Photo Credit: Yossi Zeliger / Flash 90
Polish president Andrzej Duda and then-Israeli President Reuven Rivlin attend a March of the Living ceremony at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland, as Israel marks annual Holocaust Memorial Day, on April 12, 2018. "The March of the Living" is an annual educational program that brings students from all over the world to Poland, to learn more and closely about the Holocaust.

Poland is mulling the pros and cons of blocking future March of the Living trips by Israeli students who make an annual trip to visit the country’s Nazi death camps, Ynet reported Monday.

“The trips do not take place in a proper manner,” said Poland’s Foreign Minister, Pawel Jablonski. “The sometimes instill hatred for Poland in the heads of young Israelis.


“We will make the right decisions about these trips,” Jablonski added.

“We deal with anti-Polish sentiment in Israel, and one of the reasons for this is the way in which Israeli youth are educated and raised.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry Slams Poland’s New Law
Jablonski’s statement comes in response to an ongoing verbal battle between Israel and Poland over the Eastern European nation’s new law blocking some 90 percent of Jewish Holocaust restitution claims.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement on Saturday night that Poland had become “an anti-democratic, non-liberal country that does not honor the greatest tragedy in human history.

“The negative impact on our ties began the moment that Poland chose to begin passing laws aimed at harming the memory of the Holocaust and the Jewish people in 2018,” Lapid said.

“Gone are the days when Poles harmed Jews without consequence,” he underlined.

“Today, Jews have a proud and strong country of their own. We do not fear antisemitic threats and have no intention of turning a blind eye to the shameful conduct of the anti-democratic Polish government”.

Lapid immediately recalled the charges d’affaires from the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw for “indefinite consultations” and confirmed that Israel will not send a new ambassador to Poland, at least for the time being. He also recommended that Poland’s ambassador to Israel likewise remain at home.

“He should use the time he has on his hands to explain to the Poles what the Holocaust means to Israel’s citizens and the extent to which we will not tolerate contempt for the memory of those who perished and for the memory of the Holocaust,” Lapid said. “It will not stop here.”

Poland: Israeli Anger ‘Seriously Damaging’
Poland’s foreign ministry responded in a statement that said Warsaw disapproves of Lapid’s behavior.

The Polish ministry added that its government “will take appropriate political and diplomatic actions, bearing in mind the principle of symmetry in bilateral relations.

“The steps taken by Israel are seriously damaging our relationship.”

Duda had issued a statement on Saturday about his decision, saying, “I made a decision today on the act, which in recent months was the subject of a lively and loud debate at home and abroad. After an in-depth analysis, I decided to sign the amendment,” he said.

Israel, European Jewry Slam Decision to Ratify
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett condemned the law and Duda’s decision to ratify it.

Bennett called the move “a shameful decision and a disgraceful contempt for the memory of the Holocaust.”

European Jewry likewise slammed Duda’s decision to ratify the law, saying it makes it much harder for Jews to claim restitution on properties appropriated and stolen during the Holocaust and Communist era that followed.

“This law is undemocratic, unjust and immoral,” said European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor.

“This is not bringing order to chaos as President Duda claims; it is making legal what should be illegal and is merely legalizing theft. The president had an opportunity to right the wrong created by the parliament, he could have shown moral clarity and leadership, but he chose not to.”

“Moreover,” Kantor added, “this law will also further highlight Poland’s unique position as the only country in the region which makes Holocaust restitution impossible and runs counter to its international commitments.

“It is outrageous that someone who survived the Holocaust, who will be in their later years, will still be deprived justice by this cruel, illegitimate and discriminatory law.”

Poland is Sole European Nation with No Restitution Fund
Poland never created any fund for compensation to Jews whose property was seized during World War II, unlike other states in the European Union, like Germany.

The Polish Constitutional Tribunal set deadlines in 2015 after which administrative decisions over property titles could no longer be challenged.

Among those deadlines was a 30-year limit for restitution claims. Poland’s Parliament adopted changes to that law last week, which was then ratified by Duda.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.