European leader calls on Poland to counter public surge of anti-Semitism

Poland must counter a wave of “very injudicious anti-Semitic excesses in statements been made in Poland,” the European Council President said. 

By: World Israel News Staff

A European Union (EU) leader has called on Poland to rein in its public surge of anti-Semitism, saying the situation “is very serious and directly affects Polish interests, the reputation of Poland and Poland’s standing in the world.”

European Council President Donald Tusk spoke to reporters on Friday following an informal meeting of the 27 heads of EU states, during which he was asked about “recent tensions” with Poland surrounding its new controversial bill that criminalizes the use of the term “Polish Holocaust.”

Tusk, himself a former Polish prime minister, said he discussed the issue with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. He told the Polish leader that the “situation is very serious and directly affects Polish interests, the reputation of Poland and Poland’s standing in the world.”

Tusk said he had “only one piece of advice” – Poland must do everything to stop two waves of controversy, the wave of bad opinions about Poland which is “taking on the proportions of a tsunami,” and the wave of “very injudicious anti-Semitic excesses in statements been made in Poland.”

“The government has the ways to stop both of these waves if it has the will to do so,” Tusk underscored.

The new Polish law has angered Israel, the US and other countries, and is seen as an attempt to whitewash the actions of Poles who murdered Jews or collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust.

“We have all done a lot of hard work in Poland over the last 30 years, including me, to ensure that Poland has good relations with the outside world, including with Israel and the Jewish community. We cannot allow anyone to ruin all that work in the space of just a few weeks. But it is not yet too late for concrete action to be taken. It is not too late for common decency,” Tusk said.

Poland’s Holocaust law, which takes effect February 28, has already triggered rising anti-Semitism in Poland. In reaction to criticism from Holocaust historians and others, the government said it will be reviewed by Poland’s constitutional court.

Princeton University Professor Jan Tomasz Gross, an expert on Polish complicity in the Holocaust, previously stated that Poland’s new stance dissociating itself from the Holocaust is “a step back to the dark ages of anti-Semitism.” The Polish-born sociologist and historian has stoked controversy in Poland with works that expose dark chapters in a wartime history of which Poles are otherwise proud, thanks to a strong resistance by Poles to Nazi Germany.

The latest uproar surrounding Gross began after he asserted in 2015 that Poles killed more Jews than Germans during the war. Though the exact numbers are difficult to measure, Gross said evidence indicates that Poles killed up to 30,000 Germans during the war, at most, while they probably killed 70,000 to 90,000 Jews, but possibly more.