Jewish American leader criticizes Polish law

Far-Right Groups Demand Polish President Sign Holocaust Bill

Far-Right Groups Demand Polish President Sign Holocaust Bill

Duda also said he will ask the Constitutional Tribunal for clarifications about the bill.

The bill proposed by Poland's ruling conservative Law and Justice Party calls for fines and prison sentences of up to three years for purposely trying to attribute the crimes Nazi Germany carried out during the almost six-year occupation to the Polish nation as a whole.

Polish politicians have long called for laws that prohibit expressions such as "Polish death camps" in reference to concentration camps operated in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Israel's ambassador to Poland Anna Azari, however, told the Polish PAP news agency that Israel believes the bill could open the door to prosecuting Holocaust survivors for their testimony should it concern the involvement of individual Poles allegedly killing or giving up Jews to the Germans.

The United States, too, has been highly critical of the law, suggesting that it could jeopardize Poland's strategic relations with Israel and the US.

The leaders of Ukrainian, Tartar, Jewish and other groups said in a letter published by the Polish Press Agency late Saturday they especially oppose recent "numerous and loud manifestations of anti-Semitism".

Andrzej Duda defended the legislation, which will make it illegal to accuse Poland of complicity in such Nazi crimes committed under occupation.

Deputy Justice Minister Marcin Warchol said it was wrong to suggest the bill would stop people researching Polish history.

Israel's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it would continue to communicate with Poland despite its reservations about the law.

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The bill was passed by the Polish parliament before being presented to President Duda.

"The ruling party couldn't withdraw the bill under the pressure of foreign countries - Israel and the United States - and signing the bill would bring a diplomatic catastrophe", she said.

Poland's right-wing government says the law is necessary to protect the reputation of Poles as victims of Nazi aggression.

"One can not change history, and the Holocaust can not be denied", Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement last week.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said this weekend that "there is not the slightest doubt about who is responsible for the extermination camps, who made them work to kill millions of European Jews: namely the Germans". "No legislation will change the past", added Bennett.

After having his upcoming trip to Warsaw cancelled by the Polish government on Monday due to his strong criticism of the law, Israel's hard-right education minister, Naftali Bennet, said he was "honored".

According to figures from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Nazis also killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians.

A historian and well-known "Nazi-hunter" at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Efraim Zuroff, says the number of collaborators runs into "many thousands".

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