Holocaust row between Poland and Israel reignites

A summit between Israel and the Visegrád states scheduled for this week in Jerusalem has been cancelled after Warsaw announced it wouldn't be attending. This came after reports of remarks by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Katz regarding Polish complicity with the Nazis. Commentators' criticism is not limited to the actions of the Polish government.

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Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

PiS has messed up on foreign policy

Poland is increasingly manoeuvring itself into a corner, Deutschlandfunk criticises:

“The conservative government used to advocate its foreign policy with the distinctive slogan: Poland must 'get up off its knees'. The country needed to be more self-assertive, also as regards its own past. The result: never before has there been so much talk of Polish collaborators with the German occupiers in the Second World War. Moreover, Poland has never been as isolated as it is now. Relations with its once close partners Germany and France have cooled markedly. Even its closest allies, the Visegrád countries, are increasingly giving Warsaw the cold shoulder. ... So in terms of foreign policy Poland's ruling PiS party has made a mess of things. Hopefully it will learn its lesson from this.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Election campaigning on all sides

The conflict follows an old pattern, Adevărul notes:

“It seems that Netanyahu was falling back on a campaign logic [in the run-up to the April elections] when he used the term 'Polish nation' to describe collaboration with the Nazis. The Polish head of government Morawiecki then promptly retorted that his statement was 'racist and unacceptable'. ... This topic is part of the discussion currently underway on the European and international levels about growing anti-Semitism. ... It has been triggered by the resurgence of movements and political parties whose ideologies are based on the fascist and Nazi traditions. This discussion is now becoming more virulent, and in the run-up to the European elections everyone is in campaign mode. Once again we're hearing arguments that tear open old wounds and awaken painful memories.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

De-escalation by reviewing the past

Rzeczpospolita explains what it thinks the government should do now:

“It needs to secure as much support as possible for a simple statement: that not all Poles came out of the Second World War with a clean record. There were those who participated in the murder of Jews. Of almost three million murdered Polish Jews, many thousands fell victim to their Polish neighbours - either because their neighbours were murderers or because they were traitors. ... That's a lot of people, and we must not remain silent or forget this. However, they were not victims of the Polish state or the Polish nation. Quite apart from the fact that the Poles emerge less tarnished from this death count than many other societies in Central and Eastern Europe as well as Western Europe.”