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.


Turkish, Iranian media outlets exchange blows on Syria

A Syrian woman carrying a child walks by, in the Washukanni Camp for the internally displaced, near the predominantly Kurdish city of Hasakeh in northeastern Syria, on February 17, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 19 February 2020

Turkish, Iranian media outlets exchange blows on Syria

  • Middle East expert believes Ankara and Tehran are locked in an information war

ANKARA: Turkish and Iranian media outlets are battling as deeply rooted tensions have resurfaced. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency has published an opinion piece that critically discussed tensions with Iran over Syria. It said: “Turkey’s vision of regional development and integration is pitched against Iran’s regional strategy prioritising geopolitical wins.
“Ignoring Ankara’s concerns in the fight against terrorism during Operation Peace Spring, Tehran is now setting its Shiite militias in the field in motion against Turkey, who is actively endeavoring to prevent a humanitarian crisis.”
The analysis piece, titled “Idlib front, Iran’s weakening foreign operation capacity,” was penned by Hadi Khodabandeh Loui, a researcher at the Iran Research Center in Ankara.
Throughout Syria’s civil war, Turkey has backed rebels looking to oust Bashar Assad, while Iran has supported the Assad regime. However, the two countries are collaborating to reach a political solution to the conflict.
An editorial piece that was published in Iran’s hardline newspaper Entekhab compared Turkey’s military moves in Syria to Israel’s bombings of pro-Assad forces. The piece warned Ankara about a potential aggressive reaction from Tehran to both threats.
Israeli warplanes fired missiles at targets near Syria’s capital, Damascus, in early February and they hit Syrian Army and Iran-backed militia positions, reportedly killing 23 people.
Being among the guarantor states of the Astana peace process for Syria, aimed at ending the Syrian conflict, Turkey and Iran have already witnessed the fragility of their relations in October 2019 when Iran criticized Turkey’s moves to establish military posts inside Syria, emphasizing the need to respect the integrity of Syria.
Then, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly accused Iran of betraying the consensus between the two countries following Tehran’s condemnation of Turkey’s operation in northern Syria against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

BACKGROUND

Throughout Syria’s civil war, Turkey has backed rebels looking to oust Bashar Assad, while Iran has supported the Assad regime. However, the two countries are collaborating to reach a political solution to the conflict.

In March 2018, Iran’s Tehran Times defined Turkey’s cross-border military operation against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin as an “invasion.” It splashed with a headline that read: “Turkish troops occupy Syria’s Afrin.”
Over recent weeks, Ankara has voiced criticisms that the Assad regime, Iran-backed militia and Russia have violated the ceasefire in Syria’s rebel-held province of Idlib, with frequent attacks targeting Turkish troops.
Samuel Ramani, a Middle East analyst at the University of Oxford, thinks that Assad’s forces are winning decisively, and Turkey’s ability to resist them is greatly diminished.
“Assad’s forces have consolidated their control over west Aleppo, and are steadily advancing in Idlib. Turkey does not view the Iranian mediation offers in Syria as credible, especially as Iranian media outlets are justifying them by claiming that Turkey broke the terms of the Sochi agreement by harboring extremists. Turkey is insistent that Russia violated Sochi by supporting Assad’s offensive,” he told Arab News.
Regarding the media conflict, Ramani thinks that Turkey and Iran are locked in an information war over Syria, and are both trying to paint the other as an aggressor.
“It’s a way to rally public support in both countries around more confrontational posturing, in the event of a bigger military escalation that actually sees Turkish and Iranian forces in direct combat, not just Assad and Turkish proxies,” he said.