Open statement of Polish Jewish organizations to the public opinion

We, representatives of Polish Jewish organizations, express our outrage over the growing wave of intolerance, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism in Poland. Increasingly, hate speech has escaped the confines of the Internet to infiltrate the public sphere. It has found its way into newspapers and television broadcasts, including those belonging to public media outlets.

We are no longer surprised when members of local councils, parliament, and other state officials contribute anti-Semitic speech to public discourse. The number of threats and insults directed toward Poland’s Jewish community is rising. While we appreciate verbal condemnations of anti-Semitism on the part of President Andrzej Duda, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczynski, these politicians’ words ring empty and do nothing to stop the spread of evil without strong supporting actions.

On the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the anti-Semitic events of March 1968 and 75 years after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Polish Jews do not feel safe in Poland. In significant ways, present threats to Poland’s Jewish community are different from those we experienced in the past. Unlike many of Europe’s Jews today, we do not now face direct physical threats. Despite a lack of physical violence, however, our situation is far from normal.

It is unacceptable for Poland’s leaders to merely state that anti-Semitism is wrong without recognizing publically that it is a dangerous, growing problem in our country today. We receive authorities’ inaction as tacit consent for hatred directed toward the Jewish community and call upon Polish leadership to punish those whose actions threaten our wellbeing. As representatives of Polish Jewish organizations, we call on public institutions, police, media outlets, schools, and members of the Polish public to combat anti-Semitism, and we are eager to cooperate with them in this critical mission.

We know that Jews are not the only victims of Poland’s current hateful climate. We stand in solidarity with all people in Poland who experience hostility and discrimination, including Roma, Muslims, refugees, people of color, Ukrainians, and members of other national, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities. As we witness and experience hatred, we feel anger toward and shame in our country.

The current wave of anti-Semitism arose in response to an amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance. We believe this law to be poorly constructed and detrimental to open discussion of history. If Poland’s government believes that even sporadic mentions of “Polish Death Camps” must be criminalized, certainly the rising intolerance and anti-Semitic hatred in our country should be subject to similarly serious measures. Our government possesses the legal instruments to combat hatred but lacks political will. We call upon our politicians to change course.

At the same time, we reach out to the partners of myriad backgrounds with whom we have built strong Polish-Jewish relations based on mutual respect and truth. Do not allow our collective work to be in vain. The past can no longer threaten us, so long as we grapple with its truths and move forward together. More than a break in relations between Poles and Jews, which have been growing stronger in the decades since Communism, we fear the growing chasm in understandings of our national character. Stand with us as honest, brave, united Poles. We shall not be divided.

 

Związek Gmin Wyznaniowych Żydowskich w RP

Naczelny Rabin Polski

Gmina Wyznaniowa Żydowska w Warszawie

Gmina Wyznaniowa Żydowska w Katowicach

Gmina Wyznaniowa Żydowska w Krakowie

Gmina wyznaniowa Żydowska w Bielsko-Białej

Żydowski Instytut Historyczny im. E. Ringelbluma

Żydowskie Stowarzyszenie B’nai  B’rith

Żydowskie Stowarzyszenia Czulent

Fundacja Ochrony Dziedzictwa Żydowskiego

Fundacja im. Prof. Mojżesza Schorra

Fundacja Shalom

Jewish Community Centre – JCC Warszawa

Towarzystwo Społeczno- Kulturalne Żydów w Polsce

Stowarzyszenie Dzieci Holokaustu

Stowarzyszenie Żydowski Instytut Historyczny

Stowarzyszenie Midrasz

JCC Kraków

Fundacja Hillel Polska

Stowarzyszenie Drugie Pokolenie – Potomkowie Ocalałych z Holokaustu

Stowarzyszenie Żydów i Kombatantów i Poszkodowanych w II wojnie światowej

Fundacje Żydowska „Chidusz”

Żydowskie Towarzystwo Gimnastyczno-Sportowe Makabi Warszawa