Anti-Semitic Israel, Polish Slanging Match Sinks Relations to All Times Low

Published February 18th, 2019 - 10:50 GMT
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz speaks during a joint press conference with his Romanian counterpart on February 1, 2018. (AFP/ File Photo)
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz speaks during a joint press conference with his Romanian counterpart on February 1, 2018. (AFP/ File Photo)

Poland is weighing whether to cancel the upcoming visit of its foreign minister to Israel after acting Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz quoted former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir as saying that "Poles imbibe antisemitism from their mothers' milk."

Katz appeared on Israel's i24 News channel to discuss the Warsaw conference and the diplomatic fallout from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's comments on Poles and the Holocaust. He downplayed the suggestion that Israel-Polish relations were in crisis, pointing out that Netanyahu expressed himself clearly on the issue.

He continued, "That's what Yitzhak Shamir said [of the Poles who murdered his father]: 'the Poles imbibe antisemitism from their mothers' milk.' No one will tell us how to remember the fallen."

"We are waiting for a response [from Israel] to the intolerable and racist comments from the new Foreign Minister of Israel," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at a press conference. "If we don't receive an Israeli response, the Polish Foreign Minister, Jacek Caputowicz, will not arrive in Israel for the [upcoming Visegrad] summit."

Polish Ambassador to Israel slammed Katz on Twitter on February 18, saying, "It is really astonishing that the newly appointed foreign minister of Israel quotes such a shameful and racist remark. Utterly unacceptable."

Earlier today, the head of the Polish Prime Minister's office, Michal Dworczyk said on the Jedynka radio broadcast that "We were dealing with a disgraceful statement of the new foreign minister of Israel. In the light of this statement, any participation of representatives of the Polish state in the V4 summit in Israel is under a very large question mark."

Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid also waded into the controversy.

"For four years the prime minister didn't dare to say out loud that the reason the Poles helped the Nazis is because antisemitism was an integral part of Polish society," Lapid said. "This isn't racism, but the painful historical truth."

The diplomatic crisis between Poland and Israel began during the Warsaw summit on the Middle East last Thursday, February 14, when Netanyahu appeared to push back against a Polish law that prohibits broad statements that the Poland as a state or as a nation, collaborated with the Nazis to kill Jews during World War II.

"Poles cooperated with the Germans" during the Holocaust, Netanyahu said.

He spoke toward the end of a two-day trip to Warsaw as he sat in the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, located in the heart of what had been the Warsaw Ghetto.

Lapid attacked Netanyahu after resolved the crisis, saying, "instead of the Poles apologizing to us for the millions who perished in Poland during the Holocaust, for their assistance to the Nazis, Netanyahu for the second time apologizes to them."

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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