Hotovely decries graffiti at Poland’s Tel Aviv embassy

Constitutional court to judge if Holocaust law violates free speech, the Polish foreign minister said.

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February 20, 2018 02:30
3 minute read.
DEPUTY MINISTER of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely

DEPUTY MINISTER of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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Swastikas and anti-Polish obscenities on the entrance to the Embassy of Poland in Tel Aviv are not to be tolerated in Israel, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said on Monday.

Hotovely was responding to a Polish protest to the Foreign Ministry about the anti-Polish graffiti that was found at the embassy on Sunday, hours after Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at the Munich Security Conference that just as there were Polish, Ukrainian and Russian perpetrators of the Holocaust – not only German ones – so too there were Jewish perpetrators.

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“The vandalism that took place at the Polish embassy is unacceptable and has no place in a democracy that honors the rule of law,” Hotovely wrote in a tweet. “A police investigation into the matter has been opened.”

Earlier in the day Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz tweeted that the incident was “deplorable.”

“We sent a note to the Israeli authorities to ensure security and punish the perpetrators. The Israeli authorities are responsible for protecting the Polish diplomatic mission,” he wrote.

In an interview with Polsat News, a Polish News network, Czaputowicz suggested that Morawiecki’s use of the word “perpetrators” was a mistake caused by his answering a question in English rather than Polish.

The foreign minister indicated that Morawiecki meant to say “collaborators.”

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“This is not his native language. There are some nuances known to Americans and Britons. He used the word he used, but we all know that he meant those who worked with the Nazis, whether Poles, Jews, Ukrainians or other nationalities,” he said.

Asked if Morawiecki would apologize for his comments, Czaputowicz answered: “There’s little to apologize for – you just have to explain it.”

The deep rift in Polish-Israeli ties was caused by a law, signed earlier this month by the Polish president, making it illegal to say that the Polish state or nation was complicit in the Holocaust. For instance, saying “Polish death camps” to refer to the extermination camps in Poland, rather than saying “Nazi death camps,” could lead to a fine and up to three years in prison.

Before becoming law, however, the legislation must be reviewed by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal, and Czaputowicz has recommended waiting to see how that body will interpret the law and judge whether it violates free speech.

He said that “a certain interpretation is necessary to remove doubts” that have arisen about the law. All these doubts, he said, will be taken into consideration by the tribunal.

Morawiecki’s office, meanwhile, issued a lengthy press release late Sunday following his phone conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which Netanyahu told Morawiecki his words at the Munich Security Conference were unacceptable.

The statement said that Morawiecki told Netanyahu that he did not mean to equate the perpetrators of the Holocaust with the victims.

“However,” he added, “among the exterminated nations – in those terrible times of war and the Holocaust – there were also the people who collaborated with the occupiers, the people who cooperated with the Nazi evil.

“They were representatives of various nationalities who commenced their cooperation for fear of death, in the hope of their own survival and the survival of their closest relatives, as well as for many other reasons, including the will to get some profit, or other motives deserving the absolute condemnation,” the statement continued.

“All these cases require clarification and research. No such an individual case should burden with responsibility the whole nations that were victims of the Nazi German death machine.”

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