By Mara Vigevani/TPS
Knesset members across the political spectrum backed proposed legislation Wednesday that makes denial or diminishing of the role of collaborators with the Nazis in perpetrating the Holocaust a criminal offense.
The legislation, sponsored by MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union), MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) is an amendment to the 1986 Holocaust Denial Law and would also guarantee full legal protection for Holocaust survivors, educators and tour guides who may be prosecuted in a foreign country for relating historical truths.
The amendment, which has 61 signatories from Knesset Members, is a response to Poland’s adoption of a bill that calls for fines and/or prison time for people accusing Poland of “crimes against peace and humanity, or war crimes, or otherwise grossly diminish(ing) the responsibility of the actual perpetrators thereof.”
The current Israeli Holocaust Denial Law stipulates a five-year jail term for “A person who, in writing or by word of mouth, publishes any statement denying or diminishing the proportions of acts committed in the period of the Nazi regime, which are crimes against the Jewish people or crimes against humanity, with intent to defend the perpetrators of those acts or to express sympathy or identification with them.”
“Let the Poles and others , who might also follow them, know that the historical truth of the Jewish people is not for sale,” said Shmuli said “Many Poles, as well as others, heard, knew and aided the Nazi extermination machine. The Polish attempt to rewrite history and shut up the Holocaust survivors is rude, despicable and shocking. “
Lapid added that the Polish law underscored the need to act vigorously against Holocaust denial.
“We must act strongly and by all means, including in the Knesset, against attempts to deny the Holocaust.We can not forget. Not the Nazis, and not those who cooperated with them. This is our commitment to the memory of the millions of those who perished. The world needs to know – the Jews are not willing to remain silent and are not afraid anymore. “ he said