The Politics of Never Again

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Poland is seeking a formal agreement with Israel to regulate the terms under which Israeli schoolchildren make Holocaust study visits, amid an ongoing row over educational trips to the European country, the Associated Press reported.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz lamented this week that young Israelis are receiving a “negative image” of Poland when they visit the country during these trips.

He said that Israeli youth groups are accompanied by armed guards during their trips and their visits focus on the Holocaust only. He added that many young Israelis have no contact with their Polish peers to understand the country’s approach to Polish-Jewish history, which spans centuries.

Przydacz noted that a new agreement should regulate when the armed guards can be present and establish more contact between Polish and Israeli youths.

Before the pandemic, the trips were considered a watershed moment in Israeli education, with more than 40,000 Israeli students participating each year. The visits were suspended during the coronavirus pandemic but last week Israel announced the suspension as permanent because it said Poland’s right-wing government was trying to control the curriculum.

Przydacz countered that they have not been resumed “because we believe that (they) should be regulated by an agreement between Poland and Israel.”

At the start of World War II, Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Poland, killing nearly all of the country’s roughly three million Jews. Members of Poland’s resistance and government-in-exile had warned about the Nazi atrocities.

Thousands of Poles risked their lives to help Jews, although some others murdered or persecuted their Jewish compatriots, the AP said.

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