Poland PM's comments on 'Jewish perpetrators' not Holocaust denial - government statement

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki speaks at the Security Conference in Munich Germany Saturday Feb. 17 2018

Critics of Poland's new law say it goes too far.

The Israeli leader, who like Mr Morawiecki was at the Munich security conference, criticised the Polish prime minister's "inability to understand history and a lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the law as an attempt to rewrite history and Holocaust denial.

In his television interview, Czaputowicz also referred to Sunday's incident in Tel Aviv in which unidentified people sprayed swastikas and vulgar, anti-Polish slogans at the entrance to the Polish embassy.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was responding to an Israeli journalist's question at the Munich Security Conference about legislation that makes it a crime to suggest Poland was responsible for the Nazi-era genocide.

Poland's government refused to apologize on Monday for Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's comments about "Jewish perpetrators" during World War II, escalating a row that's upended the country's relations with Israel and is alarming the U.S.

Israel rebukes Poland PM for Holocaust remark
Poland Stokes Holocaust Law Storm as Israeli Leader Lashes Out

An anti-racism group in Poland, Never Again, said it was "appalled" by Morawiecki's visit to the grave.

Warsaw has adopted the position that Germany, not Poland, is at fault for the Holocaust, though there is ample evidence of Polish collaborators in Hitler's so-called "Final Solution" of the Jews.

The Polish prime minister then defended the legislation that outlaws using the phrase 'Polish death camp' or otherwise implying that Poles were complicit in Nazi crimes during WWII.

At the same time, the global Jewish advocacy organization has been clear in opposing the new law and simultaneously determined to help defuse the crisis, if possible, between the Polish government and world Jewry.

Asked for her thoughts on whether the new law violates the right to free speech, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stopped short at taking responsibility for her own country's actions, remarking that "Germans are responsible for what happened during the Holocaust, the Shoah, under National Socialism".

Thousands of Poles are believed to have collaborated with the Nazis, resulting ion the death of many thousands of victims, according to Efraim Zuroff, Eastern Europe director for the Simon Wiesenthal Center. But research published since the fall of communism in 1989 showed that thousands also killed Jews or denounced those who hid them to the Nazi occupiers, challenging the national narrative that Poland was exclusively a victim. Thousands of non-Jewish Poles also rescued thousands of Jews from the Holocaust.

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