Exposing Jewish taboo triggers world anti-Polish uproar
By Robert Strybel
WARSAW–A Polish-Israeli diplomatic crisis, which first erupted when a Polish anti-defamation amendment was signed into law, has reached new heights at the hint of Jewish complicity in the Holocaust. The amendment makes it a crime punishable by up to two years in prison to publicly blame the Polish state or nation for the Holocaust, and specifically targets such formulations as “Polish death camps”.
During an international security conference held recently in Munich, Germany, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was asked by Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman whether a new Polish law would regard him as a criminal for speaking about the Polish neighbors who turned his family over to the Gestapo during World War II. Morawiecki replied: “Of course it’s not going to be punishable, it’s not going to be seen as criminal, to say there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian and not only German perpetrators,”
During the Nazi occupation, Councils of Jewish Elders (Judenräte) provided the Germans with the names and addresses of local Jews, thereby facilitating their roundup and transport ot death camps. Other Jews collaborated with the Nazis by serving in the Wehrmacht and Ghetto Police as well as blackmailing fellow-Jews and snitching on them to the Gestapo. Those occurrences have all been documented.
But a Polish prime minister even hinting at that Jewish taboo at an international conference triggered an immediate knee-jerk uproar from Israel’s political stage. Their narration was quickly relayed worldwide by the Western media. Suddenly, the Israeli politicians who are normally at each other’s throats responded as if on cue with uncanny national solidarity.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called his Polish counterpart’s comment “outrageous” and accused him of “lacking sensitivity to the tragedy of the Jewish people.” His arch-rival, Yair Lapid, head of Israel’s centrist opposition party, said Israel should recall its ambassador immediately and accused Morawiecki’s comments of “anti-Semitism of the oldest kind.”
Labor leader Avi Gabbay said Morawiecki sounded like any other Holocaust denier. Ronald Lauder, who heads the World Jewish Congress, accused Morawiecki of ignorance and said his “government is going to extreme and unfathomable lengths to exonerate some of their countrymen’s own complicity in the murders of their neighbors.”
To outsiders it may seem incongruous that Jews, who are so quick to condemn any aspect of Holocaust denial by Gentiles, practice it themselves by glossing over Jewish crimes agaisnt fellow-Jews. The standard explanation is that the brutal extermination of 90 percent of Poland’s Jews and two-thirds of European Jewry was so traumatizing a national catastrophe that marginal incidents of Jewish collaboration are meaningless in comparison.
Shortly after the latest controversy erupted, Morawiecki was in touch with Netanyahu, suggesting calm and patient dialogue to resolve the dispute. Will he make the mistake of assuming that the Polish narration has a fair chance of making it into the international mainstream on equal footing with the Judeo-Israeli version of things?