Israeli ambassador's comments 'uncalled for': Deputy PM
PR dla Zagranicy
Comments by the Israeli ambassador to Poland made as the country commemorated March 1968 were “poorly thought-out and uncalled for,” a senior Polish official has said.
Anna Azari. Photo: PAP/Paweł Supernak.
Deputy Prime Minister Jarosław Gowin slammed Israeli Ambassador Anna Azari, who the Jewish Telegraphic Agency quoted as saying: “For the last one-and-a-half months I already know how easy it is to wake up in Poland anti-Semitic demons, even when there are hardly any Jews in the country”.
Azari was referring to Polish-Israeli tensions which started in late January with a proposed Polish anti-defamation bill, since signed into law, which could impose a jail term on anyone who accuses Poland of being complicit in Nazi German crimes.
While in Poland the law is seen as a way to fight the use of the phrase “Polish death camps”, which officials say distorts history, Israeli commentators have said the new law could mean penalties for anyone who criticises individual Poles' role in the Holocaust.
Azari in January said that in Israel the law “is seen as creating a possibility of punishment for Holocaust survivors' testimony.”
Gowin said Azari's words on Thursday “added fuel to the fire” amid tensions with Israel.
“The scale of anti-Polish sentiment among Jewish communities which emerged amid the confusion [over Poland's new law] is incomparably greater than anti-Semitism in Poland, Gowin said.
Polish President Andrzej Duda signed the contested bill into law on 6 February and also said he would refer the law to Poland's highest court so it can assess whether the new rules are in line with the constitution.
According to the American Jewish Year Book of 2014, of Poland's more than 40 million population, 8,000 are Jewish.
March 1968 saw nationwide student demonstrations in Poland against media censorship amid calls for academic freedoms.
The country's communist authorities of the time, which were locked in a power struggle, unleashed an anti-Semitic campaign that forced up to 20,000 Polish Jews to emigrate. (vb/pk)