WARSAW – Poland’s foreign minister demanded on Monday an explanation from Israeli authorities as to how someone was able to deface the gates outside the Polish consulate in Tel Aviv with crudely-drawn swastikas and slurs.
The graffiti daubed on the exterior parameter of the consulate building appeared amid high tensions between Poland and Israel following Warsaw’s recent decision to pass legislation making it illegal to implicate Poland in the events of the Holocaust, in which at least 6 million people, mainly Jews, were killed at the hands of the Nazis in World War II.
“The Israeli government is responsible for the security of our institutions in that country,” protested Jacek Czaputowicz, Poland’s top diplomat and member of the right-wing populist Law and Justice Party (PiS).
As well as swastikas, the graffiti equated Poland to “murderers” and dubbed the consulate building “Polish shit.”
Israeli police said they had opened an investigation into the incident.
Critics of the so-called Holocaust bill, which also outlaws the term “Polish death camps” in reference to the notorious extermination camps, such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, operated by the Nazis during their occupation of Poland, have denounced it as a bid to whitewash history.
Both Israel and the United States have urged Warsaw to reconsider the legislation.
However, tensions were further escalated on Saturday when, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki suggested there were also Jewish perpetrators in the Holocaust, prompting immediate outrage from his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Polish government hastened together an explanatory statement in a bid to allay fears that its leader was in any way denying the Holocaust.
It is estimated that as many as 3 million Polish Jews were murdered during the Nazi German occupation of the country, while some 2 million non-Jewish Poles were also killed.
Several historians, however, have documented several instances Polish collaboration with the Nazi occupiers during the war.
These range from accounts of individuals revealing the location of Jewish hideouts to the Nazis to murder and direct involvement in the genocide of the country’s Jewish population.