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Israel Holocaust survivors storm Polish embassy to oppose new law

By Sara Shayanian
Israel Holocaust survivors storm Polish embassy to oppose new law
Members of Rome's Jewish community demonstrate in front of the Polish Embassy in Italy on Thursday. A similar protest was held in Tel Aviv, Israel, to oppose a new Polish law that makes it illegal to accuse Warsaw of complicity in Nazi war crimes. Photo by Fabio Frustaci/EPA-EFE

Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Holocaust survivors in Israel stormed the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv Thursday to protest a new law that makes it illegal to blame the Warsaw government for the mass extermination of Jews during World War II.

The survivors, accompanied by younger Israelis, stormed the Polish compound and rallied outside the building. They also surrounded one diplomat's car.

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The demonstrators held signs with messages like, "No law will erase history," "The Polish law spits in the Israeli people's face" and "I still have nightmares because of what the Poles did."

The protest was organized by the Yad Ezer La-Haver foundation, which runs a home for Holocaust survivors in Haifa, Israel.

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"We are here to voice our protest, and we promise it won't be quiet," Shimon Sabag, the foundation's CEO, said.

Survivors shouted outside the building that "no law will erase history."

"You should be ashamed of yourselves. I escaped from Auschwitz and still cry every night because of what I went through there," 95-year-old Shalom Steinberg, of Haifa, said. "Many others like me did not survive, and we will not forget that the Nazis massacred us on your Polish soil."

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Thursday's protest came days after Polish President Andrzej Duda signed the controversial legislation.

The law sparked a diplomatic crisis between Warsaw and Tel Aviv, with Israel and the United States strongly opposing the legislation.

"This guarantees Polish interests, such as our dignity and the historical truth -- that we will be fairly evaluated in the world," Duda said when he signed the bill.

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"On the other hand, my decision takes into account the sensitivity of people for whom the historical truth and the truth about the Holocaust is extremely important."

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