WARSAW, Poland — The influential leader of Poland’s ruling conservative party on Saturday accused “enemies” of the country of trying to fan anti-Semitism, as Warsaw is under fire over a controversial Holocaust law.
The new law sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term for anyone ascribing “responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich — or other crimes against humanity and war crimes” and set off criticism from Israel, the United States and France.
“Today, the enemies of Poland, one can even say the Devil, are trying a very bad recipe… This sickness is anti-Semitism. We must reject it resolutely,” said Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the head of the Law and Justice (PiS) party.
“But this doesn’t mean that we provide fodder” for those who insult Poland, he said.
Israel this month said it had observed a “wave of anti-Semitic statements” in Poland.
“Anti-Semitic statements are overflowing the internet channels in Poland, but they have become present on the main stream media too, especially on the TVP Info,” the Israeli embassy in Warsaw said.
A recent commentator on the state-run TVP station said that “we could say these camps were neither German nor Polish but Jewish. Because who operated the crematoria? And who died there?”
Another commenter had sent out a tweet using the Polish version of offensive term against Jews, “greedy kike”.
The main aim of the Holocaust law is to prevent people from erroneously describing Nazi German death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau as Polish, simply because they were set up on Polish soil.
Israel has expressed deep concerns that the legislation could open the door to prosecuting Holocaust survivors for their testimony should it concern the involvement of individual Poles for allegedly killing or giving up Jews to the Germans.
This week the Foreign Ministry reportedly warned the Polish government not to send a delegation to Israel to discuss the law unless it is prepared to amend the controversial legislation.
The ministry informed Polish ambassador Jacek Chodorowicz that it was not interested in Warsaw sending a high-level delegation to Jerusalem to discuss the law unless it would lead to concrete action, Channel 10 reported Friday.
“We don’t need you to send us a public relations delegation for a photo-op, or just to have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting,” the ministry’s deputy director general for Western Europe, Dr. Rodica Radian-Gordon, told Chodorowicz. “We are ready to dialogue, but only if its serious, professional, and legally binding.”
TOI Staff contributed to this report