Editor’s note: The following are translated excerpts from a recent interview with Moshe Feiglin on Reshet Bet Radio.
Poland has been trying to change the narrative in our collective memory, which somewhat blames the Poles for their cooperation under the German conquest.
I think the Polish Law is our fault. It was legislated through the legs of the Israeli marchers who go on the March of the Living in Poland, through the legs of Israeli visitors in Warsaw, and through the speedy normalization of our diplomatic relations with Poland. The Polish parliament simply signed on to what we had written with our marches.
How can Israelis who march in Poland be responsible for a Polish law that attempts to change the way we remember the Holocaust?
What is the sub context of these visits? What is the hidden meaning behind our conduct? It’s that the Polish nation has no connection to what happened. Visiting the places where the horrors were perpetrated certainly benefits our short-term memory of the Holocaust, but we disconnect from the fact that the people of the country we are visiting slaughtered our parents. Its ground is drenched with the blood of our relatives, which, on a historic timeline, was spilled a very short time ago. As if we were visiting the pyramids…
Do you visit Germany?
Certainly not. I was never there and never will be there. I am not saying Israel must completely sever its relations with all of Eastern Europe and Germany. I understand that we need to maintain minimal correct relations. But we must reduce those relations to the bare minimum.
As someone who travels to Poland quite frequently, I think the Polish law stems from a different place. The Poles feel that while Israel has forgiven Germany, perhaps because of the reparation payments, it has not forgiven the Poles. This despite the fact that six million Poles were murdered during the Holocaust: three million Jews and three million Catholics.
There is some justice in their approach. We must remember that the public debate over German reparations tore Israeli society apart. Our generation has raced to the arms of the “different” Germany and the “different” Poland.
But memory detached from the implications of that memory is meaningless. Even today, we fast on the 9th of Av and do not suffice with simply learning the history of the destruction of the Temple. If we did not take the memory of the Temple to our individual personal lives, its memory and destruction would have disappeared long ago.
The same holds true in this case. We have turned our visits to Poland and, later, our tourism in Poland into to something that completely detaches us from the memory of the Holocaust.
What do you suggest?
Israel has to take a step backward. We have to coldly reduce our diplomatic and trade relations to the minimum needed for normal existence. We are currently enabling those nations that slaughtered us to shirk the historic memory.
How would Israel cool its relations with Poland?
For example, I will not visit Germany, and I do not purchase German products. When I was an MK, there was a veritable air-shuttle service bringing MKs to Poland for the March of the Living, I didn’t go. When the president of the European Parliament came to the Knesset and spoke in German, I opposed that and exited the plenum. There are things that every individual can do.
Do you oppose the youth visits to Poland?
Absolutely. While they contribute to our immediate memory of the Holocaust, in the long term they contradict the implications of the Holocaust and, in a sense, contribute to its denial. The result is the conduct of the Polish, as we have seen. In the future, the Germans will also do the same. No doubt about it.
It wasn’t the Polish government that slaughtered the Jews. Poland was under occupation.
That’s why I referred to the Polish nation during the Holocaust and not to its government. But we cannot escape the fact that, although there were Poles and Germans who saved Jews, the Poles are an anti-Semitic nation. As a nation, most of them happily participated in the slaughter and even initiated it.