The joint declaration on the Holocaust issued on 27 June 2018 by Prime Ministers of Poland and Israel, Mr Morawiecki and Mr Netanyahu, should be considered a good thing and a step into the right direction. Hopefully, it will close the difficult period between the two nations and will allow for better understanding of each other. Both Poland and Israel have their sensitivities which should be taken into account and my feeling is that this declaration is aimed to be really objective.
The wording of the declaration states that:
“we believe that there is common responsibility to conduct free research, to promote understanding and to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. We have always agreed that the term “Polish concentration camps/death camps” is blatantly erroneous and diminishes the responsibility of Germans for establishing those camps. The wartime Polish Government-in-Exile attempted to stop this Nazi activity by trying to raise awareness among the Western allies to the systematic murder of the Polish Jews. We acknowledge and condemn every single case of cruelty against Jews perpetrated by Poles during the World War II. We are honoured to remember heroic acts of numerous Poles, especially the Righteous Among the Nations, who risked their lives to save Jewish people.”
I couldn’t agree more! I am a Pole and a Polish patriot but at the same time I have an enormous respect for the Jewish culture and history. I admire the Jewish nation and Jewish unfailing attachment to tradition.
I also fully agree that both nations should support free and open historical expression and research on all aspects of the Holocaust so that it can be conducted without any fear of legal obstacles by everybody, including the survivors and their families. For me as a practicing lawyer, the right of free speech is the basis of our freedom. All other laws and constitutions are just printed paper if we cannot express ourselves freely and openly.
The wording of the declaration has been recently heavily criticized by Yad Vashem for alleged grave errors and distortions of the historical truth. It has been said that the declaration contained a number of historical errors, and that it paves the way for legal battles against historians and other Holocaust researchers to continue – even if these will now be only civil and not criminal proceedings.
Last week, however, Prof. Dina Porat, Yad Vashem’s senior historian, said that she "can live with" the joint statement released by Poland and Israel regarding the Holocaust. This is a good sign both Poland and Israel. All in all, as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan once said, no one has a monopoly on truth.
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