On January 28th the BBC News website published a report titled “Israel criticises Poland over proposed Holocaust law” which opened as follows:
“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticised a draft Polish bill to make it illegal to accuse Poles of complicity in the Nazi Holocaust.”
Later on readers were told that:
“The country [Poland] has long objected to the use of phrases like “Polish death camps”, which suggest the Polish state in some way shared responsibility for camps such as Auschwitz.”
“The Polish government said the bill was not intended to limit freedom to research or discuss the Holocaust.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted that “Auschwitz-Birkenau is not a Polish name, and Arbeit Macht Frei is not a Polish phrase”.
The country’s Deputy Justice Minister Patryk Jaki, who authored the bill, said Israel’s objections were “proof” that it was needed.
“Important Israeli politicians and media are attacking us for the bill. On top of that they claim that Poles are co-responsible’ for the Holocaust,” he said.
“This is proof how necessary this bill is.””
The next day that report was replaced by another one headlined “Poland president to review Holocaust bill after Israel outcry” in which readers were told that:
“Poland’s draft bill, which is an amendment to an existing Polish law, would make using phrases like “Polish death camps” punishable by up to three years in prison. […]
Poland’s government insists the legislation aims to prevent the international defamation of Poland, and is not intended to impede genuine academic debate.”
The BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ also covered the story on January 28th (from 00:58 here) in an item billed as follows:
“Israel has formally reprimanded Poland’s most senior diplomat in the country, over a proposed law that would outlaw descriptions of Nazi death camps as Polish. But a member of Poland’s ruling party tells Newshour the bill is aimed at preventing Holocaust denial.”
Although presenter James Menendez did ask the Polish MP whether the bill is “an attempt to whitewash Polish history”, listeners heard an evasive reply and when Menendez observed that “there’s a lot of anger from Israel”, his interviewee responded:
“Yes exactly and there is also a lot of anger among Polish people now when they hear about that.”
To date, BBC audiences have not been informed of how that “anger” has been expressed or of criticism of the proposed law from non-Israeli sources.
“Poland’s nationalist government has won a court ruling that will enable it to take over a brand new World War Two museum and reshape its exhibition to fit a narrower Polish perspective. […]
The ruling on Tuesday by Warsaw’s Supreme Administrative Court means the Museum of the Second World War will be merged with a yet-to-be built museum on 1 February.
Poland’s Culture Minister, Piotr Glinski, will then be able to nominate his own director who can change the museum’s exhibition to fit the government’s needs. […]
Mr Glinski has said that following the merger the museum will concentrate on more Polish aspects of the war including the country’s defence against the Nazi invasion in 1939.”
Another relevant story reported by the BBC last year was also ignored in this latest coverage.
As we see, rather than building on its previous reporting on attempts by Poland’s current government to dictate a narrative of history, the BBC has elected to present this story through the context-free narrow perspective of the objections of Israeli politicians.