Trump administration reportedly asked Israel to tamp down criticism of Polish Holocaust law


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Trump administration officials asked Israel’s government and opposition to tamp down criticism of a proposed Polish law that would criminalize blaming Poland for Nazi crimes, according to a report.

The report by Barak Ravid, the diplomatic correspondent for Israel’s Channel 10 News, quoted senior Israeli officials, who said that while the Americans found the law objectionable, they also sought to preserve relations with Poland, a critical ally.

Ravid posted his report on Twitter in Hebrew.

The pressure extended to Israel’s opposition, according to Ravid, when Vice President Mike Pence met Isaac Herzog, the parliamentary leader of the opposition Zionist Union faction. Both men spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference.

Ravid suggested that the American pressure on Israel to make nice with Poland bore results: The Washington embassies of Poland and Israel joined the U.S. State Department on Wednesday in co-sponsoring a Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration.

Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and others have harshly criticized the law because, they claim, while it ostensibly targets those who say Poles collectively were responsible for the Holocaust, it could also be interpreted as criminalizing any reporting of Polish anti-Semitism during the period around the Holocaust, and any reporting of Poles who collaborated with Nazis.

Other critics say the law impinges on free speech. Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, this week reassured his Israeli counterpart, Reuven Rivlin, that Holocaust survivors would not be at risk simply for telling their stories. Rivlin was in Poland for Holocaust commemoration events.

The law passed in February and is under review in Constitutional Court before it can take effect. Poland’s attorney general said in a nonbinding opinion that the court should shelve the parts of the law that have drawn criticism.

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