Poland canceled Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s planned visit to the country Monday amid uproar over proposed legislation that downplay Poland’s role in Nazi atrocities and make the use of phrases such as “Polish Death Camps” to refer to the Polish death camps, punishable.
Bennett was scheduled to visit Poland next Wednesday to address Polish students and meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Science and Higher Education in Poland, Jarosław Gowin.
However, Polish government spokeswoman Joanna Kopcińska clarified Monday evening following Bennett’s remarks that “there will be no such visit in Poland.”
Bennett said he sees the cancellation as an “honor.”
“The Polish government canceled my visit to Poland because I mentioned the crimes of its people. Polish Jewish blood cries out from the ground and no law will silence it,” he stated.
“Now, the next generation has an important lesson to learn about the Holocaust of our people, and I will make sure they learn it. This decision by the Polish government will be a major part of the lessons of the Holocaust, even if they intended to achieve something else.”
Bennett went on to admit that “indeed, the extermination camps in Poland were established and operated by the Germans, and they must not be allowed to evade this responsibility,” but reiterated that many Poles throughout their country informed, betrayed or participated in the murder of some 200,000 Jews during the Holocaust and even afterwards.
“Only a few thousand Righteous Among the Nations risked their lives to save them. That is the truth. I agreed to a dialogue based on truth. The Polish government chose to evade this truth. No legislation will change the past.”
Just hours ahead of his visit, Bennet announced that “in Poland, I will make it clear: the past can’t be rewritten, the future should be written together.”
He noted that while thousands of Poles helped Jews during the war, many others participated in their persecution.
“I am going to speak truth, where the truth took place,” he said.