As Israel formally condemns Poland in its parliament the Polish President has hit back, with a statement that Poles "did nothing wrong".
President Andrzej Duda said that he would never allow Poland and Poles in general to be “vilified” though “false accusations.”
Duda seemed to be reacting to anger in Israel over a bill that would outlaw public statements assigning to “the Polish nation” responsibility for crimes committed by Nazi Germany during its World War II occupation of Poland.
Violations of the proposed law would be punishable by fines or prison terms of up to three years. A section of the bill exempts prohibited statements made “within artistic or scientific activity.”
>A diplomatic dispute between Poland and Israel over pending legislation that would outlaw blaming Poland for the crimes of the Holocaust has led to an outburst of anti-Semitic comments in Poland, including some in the government-controlled media.
>Poland's lower house of parliament gave its approval Friday to the bill, which calls for penalties of up to three years in prison for anyone who "publicly and against the facts" accuses the Polish people of crimes committed by Nazi Germany during World War II.
>Israel, along with several international Holocaust organizations and many critics in Poland, argues that the law could have a chilling effect on debating history, harming freedom of expression and leading to a whitewashing of Poland's wartime history, which also includes episodes of Poles killing Jews or denouncing them to the Germans.
>In a sign of the sensitivities on both sides, Yair Lapid, head of Israel's centrist Yesh Atid party and the son of a Holocaust survivor, insisted in a heated Twitter exchange with the Polish Embassy that "there were Polish death camps and no law can ever change that."