Photo Credit: Flash90
Yair Lapid with Holocaust Survivors, December 29, 2014.

Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) on Thursday picked up a fight with the country of Poland, home of Polish revisionism of the history of Jewish suffering.

What was Lapid thinking when he tweeted on Thursday: “Today, the Polish parliament passed a law preventing the return of Jewish property, or compensation for it, to Holocaust survivors and their descendants. I have no intention of remaining silent in the face of this law. This is a direct and painful violation of the rights of Holocaust survivors and their descendants. This is not the first time that Poles have tried to deny what was done in Poland during the Holocaust.”

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Not bad, Mr. Lapid, you’ll have no problem convincing us or our readers, but are you aware you just started a forest fire – in Babi Yar?

According to the Polish state news agency PAP, the Polish parliament on Thursday passed a bill making it more difficult for Jews to recover property seized by the Nazis and then kept by the Polish communist party. The law introduces a 30-year statute of limitation on Jewish claims and was passed in the lower house with 309 in favor, zero against, and 120 abstaining. The bill now moved to the Polish Senate for a debate.

Needless to say, Minister Lapid did not make friends in Poland with his brave statement. A senior Polish Foreign Ministry official told Kan 11 News that the foreign minister’s statement should be condemned and that it “showed a lack of knowledge, because like the Jews, the Poles were the target of horrific acts by the Nazis, and the law approved yesterday actually protects those Poles’ heirs from fake lawsuits and injustice.”

A source in Poland’s ruling party told Kan 11 that “the aim of the law is actually to stop most property claims, most of which have no connection between the plaintiff and the person who was allegedly harmed. Such claims cannot be allowed indefinitely.”

Minister for Social Equality Meirav Cohen responded: “Members of the Polish parliament should bow their heads in shame for yesterday’s move. The move confirmed the prophet Elijah’s rebuke: Would you murder and also take possession? (I Kings 21:19)”

On Thursday night, President Reven Rivlin sent a letter to Polish President Andrzej Duda, warning that “if the legislation is approved, it could infringe on the rights of Holocaust survivors and severely hamper our joint work to strengthen relations between the two countries, and ensure the partnership between our nations.”

The Jewish Property Restitution Organization told Kan 11 that if the law is approved, it would affect 90% of property restitution claims. One of the reasons for the law’s great impact is that it is retroactive, disqualifying not only future claims but also those already pending.

I’ve written a concluding paragraph to this story and rewrote it several times because the contempt I feel for Poland is not appropriate for a news report.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.