The Israeli foreign minister claims that the Polish government is trying to interfere with the content of the tours and sway the narrative of the Holocaust as taught to Israeli children.
The announcement by Yair Lapid is the latest in a diplomatic spat between the two countries over longstanding tensions over historical issues related to the Holocaust.
Lapid said that Poland had barred Israeli delegations from learning about the role of Polish citizens in collaborating with Nazi Germans during the Holocaust.
“They wanted to dictate what was allowed and what was not allowed to be taught to Israeli children who go to Poland and that we cannot agree with,” he told reporters.
The Polish government for several years has tried to get involved in the content of the Holocaust tours as part of efforts to correct what it saw as distortions of history that portrayed the country in a negative light – as in part responsible for the Holocaust.
Polish authorities have also claimed that the world – in particular Israel – had failed to recognise the degree of Polish suffering during World War II or the efforts by individual Poles and Polish organisations to rescue Jews.
“The current formula of organised trips of Israeli youth to Poland requires changes due to systematic problems leading to the strengthening of false stereotypes, which negatively impacts Polish-Israeli relations,” Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jabłonski posted on Twitter earlier this week.
Jabłoński added that Poland does not want to cancel Israeli student trips but, rather, to provide them with a different formula that will improve Polish-Israeli relations.
The Polish government has also refused to allow Israeli agents providing security for the trips to carry weapons while on Polish territory, which in previous years had been the cause of a series of incidents, according to Warsaw.
Both countries’ foreign ministries stated that negotiations are ongoing with Warsaw “interested in continuing student trips from Israel” and Tel-Aviv making efforts to allow delegations to return.
Poland was the first country invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany and never had a collaborationist government. Members of Poland’s resistance and government-in-exile struggled to warn the world about the mass killing of Jews, and thousands of Poles risked their lives to help Jews.
Source: PAP, haaretz.com