duda also said he would send the law, which will come into force, to the Constitutional Tribunal to rule on whether it conforms with constitutional guarantees on freedom of speech.

Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust overall.

The United States also strongly opposes the legislation, saying it could hurt Poland's strategic relations with Israel and the US. "The resulting divisions that may arise among our allies benefit only our rivals".

But anti-Semitism grew virulent in the decades before the war, driving many Polish Jews to emigrate.

A man crosses the iconic rails leading to the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was also to meet with Holocaust survivors and Righteous Among the Nations living in Poland.

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"[We] do not deny that there were cases of huge wickedness" in which Poles denounced Jews", Duda said in his Tuesday speech.

Repercussions for historiansHolocaust historians and other scholars in Poland and overseas came out firmly against the law, with many saying it will lead to self-censorship. 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.

Israel's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, reiterated its concerns Tuesday.

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

"We will certainly talk about our common history soon", Joanna Kopcinska, the spokeswoman, said in a statement sent to Reuters.

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The Holocaust law should be seen as part of a broader anti-EU narrative by the Polish government, Jan T. Gross, a historian at Princeton University in the U.S., told The New York Times newspaper. "This is also a question of our sensibility, which we are entitled to".

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