What a nerve it would be to resort to lies and insinuations to accuse Poland of crimes against history. Well, this is exactly what the Israeli professor stoops to, claiming that Poles want to fight against the truth about the Holocaust. He is wrong in every way.
The Holocaust, the Shoah. The more frequently these words are used, and the more distant those horrendous events become, the more politics we can find in them, as well as the attempts to shift the blame off the Germans on to other nations. History cannot defend itself. Memory must be cherished, but many years of neglect have lead to a situation in which even intellectuals and world leaders do not find it incongruous to call the death camp in Auschwitz “Polish”. Thus, it is hardly surprising that the Polish Ministry of Justice has proposed a new law to penalize the lies that equate the place where the crime was perpetrated with the perpetrator, as well as the attempts to accuse Poles of complicity in the Shoah.
The proposal was criticized – in his recent text “Poland’s Crime Against History” – by Professor Shlomo Avineri, a political scientist and philosopher. Having read his article, strewn with insinuations and historical half-truths, my impression was that the author must have had only a superficial knowledge of the history of the 20th century. However, Avineri, a former director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and a lecturer at the leading Polish universities: the Jagiellonian University in Cracow and the University of Warsaw. In his own words, despite a scant knowledge of the Polish language, the country’s history and culture are not foreign to him.
In this case, there may be only one explanation: the author presented his theses in bad faith, whereas his article published within the framework of the Project Syndicate (translated into numerous languages and published in foreign media outlets) constituted an instrument of an ideological dispute. With full awareness, I claim that if there was a “crime against history” here, it was committed not by Poland, but by none other than Shlomo Avineri. Why? I hasten to explain.
Did Poles Partake in the Holocaust?
Though it seems difficult to comprehend, it is already the very first and most important claim of the Israeli professor that may be refuted simply by referring to the text of the above-mentioned bill, which he apparently has not read. He maintains that Poland will criminalize “any reference to Polish extermination camps”, and prosecute “any reference to ethnic Poles’ role in the Holocaust”. However, the legislation proposed by the Polish Ministry of Justice clearly stipulates that any such prosecution may not pertain to scientific research or artistic activity. Hence, no one making reference to the actual Polish crimes against Jews can fear any repercussions whatsoever. Why? Because there is a structural difference between the alleged participation or compliance of Poland or Poles in the Holocaust, and the acts of hatred, mob lynching, or even racially-motivated murders. If these two types of crime were to be made equal, practically the whole Europe would have to share the same amount of blame. And this is not the case…