A new arrangement renewing Israeli school excursions to Poland has drawn criticism from Israel’s prominent Holocaust memorial because it suggests several “problematic places” that misrepresent history.
After Israel and Poland announced a ground-breaking deal to mend relations severely damaged by conflicts over how to recall Polish behavior during the Holocaust, Yad Vashem released its statement. One of the main issues was Israeli youth travel to Poland.
The March 22 agreement, which still needs to be ratified by the parliaments of both nations, emphasizes the significance of youth education “and the necessity to communicate the complete story of the sad years of the Holocaust and World War Two.”
Also, it encourages travel to “sites commemorating the Holocaust and other horrors of World War II,” including critical historical locations in each nation.
Student groups must visit at least one place from a lengthy list of memorials and museums suggested by the other government.
The tours must uphold “full historical accuracy, including the participation of Poles in the persecution, handing over, and murder of Jews during the Holocaust, as well as in acts of rescue,” according to Yad Vashem’s statement.
It claimed that “problematic sites that should not be visited in an educational setting” are included on Poland’s list of approved sites, which was developed without input.
Several locations, including museums of Jewish history, royal palaces, and art galleries, are on the list because they are already well-liked tourist attractions for Jews.
The two countries “have agreed that it is good for young people to learn about all elements of Jewish, Israeli, and Polish history, not only the Holocaust,” according to Poland’s foreign ministry.
Yad Vashem did not specify which websites it finds objectionable. Yet, the Ulma Family Museum, which chronicles the tale of a Polish family that saved Jews during the Holocaust, is also on the list.
The museum has come under fire for depicting the family, who were killed along with the Jews they protected, as typical of all Poles at the period, as opposed to a small minority who risked to save the Jews.
Another exhibit honors Poland’s so-called “cursed soldiers,” anti-communist resistance fighters who, to stop the establishment of communist authority, some of whom cooperated with the Nazis and murdered Jews near the war’s conclusion.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry downplayed the incident. It said that the list, which included several options and the well-known POLIN museum, which chronicles the history of Polish Jewry, had been authorized by Israel’s Education Ministry.
Polish politics rather than global education may be the basis for including more contentious locations that are unlikely to be visited.
As it appeals to its support base ahead of this fall’s parliamentary elections, Poland’s nationalist government can mention the list.
Poland has been one of Israel’s closest allies in Europe. However, relations have recently been worse due to disagreements about how to remember Polish involvement in the Holocaust of Jews by Nazi forces during World War II.
Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and massacred Jews and non-Jews in the millions. In contrast to other countries that Germany had taken, Poland did not have a collaborationist government. Some Poles risked their lives to defend Jews, while others helped the Germans track down and slaughter them.
The nation’s leaders, Polish nationalists, have attempted to downplay the nation’s wrongdoings and focus almost entirely on commemorating the Poles who saved Jews.
Scholars, Israeli officials, and Jews endured persecution by the Polish government during World War II.