On Wednesday the joint declaration was published in leading German, French, British and Spanish media, and is due to appear on Thursday in Israeli and US press.
On June 27, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu signed a joint declaration highlighting that relations between the two nations are “based on a well-grounded trust and understanding,” as well as involve close cooperation “in the international arena, but also as regards the memory and education of the Holocaust.”
Joint declaration of the prime ministers of the State of Israel and the Republic of Poland
1. Over the last thirty years, the contacts between our countries and societies have been based on a well-grounded trust and understanding. Israel and Poland are devoted, long-term friends and partners, cooperating closely with each other in the international arena, but also as regards the memory and education of the Holocaust. This cooperation has been permeated by a spirit of mutual respect for the identity and historical sensitivity of our history, including the most tragic periods.
2. Following the conversation between Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Morawiecki, Israel welcomes the decision taken by the Polish government to establish the official Polish group dedicated to the dialogue with its Israeli partners on historical issues relating to the Holocaust. It is obvious that the Holocaust was an unprecedented crime, committed by Nazi Germany against the Jewish nation, including all Poles of Jewish origin. Poland has always expressed the highest understanding of the significance of the Holocaust as the most tragic part of the Jewish national experience.
3. We believe that there is a common responsibility to conduct free research, to promote understanding and to preserve the memory of the history of the Holocaust. We have always agreed that the term “Polish concentration/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 of the systematic murder of the Polish Jews.
We acknowledge and condemn every single case of cruelty against Jews perpetrated by Poles during WWII.
We are honored to remember heroic acts of numerous Poles, especially the Righteous Among the Nations, who risked their lives to save Jewish people.
4. We reject the actions aimed at blaming Poland or the Polish nation as a whole for the atrocities committed by the Nazis and their collaborators of different nations. Unfortunately, the sad fact is that some people – regardless of their origin, religion or worldview – revealed their darkest side at that time. We acknowledge the fact that structures of the Polish underground State supervised by the Polish Government-in-Exile created a mechanism of systematic help and support to Jewish people, and its courts sentenced Poles for collaborating with the German occupation authorities, including for denouncing Jews.
"We have always agreed that the term ‘Polish concentration/death camps’ is blatantly erroneous and diminishes the responsibility of Germans for...see more
5. We 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, including but not limited to students, teachers, researchers, journalists and – with all certainty the survivors and their families – who will not be subject to any legal charges for using the right to free speech and academic freedom with reference to the Holocaust. No law can and will change that.
6. Both governments vehemently condemn all forms of anti-Semitism and express their commitment to oppose any of its manifestations. Both governments also express their rejection of anti-Polonism and other negative national stereotypes. The governments of Poland and Israel call for a return to civil and respectful dialogue in the public discourse.
A way out of the problems experienced after the passing of the Defamation Law has been found. Poland has managed to persuade Israel to back its view that Poland as a nation and people was not responsible for the Holocaust in return for getting rid of the clauses that related to penalization which the Israelis objected to on the grounds of them potentially hampering research and freedom of speech on the matter.
Poland decided that it needed good relations with Israel to maintain good relations with the US. The present US administration made no secret of its dislike for the penal provisions of the Defamation Law and hinted they would damage Polish-American relations if the legislation was not amended. This came at a time when Warsaw is pitching hard for a US military base to be made permanent in Poland. Now one of the potential obstacles to this has been removed.
What is the price of this joint declaration for the present government domestically? It will no doubt be harder to force through a restitution law which was to limit the ability of foreign subjects to reclaim their properties in Poland as it would again open up a source of conflict with Israel and the US since many of those properties were once owned by Jews and their descendants.
There will, of course, be some on the right of Polish politics who are already complaining that this statement shows how limited Polish sovereignty is. However, the leader of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has backed the Declaration in no uncertain terms and ensured that the PiS Parliamentary Caucus supported the Amendment to the Defamation Law when it was voted on in the Polish Parliament. The main Opposition parties are not going to make this an issue as they agree with the government on this matter.