A Polish senator for the ruling party said he would not shake hands with Israel’s ambassador and that he favors her expulsion from Poland for saying anti-Semitism was on the rise there.
In an interview published on Friday by the wPolsce news site, Jan Zaryn said: “If anyone today thinks to equate in any way the rule of the Law and Justice party to the persecution of Jews led by the communist party apparatus in 1968, or by the marshals, then I certainly will not shake hands with such a person. If this is done by the ambassador of a foreign state, then maybe we have to ask this lady to leave this country.”
His comments about Anna Azari come amid a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Poland over anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. The crisis began with the passing of a law in January that criminalises blaming Poland for Nazi crimes. Several Jewish groups said the law impedes open debate and risks censoring research. Some critics of the law said it whitewashes what they called Polish complicity.
These allegations unleashed a wave of anti-Semitic hate speech online and several real-life anti-Semitic incidents, which Azari last month condemned. According to the Never Again watchdog on anti-Semitism, the volume of anti-Semitic hate speech in Poland since January exceeds that observed in the preceding decade combined.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month called “outrageous” the remark of his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, who said in an interview that the Holocaust had not only German, Ukrainian and Polish perpetrators, but Jewish ones, too.
The United States has also publicly condemned Poland’s legislation on discourse about the Holocaust and, according to one report, is resolved not to host Poland’s senior leadership until the crisis is resolved.
Azari revisited this issue during a speech last week at an event in Warsaw commemorating the evnts of March 1968. That year, a student uprising that began over the expulsion of two Jews critical of communism from the University of Warsaw prompted a government-led campaign of anti-Semitic incitement that ended with the emigration of tens of thousands of Jews. They left their possessions in Poland and stripped of their Polish nationality.
Since January, “it has been very easy to wake up and recall all anti-Semitic demons in Poland,” Azari said in the speech.
While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.
That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.
We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.
Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”