Leslaw Piszewski, the President of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, has issued a shocking cry for help to the country’s ruling party on the issue of antisemitism.
The letter, addressed to the ruling Law and Justice Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, says they are “appalled by recent events and fearful for our security as the situation in our country is becoming more dangerous”.
Jewish communities in Poland are reportedly having to spend more and more money on security, facing a threat of growing antisemitic incitement from far right groups, most of which appears to go unreported, at least in English.
The letter was co-authored by Anna Chipczynska, a Jewish leader in Warsaw, who expressed concerns that groups affiliated with the Law and Justice Party have been involved in the incitement.
A lawmaker for the Party, Bogdan Rzonca, wrote on Twitter last month “I wonder why there are so many Jews among those performing abortions, despite the Holocaust”, in a claim eerily reminiscent of blood libel. This comment went completely unpunished.
President Andrzej Duda has accused Jews of separating themselves from the rest of Poland and the Defence Minister, Antoni Macierewicz, has defended the antisemitic hoax the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Despite these troubling signs, Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich said that “Poland is still a good place to be Jewish, safer than many other places in Europe” and that the letter is “a sign of maturity of the kind that exists in many self-confident Jewish communities, who feel comfortable to speak out when they identify negative or dangerous trends”. Nonetheless, in a country in which almost all the Jewish population was murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators in the Holocaust, with around 2.7 million Polish Jews being killed, it is extremely troubling to see that 70 years on, antisemitism is still an acceptable part of political life.