Tuesday, March 05, 2019

The Times of Israel: Polish anti-Semitism festers on the internet

To read the entire item, kindly click on this link:

https://www.timesofisrael.com/polish-anti-semitism-festers-on-the-internet/

Polish anti-Semitism festers on the internet

‘The old stereotypes are resurfacing,’ says prominent member of Jewish community as nation faces resurgent nationalist right

The German words 'Jude Raus' (Jew, get out) are written on the building of the Citizens of Poland (Obywatele RP) movement on February 26, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland. (Janek Skarzynski/AFP)
The German words 'Jude Raus' (Jew, get out) are written on the building of the Citizens of Poland (Obywatele RP) movement on February 26, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland. (Janek Skarzynski/AFP)
WARSAW, Poland (AFP) — Graffiti of a swastika and the words “Jude Raus” (Jew, get out) recently appeared overnight on the headquarters of a liberal opposition movement in the Polish capital Warsaw.
The act of vandalism in late February is the latest sign that anti-Semitism persists in the EU member nation, even if it mostly rears its ugly head on the internet.
“Twenty years ago I would have said that anti-Semitism is on the wane but that’s no longer the case. The old stereotypes are resurfacing,” said Stanislaw Krajewski, a University of Warsaw professor and prominent member of the Jewish community.
“Anti-Semitism is still present in Poland. It’s part of the overall climate,” he told AFP.
“But it’s most aggressive on the internet. It doesn’t come up in my day-to-day life,” added Krajewski, who also co-founded an organization for dialogue with Christians.
For his part, journalist Konstanty Gebert said he had never had cause for concern when walking around Warsaw in his yarmulke.
“Sometimes, very rarely, I get comments. I don’t respond and usually someone else answers for me,” he told AFP.
“In Paris, on the other hand, I was jostled a couple of times by young people. Other passersby just looked away.”
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Last year, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) released a survey on discrimination and hate crimes against Jews in the EU.
Self-identified Jewish respondents from a dozen EU member states were asked how often they had heard or seen non-Jews make anti-Semitic remarks like “Jews have too much power in (country)” or “Jews exploit Holocaust victimhood for their own purposes.”
In most of the survey’s sample statements, Poland had the highest percentage of respondents reporting having witnessed anti-Semitism.
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‘Two Polands’

Poland’s far right has expressed its ideas more openly since the conservative Catholic Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power in 2015.
In Gebert’s view, those currently in power are “schizophrenic” in their approach to the far right.
“PiS condemns anti-Semitism. (Its leader) Jaroslaw Kaczynski has even condemned anti-Zionism as a form of anti-Semitism,” Gebert said.
“Yet at the same time, the PiS needs around nine percent of the far-right vote. Its biggest nightmare is to have a local version of Hungary’s (far-right) Jobbik party appear in Poland.”
He said the far right enjoys implicit support from the governing conservatives, all in the name of freedom of expression.

A sticker reading ‘Fuck You Israel’ on the window of the Citizens of Poland (Obywatele RP) movement on February 26, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland. (Janek Skarzynski/AFP)
“The fact that the far right doesn’t resort to violence is first and foremost because there are so few of us (Jews),” Gebert added.
But Krajewski pointed out that “at the same time, there’s an increasing awareness here of Jewish heritage and the desire to preserve it.”
As an example, he cited a recent contest from the Forum for Dialogue Among Nations — a foundation aimed at bringing Poles and Jews closer together — that garnered dozens of submissions from secondary school students.
“People don’t realize, even in Israel, that there are two Polands,” said Krajewski’s wife Monika, an artist and writer.