Polish officials have rescinded their invitation to Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett for a visit to Poland this week.
Bennett, who censured the Polish government Monday over a law passed last week by the country’s Senate that criminalizes any attempt to connect Poland with crimes committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, was scheduled to travel to Poland this Wednesday to meet with Polish students as well as with the Deputy Prime Minister, and the Science and Higher Education Minister, Jaroslaw Gowin.
“The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it,” Bennett said in response to the cancellation. “The Government of Poland cancelled my visit because I mentioned the crimes of its people. I am honored. Now the next generation has an important lesson about the Holocaust of our people and I will ensure they learn it.
“This decision by the Polish government has a role to play in Holocaust education, even if they intended it to achieve something else.”
Bennett pointed out that although the death camps were indeed “built and operated by the Germans, and we cannot allow them to evade responsibility for these actions,” nevertheless, he noted that many Polish people, all over the country, “chased, informed or actively took part in the murder of over 200,000 Jews during, and after, the Holocaust.”
The minister underlined that just “a few thousand people, Righteous Among the Nations, risked themselves to save Jews. This is the truth. I accepted an invitation to a dialogue based on truth. The Polish government chose to avoid this truth.
“No legislation will change the past,” Bennett said. “As the Minister of Education for the state of the Jewish People I will stand tall, for I cannot forgive or relinquish the honor of those who were murdered.”
The official state visit was scheduled to convey Israel’s formal opposition to the recent approval of the legislation criminalizing any mention of collaboration by the country or its citizens with its Nazi occupiers.
“I am determined to clearly say that history has already confirmed that the people of Poland had a proven involvement in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust,” Bennett had told reporters in his statement Monday.
“The past cannot be rewritten,” he said. “The future will be written together.”
Poland’s president has not yet signed the measure.