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article imageIsrael says anti-Semitism rising in Poland as Holocaust row simmers

By AFP     Feb 2, 2018 in World

The Israeli embassy in Warsaw on Friday said it has observed a "wave of anti-Semitic statements" in Poland, as a diplomatic row rages over a new Polish bill regarding the Holocaust and the definition of Nazi death camps.

Poland's senate on Thursday passed a controversial Holocaust bill that had been meant to defend the country's image abroad but which instead provoked Israel's anger and drew concern from the US as well as from various Jewish groups and global institutions like the International Auschwitz Council.

The legislation, which still needs the president's signature to take effect, was introduced by the governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party to stop people from erroneously describing Nazi German death camps as Polish.

Israel, however, has expressed concern that the legislation relating to the extermination of Jews by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II, could serve to deny the involvement of individual Poles in the Holocaust.

"In the last few days we could not help but notice a wave of anti-Semitic statements, reaching the Embassy through all channels of communication. Many of them targeted Ambassador Anna Azari personally," the embassy said in a statement on its website.

"Anti-Semitic statements are overflowing the internet channels in Poland, but they have become present on the main stream media too, especially on the TVP Info."

A recent commentator on the state-run TVP station had made the ironic statement that "we could say these camps were neither German nor Polish but Jewish. Because who operated the crematoria? And who died there?"

Another commenter had sent out a tweet using the Polish version of an offensive term against Jews, "greedy kike".

The Israeli embassy did not specifically mention these examples, but they triggered much criticism in Poland.

TVP later on Friday issued an official apology, deleted the offensive content from its Twitter account and announced "disciplinary action" against those responsible.

"The Management Board of Polish Television is of the opinion that there can be no place on the public broadcaster for discriminatory and exclusionary content," TVP said in a public statement that also offered an apology to Azari.

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