Short comment by Gilad Atzmon
The new Polish holocaust bill calls for a fine or up to three years in prison for the ‘crime’ of accusing the Polish state or people of involvement with or responsibility for the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II.
What is surprising about the reaction to this bill, is that the same people and institutions who have long been advocating laws restricting history are now upset by the concept. Voices from Israel’s right wing who championed the Nakba law (requiring the withdrawal of state funding from any institution that commemorates the Palestinian day of mourning) now claim to be defenders of ‘historical truth’ and ‘freedom of speech.’ Those who have labeled as a ‘holocaust denier’ anyone who dared challenge the primacy of Jewish suffering, the holocaust as a religion or the traditional Zionist narrative, are now posing as advocates for openness about the past.
However, we have good reason to believe that the new Polish holocaust bill is slightly more liberal than the Israeli legal attitude to the Nakba or the German judicial approach to the Shoah. The Polish bill exempts “scientific research into the war and artistic work.” This suggests that in Poland truth and beauty somehow exceed the political realm.
But why are the Israelis so upset by the new Polish bill? Because Auschwitz has become the Jewish Mecca and the holocaust the new Jewish religion. Tens of thousands of Israelis and Jews travel to Poland every year to visit Auschwitz, the holy grail of Jewish identification. The Polish, it seems, have had enough. Maybe they did not mind Jews bonding with their own suffering on Polish soil, but being turned into the perpetrators was a step too far. In the wake of the new Polish law, holocaust tourism in Poland is bound to suffer a major blow.
To learn more about the central role of the holocaust in the Israeli psyche, watch this incredible documentary by Yoav Shamir:
If they want to burn it, you want to read it ...