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Israel rebukes Poland PM for Holocaust remark

Israel rebukes Poland PM for Holocaust remark

On Saturday the Polish prime minister, attending the Munich Security Conference, was asked by an Israeli journalist whether the reporter himself could fall foul of the law.

"The Polish prime minister's remarks here in Munich are outrageous", said Netanyahu from a security conference in Munich, Germany.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said the legislation "adversely affects freedom of speech", and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel compared it to a form of Holocaust denial.

Poland's government said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's comments saying Jews were perpetrators in World War Two as well as Poles and others, which were condemned by Israel, were not meant to deny the Holocaust.

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The Polish prime minister's office on Saturday tweeted a photo of Morawiecki with his hands clasped at the grave of fighters from a Polish underground military unit, known as the Holy Cross Mountains Brigade.

The next day, Reuters reported that the swastika graffiti had been found at the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Poland's prime minister said Sunday that dialogue with Israel about the Holocaust is necessary and would serve as a warning to prevent such "exceptionally terrifying" crimes from happening again. Among the most famous was Stella Kübler, who survived the Holocaust by detecting and betraying many other Jews to the Nazis in Germany.

"Attempts to equate the crimes of Nazi German perpetrators with the actions of their victims - Jewish, Polish, Romani among others - who struggled for survival should be met with resolute, outright condemnation", the government's statement also said.

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It says that "whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich... shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years". Netanyahu said that there was "an inability to understand history and a lack of sensitivity to the tragedy of our people", adding that he intends to speak to Morawiecki immediately. "Well, ladies and gentlemen, there were no Polish death camps, or Polnische Vernichtungslager, there were German Nazi death camps". Israeli critics have accused Poland of seeking to use the law to whitewash the role of some Poles who helped Germans kill Jews during the war. Jews from across the continent were sent to be killed at death camps built by Germans in occupied Poland, such as Auschwitz and Treblinka.

However, research published following the collapse of the Soviet Union revealed that thousands who remained in Poland also killed Jews and actively collaborated with the German occupiers, contrary to the national narrative of Poland as a victim.

More Poles have been honoured by Israel for saving the lives of Jews during the war than any other nation.

And while responding to a direct accusation that Poles had collaborated with the Gestapo, he claimed there were "Jewish perpetrators" just as there were Polish ones.

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