US/World News

European Jewish group slams Polish inaction over antisemitism

(JTA) – In an unusually harsh condemnation, the European Jewish Congress said the Polish government has a “staggering lack of concern” about antisemitism and a “transparent divide-and-rule tactic” vis-a-vis Jews. The statement Thursday, August 31 follows an open feud between leaders of Polish Jewry on whether Poland has seen an increase in antisemitic incidents or sentiment since the rise to power of the nationalist Law and Justice Party in 2015. The EJC statement offers support for the organization’s Poland affiliates, the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland and the Jewish Community of Warsaw, in their fight with other Jewish organizations in Poland.

The fight erupted earlier this month when leaders of the affiliated groups blamed the government for allowing, if not encouraging, an alleged increase in antisemitism. Other Jewish leaders disputed the claim, saying it constitutes a partisan tactic against the ruling party by the EJC affiliates.

The statement referenced a meeting earlier this month hosted by a founder of Law and Justice, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, with two Chabad rabbis and Artur Hofman, president of the TSKZ cultural group, which is has offices in 15 cities and is Poland’s largest Jewish organization in terms of membership. An activist for Holocaust commemoration in Poland also attended the meeting. The meeting followed the publication of a critical letter that two leaders of the EJC-affiliated groups sent last month to Kaczynski asserting that there was an increase in antisemitic rhetoric and pleading with the government to intervene to curb it. The leader of the Jewish Community of Warsaw, Anna Chipczynska, told JTA that Polish Jews have reached a “low point” in their feeling of safety under Law and Justice.

But Hofman said the claims were part of a “political war” by some leaders of Polish Jewry on Law and Justice. Hofman said the EJC affiliates were exaggerating about a problem that did not really exist. On August 21, Sergiusz Kowalski, who had alerted the government about antisemitism as president of the Polish branch of the B’nai B’rith Jewish group, called the men who met with Kaczynski “court Jews.”

CAP: Polish President Andrzej Duda at the NATO Multinational Corps Northeast headquarters in Szczecin, Poland, Nov. 28, 2016. Sean Gallup Getty Images.

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