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January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘polish’

Polish Court Orders German TV to Apologize for Claiming Shared Responsibility for Auschwitz

Monday, December 26th, 2016

A Polish court of appeal last week ruled that German public television network ZDF must apologize on its website to Karold Tendera, a Polish Auschwitz survivor, for using the term “Polish death camps” to describe Auschwitz and Majdanek, the Polish Press Agency PPA reported.

Tendera sued over the promotion for a ZDF documentary about the liberation of Majdanek and Auschwitz in occupied Poland. In the promotional material on the zdf.de website, the channel used the expression “Polish death camps.” The description was changed after the Polish authorities had protested.

In August 2016, the Polish cabinet of Prime Minister Beata Szydło and her Law and Justice party approved legislation that would outlaw the use of the phrase “Polish death camps.” It was expected to pass by wide margins in the Parliament, also dominated by Law and Justice. Under the law, a person who uses a phrase such as “Polish death camp” may be sentenced to up to three years in prison. This also includes anyone claiming that the Polish people or state were responsible for the crimes of the Nazis or collaborated with them or with other crimes against humanity or committed war crimes.

Anyone minimizing the role of those “truly responsible” for these crimes, meaning Nazi Germany, would be subject to the same punishment.

The punishment would apply equally to Polish citizens and foreign nationals and would include anyone who violated the law unintentionally, meaning without intending to harm Poland’s reputation. The legislation would also apply to anyone who deliberately or mistakenly refers to the Auschwitz extermination camp, which Nazi Germany built on occupied Polish soil, as a “Polish camp.”

Yad Vashem criticized the Polish bill, warning that its approval in parliament would be considered Holocaust denial and a regression in Poland’s efforts to face its dark past.

Many Jewish Holocaust survivors who grew up in Poland remember the vast majority of Poles as Nazi collaborators who turned-in their Jewish neighbors en mass. They point out that in a country with some three million Jews, fewer than 10,000 Poles risked their lives to save Jews, while most Poles expressed their tacit approval to the rounding up and murdering of their Jewish neighbors, and numerous Poles aided the Nazis in identifying the Jews in their midst.

Many Jewish survivors suggest that the reason the Nazis picked Poland for their hellish death camps was because they expected that Poles, whose government had instituted anti-Semitic racial laws several years before the 1939 invasion, would be hospitable to the death camp enterprise.

In fact after the war had ended, there were reports of pogroms by Poles against Jewish survivors who had returned home from the camps.

Polish journalist Jerzy Haszczyński wrote that when the phrase appears in foreign media, it “insidiously suggests that our state and our people were responsible for German crimes,” but confessed he wasn’t sure whom the law targets. “Almost every use of the phrase that I can recall ended with a profuse apology,” he noted.

The ruling by the court in Kraków overturned part of a verdict by a lower court which last April found that ZDF had damaged Tendera’s dignity as well as his national identity, but cited the fact that ZDF had apologized to the plaintiff in a personal letter as reason to dismiss his complaint.

JNi.Media

Polish Foreign Minister to visit Yad Vashem Wednesday

Monday, June 13th, 2016

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Witold Waszczykowski will, visit Yad Vashem on Wednesday.  The Minister will tour the Holocaust History Museum, participate in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, visit the Children’s Memorial and sign the Yad Vashem Guest Book.

David Israel

Polish Man Passes as Orthodox Jew, Bakes Challas, Leads Prayer, Disappears

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Alicja Kobus, an official of the Poznan, Poland, Jewish community, last Thursday reported that her community had been fooled by a Polish Catholic man who pretended to be an Orthodox Jew, AP reported. The man, who said his name was Ya’akav Ben Nistell, an Israeli from Haifa, wore a beard and sidecurls, and lead the congregation in Hebrew prayers. His real name is Jacek Niszczota, a cook from Ciechanow in north-central Poland.

The hoax was revealed when Niszczota’s neighbors in Ciechanow saw him on television in an ecumenical ceremony of with Catholic, Muslim and Jewish leaders, and told local journalists how their Jacek had become Ya’akav.

The Poznan community has since posted a warning on its website, saying Niszczota “deceived not only the community members but also other people with whom he cooperated on behalf of the Poznan Jewish Community.”

“He won our trust with the good things that he was doing: he baked challahs for Israel Independence Day ceremonies, he helped with maintenance of Jewish cemeteries, he had the right knowledge,” Kobus told AP.

His knowledge was deep enough to lead prayers and give lectures on Jewish tradition that were flawless. And when people addressed him as “rabbi” he did not correct them, Kobus said. She believes Niszczota picked up all that good information, including his Hebrew, by listening to Israeli Radio — which shows you what good-quality radio can do for you if you only pay attention.

Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich said he knew Niszczota and found him to be “very sweet and smiley.” The chief rabbi also noted that the entire affair is an indication of the growing clout of things Jewish in Poland, which only 70 year ago helped annihilate millions of its Jews.

“Who 30 years ago in this country would have pretended to be a rabbi, to say nothing of 70 years ago?” Schudrich noted.

It should also be noted that despite the shock expressed by the community leader about the deceit, she, too, had nothing bad to say about Jacek Niszczota, who has disappeared since his outing.

JNi.Media

Kosher Slaughter Ban Shows Poland Has a Jewish Problem

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

The Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, has a Jewish problem.

In a painful affront to the Jewish community, it recently defeated a government initiative to reinstate the legality of kosher slaughter of animals. This prompted Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, to threaten resignation and triggered sharp criticism of the Sejm from Jewish communities in Poland and around the world.

What happens in Poland regarding Jews has special significance because of the Holocaust. More than 90 percent of the country’s three and a half million Jews were killed during the Nazi occupation. Poland began legislating against kosher slaughter in 1936, and once the Germans occupied the country three years later, the practice was banned entirely.

Since the fall of the communist regime in 1989, however, Jewish life in Poland has undergone a remarkable, and previously unimaginable, renaissance. Full recognition of the rights of Jews to practice their faith – including kosher slaughter – was enshrined in an agreement the government signed with the Jewish community in 2004.

Indeed, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, addressing an overflow crowd at the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum in Washington several weeks ago, declared it was his country’s responsibility to ensure “that today’s Jewish community in Poland is safe, welcome and respected.”

He honored Poland’s Jewish community “not just for how it died, but for how it lives, and how it is coming back to life.”

When legislation was adopted a few years ago mandating the use of electronic stunning equipment before an animal is killed – a practice prohibited under Jewish law –the Jewish community was granted an administrative exemption. In January, however, a court ruled the exemption unconstitutional. Alleged violations of animal rights trumped age-old Jewish religious practice.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s government framed legislation to override the court decision. What should have been a fairly easy corrective measure was instead defeated on July 12 by a vote of 222 to 178, leaving in place the judicial ban.

Thirty-eight Sejm members representing Tusk’s ruling Civic Platform party joined with the opposition in voting to outlaw ritual slaughter. In Poland, this was viewed as a major victory for animal rights advocates, as their views prevailed against the nation’s farmers and meatpackers, who had developed a lively business exporting kosher and halal meat to Israel and Muslim countries.

Jews, however, see matters quite differently. From their perspective, the Sejm’s action stigmatizing kosher slaughter as inhumane blatantly contradicts Foreign Minister Sikorski’s pledge to make Jews “safe, welcome and respected.” They point out that kosher slaughter, whereby the animal is rendered immediately unconscious by severing the carotid artery, is humane, and that the continued legality of hunting in Poland, which results in far greater and more indiscriminate pain to animals, suggests there may in fact be another, unstated reason for outlawing kosher slaughter: anti-Semitism.

In the wake of the Sejm vote, pejorative comments about Jews in some of the Polish media and online give some credence to these fears.

Unfortunately, it is not an isolated incident. The situation for European Jews looks even grimmer in a broader context. Just a few months ago, a similar scenario unfolded in Germany when a court banned ritual circumcision, another fundamental element of the Jewish religion, on the grounds that it mutilated children without their consent. There, too, anti-Semitic motivation was not hard to discern in certain quarters amid the talk about physiological and psychological harm.

Fortunately, Chancellor Angela Merkel navigated a bill through the German parliament overruling the court and reestablishing the religious freedom of Jews to continue an age-old tradition of their faith. Whether Poland will successfully follow her example and push through a law guaranteeing the right to kosher slaughter remains to be seen.

Such attacks on Jewish religious practice, in fact, constitute just one front in a wider struggle over the future of Jewish life in Europe. Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise, increasing by 30 percent between 2011 and 2012. In France, there was an astounding 58 percent jump over that same period, including the targeted murder last year of four Jews, three of them small children, in Toulouse.

Vocally anti-Semitic political parties are represented in the Greek and Hungarian parliaments and are gaining power on the local and regional levels in other countries. Public opinion polls show alarmingly high levels of anti-Semitic attitudes. Demonization of Israel in the media and among some intelligentsia is often indistinguishable from Jew-baiting. No wonder that opinion surveys point to a striking number of European Jews contemplating emigration.

Lawrence Grossman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/kosher-slaughter-ban-shows-poland-has-a-jewish-problem/2013/08/14/

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