The Polish government has financed an online propaganda effort targeting Israeli web users in an attempt to sway public opinion, following tensions between Poland and Israel since Poland announced a new law banning statements alleging Polish complicity in Nazi activities in Poland.
When Israelis turned to Youtube on Sunday, they found their videos were preceded by an advertisement from Poland that dealt with an unusual issue: Polish-Jewish relations during World War II. The video also appeared as an advertisement on news websites and other outlets around Israel.
The film, created by the Polish National Foundation, was posted Saturday on the Youtube channel of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. The film is in English, with Hebrew subtitles available to Israeli users, and claims that Jews and Poles faced the Nazi and Soviet occupations "together," and that Poles treated Jewish citizens of Poland as "friends and allies."
While there were many cases of Poles aiding Jewish friends and neighbors
, there were also many other cases of Poles handing Jews over to the German occupation authorities or murdering Jews, as Jewish people were removed from the protection of the law and could be harmed without punishment.
The video ends with the motto that the current Polish government is "still on the side of truth," and then flashes the hashtag #GermanDeathCamps.
The video seems to be in response to the controversy over the recent Polish law that makes any accusations that the Polish nation as a whole aided the Nazis as an offense punishable by Polish law.
The law is known as the "Polish Death Camps Law" because it also rejects that description in favor of "German Death Camps built in occupied Poland." The law caused an uproar in Israel, where it was widely seen as an attempt to whitewash various actions committed by Poles during World War II.
The final #GermanDeathCamps message could be at least partially in reaction to Jerusalem Post
reporter Lahav Harkov, who responded to the new law by writing "Polish Death Camps" 14 times on her Twitter account, gaining plenty of responses from Poles
and non-Poles alike who debated the painful historical realities of life under Nazi rule.
The Polish embassy in Israel did not respond to a Jerusalem Post
request for comment.