After an Israeli minister claimed that Poles harbor anti-Semitism from childhood, a Polish PM fired back, saying his country, where thousands risked their lives to help Jews during WWII, will not accept “racist insults.”
Amid a simmering political row between Warsaw and Tel Aviv, Mateusz Morawiecki told Haaretz that Poland “will no longer give in to a pressure to accept lies, misleading phrases, let alone racist insults.”
Morawiecki was apparently directing the comment at Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who upped the ante last week by saying that every Pole “suckled anti-Semitism with his mother’s milk.”
The Polish PM said the controversial quote “seemed totally unbelievable,” and that such words “could be used by a radical extremist, but not by a Foreign Minister.” He added that “some politicians want to make headlines” ahead of the elections in Israel.
Morawiecki said that “tens of thousands of Poles, perhaps even more, were helping their Jewish brethren,” and that Poland was the only German-occupied country “in which a person helping Jews faced death penalty at the hands of the Germans.”
On the back of last week’s exchange, Warsaw pulled out of a summit of Eastern European countries in Jerusalem, with Junior Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski demanding that Israel “reject this declaration… and apologize.” The Israeli ambassador to Poland was summoned to the Foreign Ministry twice in a week.
Poland has been bombarded with accusations of stirring up anti-Semitic sentiment since it passed its controversial Holocaust law last year. The legislation, which prohibits implicating the Polish government in the historical crimes of the Nazi regime, sparked outrage in Israel, with senior official claiming that Poles collaborated with the Germans en masse.