Polish president not welcome at White House over Holocaust legislation, report says
Menu JTA Search

Polish president not welcome at White House over Holocaust legislation, report says

Andrzej Duda

Polish President Andrzej Duda at the NATO Multinational Corps Northeast headquarters in Szczecin, Poland Nov. 28, 2016. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

(JTA) — A leading news website in Poland reported that it had obtained documents suggesting that the country’s highest officials are not welcome at the White House over a law limiting discourse on World War II.

The documents, which the news website Onet did not describe in its March 5 report, mean that President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will not be received by President Donald Trump or any other member of the administration in the United States at all, the report said.

Staff from the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw also threatened to suspend funding for joint military projects between the United States and Poland, according to Onet.

Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Bartosz Cichocki, denied the report, saying Tuesday that Washington expressed “concerns and questions” about the law, but that the reports of White House sanctions are untrue, The Associated Press reported.

The alleged crisis in U.S.-Polish relations is over the passing last month of a law that criminalizes blaming Poland for Nazi crimes. Critics of the law include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called it “baseless.” Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, warned it is detrimental to debate accurate research of the genocide. And Israeli politicians, including the opposition lawmaker Yair Lapid, said it whitewashes what they called Polish complicity in the Holocaust – an allegation many Poles find offensive and that the Polish government rejects.

The U.S. Embassy in Poland last month warned that it was “concerned about the repercussions” for bilateral relations after the Polish Senate passed the legislation.

Later that month, Morawiecki during an interview made a remark about Jewish perpetrators of the Holocaust, along with Polish, Ukrainian and German ones. Decried as a form of Holocaust denial or revisionism in Poland and abroad, his remark prompted an unusually harsh reaction from Netanyahu, who called the assertion “outrageous.”

Jonny Daniels, the founder of the From the Depths commemoration group in Poland, called the reported ban by the White House “a very strong response.” He suggested that U.S.-Polish relations will improve following the conclusion of ongoing talks between Israel and Poland on ending the crisis over the law.

“I am sure that with the talks and good will between the Polish and Israeli government to resolve this issue, business will return to normal soon,” he said.

The Ruderman Family Foundation, an American Jewish philanthropic organization, last month launched a campaign urging the United States to suspend its ties with Poland over that country’s law on rhetoric about the Holocaust.