With Israel and Poland hurtling toward a diplomatic rupture that neither side wants, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Sunday with his Polish colleague Mateusz Morawiecki and agreed that teams set up to discuss the controversial Holocaust law would "hopefully meet soon". "The government of Israel has to be a voice for the millions of murdered and strongly denounce the Polish prime minister's words".
"The Polish prime minister's remarks here in Munich are outrageous", Netanyahu, who was also attending the conference in the Bavarian capital, said in a video statement later Saturday.
"The perpetrators are not the victims". Asking about a new Polish law that criminalises some statements about the Holocaust, the journalist shared a personal story about his parents being reported to the Nazis by Polish neighbours.
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The Israeli lawmaker's indignation was shared by Pinchas Goldschmidt, spiritual leader of the Moscow Choral Synagogue and head of the rabbinical court in the Commonwealth of Independent States, who told RT that the Polish prime minister's remarks were "words which undermine". Bergman asked if by recounting this, "I am a criminal in your country?"
Morawiecki responded: "It's not going to punishable, not going to be seen as criminal, to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian and German perpetrators".
In recent weeks, Israeli officials have sharply criticised the legislation that criminalises blaming Poland as a nation for crimes committed by Nazi Germany. Israel last month already protested the law that Morawiecki was defending, as did many Jewish groups that warned it would limit debate about the Holocaust and serve to obscure the actions of Poles who betrayed Jews to the Germans or killed them.
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Poland "was the only place on Earth" where thousands of Polish families were exterminated by the Nazis and the entire villages were annihilated "for helping our Jewish brothers and sisters", Morawiecki said.
Morawiecki's spokeswoman said earlier Sunday that the Polish prime minister "has repeatedly and categorically opposed denial of the Holocaust - the murder of European Jewry - as well as anti-Semitism in all its forms".
Netanyahu also said that "the goal of the Holocaust was to destroy the Jewish people and that all Jews were under sentence of death".
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Morawiecki, after his conversation with Netanyahu, tweeted the following: "The Holocaust, the genocide of the Jews committed by the German Nazis, was a horrific crime".