Polish adviser says Israel wants ‘monopoly on the Holocaust’

In this June 25, 2015 file photo railway tracks lie in front of the main entrance of former Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in Oswiecim, Poland. (AP)
Updated 11 February 2018

Polish adviser says Israel wants ‘monopoly on the Holocaust’

WARSAW, Poland: An adviser to Poland’s president says he thinks Israel’s negative reaction to a law criminalizing some statements about Poland’s actions during World War II stemmed from a “feeling of shame at the passivity of the Jews during the Holocaust.”
Andrzej Zybertowicz, a Nicolaus Copernicus University sociology professor who also serves as a presidential adviser, called Israel’s opposition to the new law “anti-Polish” and said it shows the Mideast nation is “clearly fighting to keep the monopoly on the Holocaust.”
“Many Jews engaged in denunciation, collaboration during the war. I think Israel has still not worked it through,” Zybertowicz said in the interview in the Polska-The Times newspaper Friday.
Zybertowicz could not immediately be reached for comment but tweeted a link to the article.
His remarks follow open expressions of anti-Semitism that surfaced online and in some government-controlled media when Israeli officials objected to the law, which outlaws public statements that falsely and intentionally attribute Nazi crimes to Poland under the German occupation.
The ruling party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, appeared to acknowledge the recent outburst of anti-Jewish rhetoric in the country, denouncing anti-Semitism in a speech Saturday night as a “serious illness of the soul” and an “illness of the mind” that must be rejected. At the same time, he said Poland does not have to agree with “either Jews or Poles,” who want to “offend” Poland.
Jews have sometimes been described, often derisively, as having remained passive during the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust. Key acts of resistance contradict that, most notably the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943. Smaller revolts took place in the death camps, including Sobibor and Treblinka, where starving prisoners without weapons faced heavily armed German guards.
In Israel, some fear the Polish speech law will allow the Polish government to whitewash the role some individual Poles had in the deaths of Jews. The law allows for prison terms of up to three years.
Polish President Andrzej Duda and other government officials said it was needed because Poles sometimes are depicted as collaborators or complicit in the Nazi genocide.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday that she won’t get involved or interfere with Poland’s law because “as Germans, we are responsible for the things that happened during the Holocaust.” Merkel said in her weekly podcast that the onus on Germany from the Holocaust is something every German government will have to address.
Duda signed the law on Tuesday but also asked the country’s constitutional court to review it.
Poland’s government went into exile abroad when German forces took over, while an underground army at home resisted the Nazis. After Jews, ethnic Poles made up the largest group of victims at the Nazi-run camps. There were, however, cases of Poles who identified Jews to the Germans or killed them directly.


Turkey accused of using illegal phosphorus munitions in Syria

Updated 6 min 53 sec ago

Turkey accused of using illegal phosphorus munitions in Syria

  • Reports are credible, expert tells Arab News
  • Hospitals report spike in burns victims

ANKARA: Accusations that Turkey has used banned incendiary weapons against civilians in its invasion of northern Syria are credible, a leading security analyst told Arab News on Saturday.

Kurdish leaders said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s fighter jets had dropped munitions containing napalm and white phosphorus on civilian targets in the border town of Ras Al-Ain, a key objective for Turkish troops.

“The Turkish aggression is using all available weapons against Ras Al-Ain,” the Kurdish administration said. “Faced with the obvious failure of his plan, Erdogan is resorting to weapons that are globally banned, such as phosphorus and napalm.”

Nicholas Heras, an analyst at the Center for New American Security, told Arab News: “There are now multiple credible reports that Turkey has used white phosphorus munitions in its campaign in northeast Syria, and especially against the stubborn defenders of the city of Ras Al-Ain.”

The attacks on Ras Al-Ain are being investigated by UN chemical weapons inspectors, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and Human Rights Watch. 

OPCW said it had “not yet determined the credibility of these allegations,” and its inspectors were monitoring the situation.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Erdogan’s jets ‘dropped munitions containing napalm and white phosphorus in Ras Al-Ain.’
  • The attacks are being probed by UN chemical weapons inspectors and Human Rights Watch.
  • A video posted on social media shows children with burns that a doctor says were consistent with the use of banned weapons.

If the use of banned incendiary weapons were proved, it would be a grave violation of Turkey’s pledge to wage war with concern for civilian lives, Heras said.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said there had been a spike in burn wounds treated at the Syrian-Kurdish hospital at Tal Tamir, mostly casualties brought in from the Ras Al-Ain area. 

The Kurdish Red Crescent said at least six people were being treated in hospital for burns. 

Kurdish officials posted a video on social media showing children with burns that one doctor in Hasakeh province said were consistent with the use of banned weapons.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a British chemical weapons expert, told the UK newspaper The Times that the burns appeared to have been caused by white phosphorus.

The substance may be used to create a smoke screen, or as a battlefield marker, especially at night, but its use as an incendiary weapon is prohibited under international law.

Since 1997, Turkey has been a signatory to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.

Dr. Willem Theo Oosterveld, a senior fellow at the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies, said the deployment of white phosphorus was not explicitly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. 

However, he said, under humanitarian law “the use of means and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering is prohibited.”