Israel deprived Poland of the right to pose as a victim of the Second World War

1:40, 17 августа 2021

МОСКВА, 16 августа 2021, Институт РУССТРАТ.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has decided to lower the status of diplomatic relations with Poland. According to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Tel Aviv is recalling the Israeli Charge d’affaires in Poland home, and the Polish ambassador to Israel is advised not to return to his duty station from his vacation.

The reason for such a sharp reaction was the signing by Polish President Andrzej Duda of amendments to the Administrative Procedure Code that affect property disputes. From now on, the statute of limitations for filing claims is set at 30 years.

Explaining the reasons for his decision, Duda said that this was done in the interests of the legitimate owners. According to the Polish president, there were frequent cases when “conscientiously acquired apartments and real estate could be expropriated by the decision of an ordinary administrative court under the pretext that the owner who possessed this property more than 70 years ago was found.

Practice has shown that these owners were often fictitious, and criminal groups got rich due to the fact that tens of thousands of people were thrown out on the street.”

However, Israel and the United States, as well as numerous Jewish organisations, perceived the amendments as directed against the interests of the heirs of Jews who died in Poland during World War II. Their property was later nationalised and transferred to the state.

Earlier the descendants of Holocaust survivors could claim that the property was confiscated illegally and demand its return. After making changes to the Administrative Procedure Code, restitution becomes almost impossible. In addition, in Poland, unlike other countries of the European Union, there is no fund for paying compensation to those whose property was confiscated.

The Israeli government categorically disagreed with the decision of Warsaw. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called Duda’s signature under the amendments “shameful” and an expression of “contempt for the memory of the Holocaust.” He stressed that the actions of the Polish authorities are a “serious step” that Israel “will not take indifferently.”

How will Tel Aviv respond? First, at its level, it can disavow the joint declaration of Israel and Poland, which was adopted in 2018. It said that Tel Aviv recognises the participation of the Polish resistance in helping Jews during the Second World War. By the way, many Israeli historians, including the authoritative Yad Vashem Institute, criticised back then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for agreeing with the points of the declaration, which, according to them, distorted history.

Secondly, the Israeli Foreign Ministry intends to seek advice from the Americans, who also negatively perceived the Polish amendments, and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken publicly urged the Polish president not to sign them. The union of Washington and Tel Aviv can not only spoil the reputation of the Poles in the international arena, but also create conditions for filing mass lawsuits, for which the state, and therefore ordinary taxpayers, will have to pay. The Polish authorities made a mistake when they tried to shift responsibility to others.

According to Duda, the nationalised property after the war was restored “at the expense of state funds”, the Germans “did not pay Poland any compensation for the huge material damage”, and “none of the Western countries participated in the restoration of the country destroyed during the German occupation”.

But the point is that Israel and the United States have no claims against Germany. The German authorities pay compensation to Jews. In addition, in June 2021, during Blinken’s visit to Berlin, he and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas signed an agreement on cooperation in the fight against Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism.

This directly affects Poland, which is accused of trying to hide the participation of Poles in helping the Nazis to persecute Jews during the war. According to the US Secretary of State, the governments of both countries will work to raise awareness about the Holocaust and counter the denial and distortion of these events. It is not difficult to guess who will be the main target of such an American-German policy.

For Poland, this means the following: it will no longer be able to speculate on the events of 1939, exposing itself as the “main victim” of “two totalitarianisms – German and Soviet”. Warsaw is used to organising a political show on the day of the beginning of the Second World War, September 1, independently determining who has the right to honour those tragic events and who does not. In 2019, it refused Russian President Vladimir Putin an invitation to a ceremony commemorating the beginning of the war, saying that it was guided by the “modern context”.

Now the boomerang is coming back. The “modern context ” that Israel and the United States put forward in the amended case makes Poland a revisionist state that disputes the right of Holocaust victims to compensation. This, by the way, plays right into the hands of Germany, from which the Polish authorities want to receive reparations for losses during the occupation.

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