Polish president signs Holocaust bill, triggers Israeli, US criticism

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Poland canceled a scheduled visit by Israel's Education Minister Naftali Bennett after he said he would use the opportunity to tell the Polish people the "truth" about their country and the Holocaust.

Duda also said he would send the legislation, which now comes into force, to the Constitutional Tribunal to rule on whether it conforms with guarantees for freedom of speech.

"Unfortunately, it is not only the nationalists but also the whole Polish society which will have to pay the price, " said Grabowski, who is also a member of the Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw. The bill was supported by 57 senators, mainly from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Party, 23 voted against the document, and two abstained.

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"The United States is disappointed that the president of Poland has signed legislation that would impose criminal penalties for attributing Nazi crimes to the Polish state", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

"We don't have any intention to prosecute someone who says that somewhere a single Jew or a family were murdered", Kaczynski told public radio on February 3. I am going to speak truth, where the truth took place.

On Tuesday, several dozen activists chanted anti-Semitic slogans at a rally in front of his presidential palace. They carried a banner that said, "Take off your yarmulke". Others demonstrated against the legislation.

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"For the sake of the values of an open dialogue and free access to sources, we appeal to our Polish colleagues to continue historical discussions on the territory of Ukraine, where there are no restrictions or political imposition of assessments of the past", the statement said. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared last week that "we have no tolerance for the distortion of the truth and rewriting history or denying the Holocaust".

Israeli legislators have in response drafted a bill that would offer support to any Holocaust survivors or educators prosecuted under the new Polish law. This was before the NBC docu-drama sparked a spate of Holocaust memoirs, Holocaust studies at US universities, and a greater public interest in explaining the inexplicable.

"Enactment of this law adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry", said Tillerson in a statement released by the U.S. State Department. Agnieszka Markiewicz, director of the American Jewish Committee's central Europe office, was quoted by the Washington Post as saying. He recalled that the Polish government at the time had to go into exile and Polish officials were those who struggled to inform the world that the Germans were putting Jews to death on Polish soil. "A scholar associated with a university might be excluded, but what about a school teacher who shares some of the awful stories that happened in Poland?"

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