Thursday 28 May 2020

Poland in escalated dispute with Israel shortly after anti-Iran event

Poland has harshly responded to remarks by Israeli interim Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who has repeated his earlier comments that Poles “collaborated” with Nazi Germany in the killing of Jews during World War II.

Last week, Israeli interim Foreign Minister Israel Katz claimed that “many” Poles collaborated with the Nazis at the time and “suckled anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk,” angering the Polish government, which withdrew from a planned meeting in Jerusalem al-Quds in protest.


On Thursday, Katz doubled down on his remarks, saying he did not regret them and that he was telling “the truth.”


Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hit back hard on Friday.


In an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz, Prime Minister Morawiecki said Katz’ remarks targeted Poles too sweepingly and were “nothing short of racism.”


“We experienced terrible war and decades of occupation, and we were not able to defend ourselves from accusations. But now Poland will no longer give in to a pressure to accept lies, misleading phrases, let alone racist insults,” Morawiecki said.


“We are open to truth, even the most difficult truth about individual collaborators — but we will never agree to stretch their personal responsibility to the whole nation,” he added.


Katz had last week quoted former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir as saying that “the Poles imbibed anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk,” adding that “many” Poles have “collaborated with the Nazis.”


Morawiecki said, “When I first heard of this, it seemed totally unbelievable. Such words could be used by a radical extremist, but not by a foreign minister.”


“When you use these stereotypes that ‘every Pole suckled anti-Semitism out of their mother’s breast,’ it’s nothing short of racism,” said Morawiecki.

Katz’s earlier remarks prompted Warsaw to cancel participation in a planned summit by a number of Central European countries — known as the Visegrad Group — in Jerusalem al-Quds this week.


The event was effectively scrapped as a result of the Polish withdrawal.


Poland also last week summoned Israel’s ambassador to Warsaw over similar remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who on February 14 appeared to accuse the European country of collaborating with Nazi Germany against the country’s Jewish minority during WWII.


Israeli authorities later claimed that Netanyahu’s comments had been misquoted and misunderstood.


The tensions between Poland and Israel come just days after Warsaw agreed to host an effectively anti-Iran meeting, where American and Israeli officials freely bashed Iran. Many of Poland’s fellow-European countries had snubbed that meeting.


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