JERUSALEM (JTA) — Poland’s prime minister cancelled his country’s participation in a European summit to be held in Israel this week, after Israel’s new acting foreign minister said that Poles “sucked anti-Semitism from their mothers’ milk.”
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had already announced on Sunday that he would skip the meeting of the Visegrad Group countries, which is to be held on Tuesday and Wednesday in Jerusalem, and would likely send Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz.
But after the remarks later on Sunday by Yisrael Katz, the Polish prime minister pulled out altogether on Monday morning.
Hours later the entire summit was cancelled, and replaced with bilateral meetings between Hungarian, Czech and Slovak leaders and Israeli officials.
“The words of the Israeli foreign minister are racist and unacceptable… it is clear that our foreign minister Czaputowicz will not be traveling to the summit,” Morawiecki told Polish media Monday morning.
His remarks came after the Israeli ambassador to Poland, Anna Azari, had been summoned for a reprimand for the second time in four days. Morawiecki reportedly also is considering recalling his country’s ambassador to Israel.
“I am a son of Holocaust survivors and I was even born and grew up in a community made up of Holocaust survivors,” Katz told Channel 13 on Sunday. “The memory of the Holocaust is something we cannot compromise about; it is clear and we won’t forget or forgive.
“In diplomacy you try not to offend, but nobody will change the historical truth to do something like that,” Katz also said. “Poles collaborated with the Nazis, definitely. As Yitzhak Shamir said, they suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk.”
Former Prime Minister Shamir, a native of Poland whose parents were killed there during the Nazi occupation, made his remarks in 1989.