Israeli minister ‘honored’ to be barred from Poland over Holocaust bill

City workers putting up barriers around the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, in this Jan. 31, 2018 photo, after a local governor, citing security concerns, banned traffic in the area in order to prevent a planned protest by far-right groups amid a spat between Poland and Israel. (AP)
Updated 06 February 2018

Israeli minister ‘honored’ to be barred from Poland over Holocaust bill

WARSAW/JERUSALEM: Israel’s education minister said on Monday he was “honored” Poland had cancelled his visit to Warsaw this week because he refused to back off of condemnation of a bill that would outlaw suggesting Poland was complicit in the Holocaust.
Earlier on Monday, Naftali Bennett said he would travel to Poland to discuss the bill, which Israeli officials have said amounts to Holocaust denial. However Poland’s government spokeswoman said there would be no such visit.
“The blood of Polish Jews cries from the ground, and no law will silence it,” Bennett later said in a statement. “The government of Poland cancelled my visit, because I mentioned the crimes of its people. I am honored.”
After Bennett’s statement, the government spokeswoman declined to comment further on the issue.
Israel has denounced the Polish Holocaust bill, which passed in parliament last week and is awaiting a decision by President Andrzej Duda over whether to sign it.
The Polish measure would impose prison sentences of up to three years for mentioning the term “Polish death camps” and for suggesting “publicly and against the facts” that the Polish nation or state was complicit in Nazi Germany’s crimes.
Poland’s rightwing nationalist government says the bill is necessary to protect the reputation of Poles as victims of Nazi aggression. Israel says the law would ban true statements about the role that some Poles played in Nazi crimes.
The bill has drawn criticism from the United States and condemnation from a number of international organizations as well as Polish minority groups.
Poland, which had Europe’s biggest Jewish population when it was invaded by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union at the start of World War Two, became ground zero for the “final solution”, Hitler’s plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe.
More than three million of Poland’s 3.2 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis, accounting for about half of the Jews killed in the Holocaust. Jews from across the continent were sent to be killed at death camps built and operated by Germans in Poland, including Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor.
According to figures from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Nazis also killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians. “The death camps in Poland were built and operated by the Germans, and we cannot allow them to evade responsibility for these actions,” Bennett said.
“However, many Polish people, all over the country, chased, informed or actively took part in the murder of over 200,000 Jews during, and after, the Holocaust. Only a few thousand people, Righteous Among the Nations, risked themselves to save Jews.”


Mosques in Iran to resume daily prayers, president says

Updated 4 min 45 sec ago

Mosques in Iran to resume daily prayers, president says

  • Rouhani also said on state television that the hours of shopping malls will be extended
  • He did not say when they are due to reopen

DUBAI: Government employees went back to work in Iran on Saturday and President Hassan Rouhani said mosques are to resume daily prayers throughout the country, even though some areas are seeing high levels of coronavirus infections.
Rouhani also said on state television that the hours of shopping malls, which had been allowed to open only until 6 p.m., will be extended, a further step in the government’s plans to ease coronavirus restrictions.
“Doors to mosques across the country will open to public for daily prayers,” Rouhani said, adding that social distancing and other health protocols should be observed. He did not say when they are due to reopen.
Authorities are taking tougher measures to ensure that health regulations are observed, including barring commuters not wearing masks from buses and metro trains, Iranian media reported.
Alireza Zali, head of the government-led Coronavirus Taskforce of Tehran, told state TV the situation in the capital was “still not favorable,” adding that the easing of restrictions should be accompanied by “more serious observance” of regulations.
As of Friday, Iran had recorded 146,668 infections, with 7,677 deaths.
Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said Friday there had been no deaths in the previous 24 hours in 15 of the country’s provinces and one in each of five provinces.
The provinces of Khuzestan in the southwest, and Baluchistan in the southeast of the country, have been declared “red” areas where there are still high levels of infection.
The health ministry has divided the country into white, yellow and red areas based on the number of infections and deaths.