The United States ambassador to Poland on Wednesday said that Acting Foreign Minister Israel Katz should apologize for his comment that Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk.”
“I just felt that two strong allies like Israel and Poland, of course they are strong allies of the United States, shouldn’t be using that kind of rhetoric,” the US envoy, Georgette Mosbacher, told reporters, according to the Reuters news agency. “We are too important to each other not to work these things out.”
The demand for an apology followed Mosbacher’s condemnation a day earlier of Katz’s remarks, when she tweeted that “there is no place for such offensive comments as yesterday’s statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz.”
Poland pulled out of a summit of Central European countries scheduled for Jerusalem on Tuesday, leading to the cancellation of the event.
Mosbacher has herself previously come under fire from the Polish government over comments on the country’s Holocaust history, saying during a nomination hearing last year that Polish legislation outlawing the blaming of Nazi crimes against Jews during World War II on Poland was responsible for rising anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe.
Katz’s comments came after Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had already said he would send his foreign minister to the summit in Israel in his place after tensions rose over the weekend due to comments by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Poles’ collaboration with the Nazis that his office said were misquoted by Israeli media.
Amid demands by senior Polish officials earlier Tuesday that Israel apologize for Katz’s remarks, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein defended his fellow Likud party lawmaker.
“It is the right of every senior Israeli official to tell the truth. For me, this is an example of the fragile relations between the countries,” Edelstein said during a meeting with American Jewish leaders, Ynet reported.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said that Netanyahu himself called Katz’s remark “an unfortunate statement,” when the two met Tuesday in Jerusalem, Babis recalled later in an interview with a leading Czech television channel.
“Both of us prime ministers have various ministers serving in our governments, and the only thing Prime Minister Netanyahu said to me was that he also considered Katz’s words an unfortunate statement,” Babis told the channel’s Middle East correspondent David Borek.