Poland’s Foreign Ministry was to summon Israel’s ambassador to the country to seek clarification on remarks he made about Holocaust legacy trips for Israeli schoolchildren, which stopped in the middle of a diplomatic dispute between the countries.
Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski on Friday accused Israel’s Ambassador Yacov Livne of “misleading the public as to why the trips are not taking place” and refusing communicate directly with the ministry.
Livne said Thursday at an event marking the 79th anniversary of the uprising at Poland’s Sobibor death camp that it was “impossible” for Israeli youth to visit the memorial site “due to decisions made by the Polish ministry. Foreign Affairs”.
He added that Israel did not understand Poland’s position on the issue and that the matter should be resolved.
Annual educational trips, attended by thousands of young Israelis, have been suspended during the pandemic; in June, Israel said they would not resume because Poland’s right-wing government was trying to control the school curriculum.
Poland has previously accused young Israelis of receiving a “negative image” of Poland, due to armed guards accompanying youth groups, the tours’ focus solely on the Holocaust, and lack of contact with the community. Polish youth.
Jablonski said Livne will be called up on Monday. Israel’s Kan public broadcaster said the clarification meeting would be postponed until Wednesday, with the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah falling on Monday.
“I regret that Mr. Ambassador [Yacov Livne] decided to contact [the Polish Foreign Ministry] through the media and public appearances,” Jablonski posted on Twitter.
He added that the issue in question was Israel’s request to accompany youth groups with guards.
“Security rules should be the same as in other similar countries, that is, without armed protection. Poland should be treated to the same standard,” Jablonski said.
In August, the Polish government said it had offered its alternative plan that would allow travel to resume, but received no response from Israel.
The Ministry of Education said the program will not be renewed in the near future.
Poland was invaded and occupied by Adolf Hitler’s regime in 1939 and never had a collaborationist government. Members of the Polish resistance and government-in-exile fought to warn the world of the massacre of Jews, and thousands of Poles risked their lives to help Jews.
However, Holocaust scholars have collected plenty of evidence of Polish villagers who murdered Jews fleeing the Nazis, or Polish blackmailers who preyed on helpless Jews for financial gain. Six million Jews, including almost all of Poland’s approximately 3 million Jews, were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust, and the main Nazi death camps were in Poland.
The tales of dueling have been a source of great tension between Israel and Poland.
Young Israelis traditionally travel to Poland in the summer between grades 11 and 12 to visit former Nazi camps to learn about the Holocaust and to commemorate those murdered.
The trip has long been considered a milestone in Israeli education, and before the COVID-19 pandemic, some 40,000 Israeli students participated in it each year. About 7,000 were registered to go last summer, according to the Ministry of Education.
Agencies contributed to this report.