The media and the Holocaust Act test Poland’s relations with the United States and Israel

After lawmakers passed two bills that the government was warned to abandon, Poland is facing a more difficult relationship with its two main allies.

After lawmakers approved a separate bill on foreign media ownership and family property rights affecting Holocaust survivors, Poland is considering a more difficult relationship with its two allies, the United States and Israel, and the Polish government has been warned to abandon the Holocaust bill.

The European Union also criticized the media bill on Thursday for undermining media freedom and exacerbating tensions between Warsaw and Brussels over the EU’s perception of a retrogression in Polish democracy.

These bills were passed in the lower house of the Polish parliament on Wednesday, but still need to be reviewed by the Senate and signed by the President, who supports the right-wing parties that have ruled the country since 2015.

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U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Brinken issued a statement on Wednesday evening:

Calling it “disturbing legislation”, calling Poland’s NATO “based on a shared commitment to common democratic values ​​and prosperity.”

“These legislations run counter to the principles and values ​​represented by modern democracies,” Brinken said.

Regarding the media bill, Morawiecki said: “We have no intentions on specific TV channels. This is just to tighten regulations so that companies outside the EU will not freely buy media in Poland.”

The media and the Holocaust Act test Poland's relations with the United States and Israel
The media and the Holocaust Act test Poland’s relations with the United States and Israel

The bill triggered nationwide protests on Tuesday:

Among the participants who expressed concern that their independent information rights would be attacked were older Poles who remembered the censorship system of the communist era.

In contrast, Poland has almost no media coverage of laws affecting former owners of Jews and non-Jews. But it triggered a quick and angry response from Israel. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid stated that this “damaged the memory of the Holocaust and the rights of the victims”.

The Speaker of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, also weighed the media vote, calling it “very worrying” and saying that if it goes into effect, it “will seriously threaten the country’s independent television.”

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To many people, this development seems to be a key move to gradually abolish the democratic standards that Poland accepted when it got rid of communism in 1989.

Hungary has paved the way for this unfree political direction, and the EU has so far been unable to ensure compliance with its values ​​there or in Poland, both of which are previous models of democratic transformation.

Critics of the party see efforts to nationalize the media as an excuse to suppress independent voices. This effort is proceeding smoothly.

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