State Assemblyman Dov Hikind has joined a small but growing number of Jewish organizations who are urging Jews not to travel to Poland.
Hikind (D-Brooklyn), whose Assembly district includes a large number of Holocaust survivors, today called upon the International March of the Living to suspend its trips to Poland, following the Polish government’s recent adoption of a law that makes it a crime to refer to “Polish death camps” or to refer to Polish complicity in the Holocaust.
In a letter to Shmuel Rosenman, chairman of the organization that brings groups of high school students to Poland for an itinerary that largely features visits to concentration camps and other sites connected with the Shoah, Hikind said the program “can make an even greater difference this year by suspending its trip.”
“Seeing Poland’s government attempt to whitewash its role in the murder of innocent men, women and children via their despicable Holocaust Denial Law has had a chilling effect on all of us who understand what really occurred in Poland — both before, during and after the war,” Hiking wrote.”
While many Holocaust survivors speak of a climate of anti-Semitism that for decades characterized relations between Jews in Poland and their non-Jewish neighbors, historians point out that the concentration camps on Polish soil were built and administered by Nazi Germany.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has indicated that it is considering a limited travel ban on Poland, and Temple Sholom in Scotch Plains, N.J., has removed Poland from the itinerary of its 2018 confirmation class Jewish heritage trip.
“Not visiting the concentration camps where innocent souls were murdered by the Nazis – many after being turned over by their Polish neighbors – will be a statement heard around the world,” Hikind said. “Holding back the 12,000 [March of the Living] travelers who spend their money in Poland is a statement that will not be ignored.”