Education Ministry warns private firms not to plan youth Holocaust trips to Poland – The Times of Israel

The Education Ministry on Sunday cautioned private organizations against organizing Holocaust heritage trips for school children in place of official government trips that have been canceled since June, thanks to a diplomatic dispute with Poland.
In a letter to private firms, Dudi Shokaf, manager of the youth missions to Poland, said that the state cannot provide security on such trips, and would not be able to assist travel groups if they encountered any issues abroad.
He said private organizations did not have the authority to send high school groups to Poland, warning of legal action if they were to go through with their plans.
“The ministry reserves the right to take all legal measures available to it against the relevant parties, the organizers of the delegations, service providers, and others,” the letter read.
The annual educational trips — which are attended by thousands of young Israelis — were suspended during the pandemic; in June, Israel said they would not resume because Poland’s right-wing government was trying to control the curriculum.
“They wanted to dictate what was allowed and what wasn’t allowed to be taught to Israeli children who go to Poland and that we cannot agree with,” then-foreign minister Yair Lapid said during a news conference.
Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz charged that young Israelis were receiving a “negative image” of Poland, because of the armed guards accompanying the youth groups, the visits’ focus on the Holocaust only, and a lack of contact with Polish youth.
“There are also threads appearing [to suggest] that Poland is an antisemitic country and for that reason, it’s dangerous here,” Przydacz told Radio RMF24.
He said a new intergovernmental agreement should state in which cases guards with loaded weapons can be present. Warsaw has been seeking such a deal for months, Przydacz said.
Poland would also like young Israelis to meet with their Polish peers and understand their approach to Polish-Jewish history that spans many centuries.
In August, the Polish government said they had offered their alternative plan which would allow the trips to be restarted, but did not receive a response from Israel.
The Education Ministry said the program would 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 Poland’s resistance and government-in-exile struggled to warn the world about the mass killing of Jews, and thousands of Poles risked their lives to help Jews.
Young Israelis traditionally travel to Poland in the summer between 11th and 12th grade to tour former Nazi camps in order to learn about the Holocaust and memorialize those murdered.
However, Holocaust researchers have collected ample 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 nearly all of Poland’s roughly 3 million Jews, were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust, and major Nazi death camps were in Poland.
These dueling narratives have been a source of great tension between Israel and Poland, which otherwise have strong relations.
The trip has long been considered a milestone in Israeli education and, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, some 40,000 Israeli students participated each year. About 7,000 were registered to go this past summer, according to the Education Ministry.
Israeli elections are coming around yet again — this time on November 1. How did the electoral system become so dysfunctional, and what could resolve the repeated deadlocks?
The Times of Israel is proud to present a new, limited series podcast, Paralyzed Nation: How Israel’s dysfunctional electoral system still can be fixed. Our political analysts and reporters address your questions on the burning issues facing the Israeli electorate today. 
Available for ToI Community members only.
We’re really pleased that you’ve read X Times of Israel articles in the past month.
That’s why we started the Times of Israel ten years ago – to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.
So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.
For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.
Thank you,
David Horovitz, Founding Editor of The Times of Israel
Today’s Daily Briefing
Miami Boys Choir takes TikTok; fragile calm on Lebanon border
Coronavirus latest


Leave a Comment