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Participants wave Israeli flags at the main gate of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp during the 'March of the Living.' Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Trump administration has urged Israel several times in the last few weeks to try to solve the crisis that erupted with Poland over a controversial law which makes it illegal to attribute crimes committed during the Holocaust to Poland.

A senior official at the Israeli foreign ministry told me: "The Americans made clear they don’t like the Holocaust law, think it is unacceptable and asked the Polish government to fix it. But at the same time they told us Poland is an important U.S. ally, especially in NATO, and also an Israeli ally and therefore there is a need to deal with the crisis carefully and not damage the alliance."

Senior Israeli officials told me the U.S. conveyed their messages in several channels both to the Israeli government and to opposition leaders and asked them to temper their public rhetoric against Poland:

  • The White House and State Department conveyed messages to Israel's ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, and to other diplomats at the Israeli embassy about the importance of relations with Poland. Similar messages were passed from Washington to the Prime Minister's office and the Foreign ministry in Jerusalem.
  • Vice President Pence met with the head of the Israeli opposition, Itzhak Herzog, on March 5 in Washington and raised the Poland crisis. An Israeli foreign ministry official said Pence asked Herzog to temper his critical statements against the Polish government and help solve the crisis, and Herzog stressed that the bill and the rhetoric about it from the Polish government were highly offensive and unacceptable. Herzog refused to comment for this story, as did the VP's office.
  • The State Department also asked the Israeli and Polish embassies to co-sponsor an annual Holocaust memorial day ceremony. Officials from both embassies also spoke at the ceremony on Wednesday.

The law:

  • The Holocaust law carries penalties of up to three years in prison, and is expected to apply to violators outside of Poland as well in the country.
  • After the uproar in Israel and the U.S., Polish President Andrzej Duda decided to use his authority and ask the constitutional court to review the law. The Polish government gave Israel a commitment not to implement it before the ruling.
  • Starting April 15th, the Polish constitutional court will be able to give its verdict on the Holocaust bill. Both the Polish ministry of Justice and the Polish human rights ombudsman have provided legal opinions which stress that several parts of the bill were either illegal or unconstitutional.
  • If the court orders the Polish parliament to review the bill and amend parts of it, that could lead to the end of the crisis with Israel.

Go deeper

Most teachers are white. Most students aren't.

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The nation's 6.6 million teacher workforce has grown more racially and ethnically diverse over the past three decades — but not nearly fast enough to keep pace with a student population that's nearing majority-minority in public schools, two new reports show.

Why it matters: The disparities are especially acute between Hispanic students and teachers, and in schools with 90% or higher non-white student populations.

Updated 12 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 13 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.