Far-right Polish president to boycott international Holocaust remembrance in Israel
Far-right Polish President Andrzej Duda said that he will boycott a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Polish death camp set for later this month in Israel because he has not been invited to deliver a speech.
“As the [Polish] president I will not take part in the event that will take place on Jan. 23 in Jerusalem,” he said.
He added that he does not approve that representatives of Russia, France, Britain, Germany and the United States will be able to speak at the event while Poland won’t be able to.
Another reason, according to local reports, is an expected address by President Putin, who over the past month has launched a campaign against Poland, pointing at their responsibility in World War II.
“Essentially they colluded with Hitler. This is clear from documents, archival documents,” Putin said in an emotional end-of-year speech at the defense ministry.
The conference is at the invitation of President Reuven Rivlin, who invited Putin to be the key speaker at the event.
The incident comes amid a surge of far-right extremism in Poland. The current ultra-nationalist government is attempting to rewrite history and curb some of today’s basic freedoms like the rule of law and freedom of speech.
Last year, Polish lawmakers voted to water down a Holocaust denial law that angered the United States and Israel, and removed parts that imposed jail terms on people who mention Poland’s active role in Nazi atrocities and make the use of phrases such as “Polish Death Camps” to refer to the Polish death camps, punishable.
In January 2019, a neo-Nazi Polish nationalist party gathered with other anti-Semites outside the Auschwitz death camp to protest Poland’s government observance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Last September, Duda blamed Israel for rising anti-Semitism in Poland.
Duda referred to comments by Israel’s Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz. Katz quoted former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir earlier this year, saying that “Poles suckle antisemitism from their mothers’ milk”.