Polish Jewish leaders ask Israel for more sensitivity in Holocaust dispute

Polish Jewish leaders say that Israeli officials should be more “sensitive” in pursuing ties with the Polish people and not “defame” them.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

“I have met many extraordinary non-Jewish Poles in Poland who inspire me every day to break stereotypes and prejudices. I hope my elected officials do the same,” writes Rabbi Avi Baumol on his Facebook page.

Originally from the United States, after which he made aliyah to Israel, Rabbi Baumol has been serving the Jewish community in Krakow, Poland.  He is an emissary of Shavei Israel in Krakow, amid a trend of Polish citizens who have been discovering that they are Jewish, following the years of the Holocaust and communist rule in Poland.

In fact, says the rabbi, there is “a revitalization as part of a resurgence of Jewish awareness in Poland.”

His comments contrast with the current crisis between the Polish and Israeli governments. A Polish delegation was due in Jerusalem Tuesday for a central European regional summit also including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary.

However, Warsaw decided to lower the rank of the delegation to the gathering after initial criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments last week which were ambiguous in whether he was suggesting that the Polish nation collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust or only Polish individuals.

Then, Poland decided to boycott Israel’s hosting of the event altogether after Israeli Acting Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz injected, in an Israeli television interview, comments made decades ago by former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir that Poles “suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk.”

It was these comments by “my elected officials” that Baumol was referring to in his Facebook post.

Asked by World Israel News how he would suggest that Israeli leaders address the currently good relationship with Poland today which also carries the baggage of anti-Semitism in that country in the past and present, Baumol replied: “With complexity and sensitivity.”

Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich was, like Baumol, born in the U.S. He, too, says that he is involved in nurturing the current Polish Jewish community and ties with the government.

Rabbi Schudrich and Monika Krawczyk, chair of the board of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, have written in a letter that Katz’s words harmed them as Jews who live in Poland.

“It is a fact that some Poles participated either actively or passively in murderous acts by Nazis against the Jews, but we remember also that the Polish government did not collaborate officially with the Third Reich,” Schudrich and Krawczyk wrote.

They also state that “it’s a fact that Poles are the majority of Righteous Gentiles. Labeling all Poles as anti-Semites defames…the true face of the Polish nation and it is a slur that also damages us, Polish Jews, who are a part of Polish society.”