Efraim Podoksik Michael Kochin

Dr Efraim Podoksik (Hebrew University of Jerusalem); Prof.Michael Kochin (Tel Aviv University)

Assigning moral collective responsibility to the entire nation for the crimes committed by individuals without any top-down legitimacy serves only those who want to erase the difference between the perpetrator and the innocent, and thus... - write Dr. E. Podoksik (Hebrew University) and Prof. M.Kochin (Tel Aviv University)

In recent days, many important Israeli politicians published statements regarding the state and the Polish nation in the context of assigning Poland responsibility for the crimes of the Holocaust. In response to the Polish law, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) has begun work on a new law. In this situation, we feel obliged to distance ourselves from these irresponsible statements and set in order historical facts.

During the Second World War, Poland fell victim to external aggression. For the fourth time in its history it was divided and experienced occupation by a foreign state - the most cruel of all. The Polish state was liquidated and the nation received a blow to the heart when its elites were subjected to systematic extermination. Nazi ideologues considered Poles to be people of a lower race.

Millions of Poles have lost their lives. Nevertheless, the Polish nation never succumbed to the aggressor, fighting bravely with the invaders and inciting the uprising against the occupant. No puppet fascist regime was created. The only legal representative of the Poles was the government in exile, which took action to inform the world as soon as possible about the extermination of Jews by Nazi Germany. As in almost every Nazi occupied country, there were individuals who - guided by bad motives, greed or fear - cooperated with the occupant. Some collaborators participated in the genocide of the Jewish people. Among these collaborators were both Polish Jews and people of Polish nationality.

Totalitarian oppression causes that among ordinary people some become heroes, but some turn out to be scoundrels and weaklings. What's more, it is unwise to assign moral collective responsibility to the entire nation for the crimes committed by individuals without any top-down legitimacy, because it serves only those who want to erase the difference between the perpetrator and the innocent, and thus - to taint the latter with the crimes of the former.

For the last 30 years, after achieving full independence, a strong democracy has developed in Poland. As in every democratic country, there are heated disputes over various issues. There is, of course, a whole cross-section of views on the sound or legitimacy of this or that law. However, it is not our task as citizens of a fraternal democratic state to interfere in this debate nor to teach another free country of democracy. Strong friendship between Israel and Poland over the past decade is a good example of how relations between the two democratic nations should look like. We should not let unnecessary political opportunism destroy this friendship.

Source: Plus Minus, Rzeczpospolita daily  http://www.rp.pl/Plus-Minus/302089921-Podoksik-Kochin-Polska-nie-odpowiada-za-zbrodnie-Holokaustu.html&cid=44&template=restricted