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Poland: Israeli Holocaust study trips give ‘negative image’ of country, changes needed

Illustrative: Israeli high school students on school trips to Poland, where they learn about the Holocaust. (Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli high school students on school trips to Poland, where they learn about the Holocaust. (Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)

The Polish government wants formal rules to regulate the terms under which Israeli high school students pay Holocaust study visits to the country, including on the presence of armed Israeli guards, an official in Warsaw says.

Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz says the armed guards accompanying the youth groups, the visits’ focus on the Holocaust only, and a lack of contact with Polish youth have been giving young Israelis a “negative image” of Poland.

“There are also threads appearing (to suggest) that Poland is an antisemitic country and for that reason it’s dangerous here,” Przydacz tells Radio RMF24.

He says a new intergovernmental agreement should state in what cases guards with loaded weapons can be present. Warsaw has been seeking such a deal for months, Przydacz says.

Poland would also like young Israelis to meet with their Polish peers and understand their approach to Polish-Jewish history that spans many centuries.

The annual educational trips by thousands of young Israelis were suspended during the pandemic and last week Israel said it was not resuming them because Poland’s right-wing government was trying to control the curriculum.

Przydacz says the reason they have not been resumed is “because we believe that (they) should be regulated by an agreement between Poland and Israel.”

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