The official line on the attack on Saturday, twenty four hours before the Pope’s visit to Auschwitz, was that it was a left wing ‘provocation’. Few are taking the claims seriously.
Chief Rabbi, Michael Schudrich, was attacked in the street at the weekend by a young man, who pushed him in the chest and sprayed him with what many think was pepper gas.
Rabbi Schundrich, a US citizen, told Radio Polonia:
'We were walking in the street and somebody just yelled out ‘Poland for Poles’, and when I hear that I am not inclined to let it go. So I confronted him and I said why do you say that, why do you believe that. He reacted by punching me in the chest and I was going to react in kind and I was going to respond in the same fashion. Before I was able to, he pulled out some pepper gas or mace and sprayed me in my face. And when he finished spraying, he took off and started running. I started running after him, but he ran faster and I didn't catch him.
Prime Minister Marcinkiewicz called me last night [Saturday] to ask what happened, how I was, I said O.K. He said that his government would be fighting very vigilantly against anti-Semitism.'
The assailant has not yet been identified or found by the police. But who was he? The most obvious suspect would be someone from a racist organization such as Młodzież Wszechpolska (All-Polish Youth), a bunch of thugs attached to one of the coalition government partners, the far-right League of Polish Families.
But the government is trying to get a rather weak conspiracy theory going about the attack. CNN reported that:
‘Schudrich was attacked in central Warsaw on Saturday in what the Interior Ministry said might have been a provocation meant to portray Poland as anti-Semitic during Pope Benedict's visit.’
Provocation? What they mean, possibly, is that someone from leftwing circles planned the attack to make Poland – and more particularly the current nationalist, populist government – look bad.
That the Interior Ministry, with very little evidence, should come out with such rubbish is shameful and ridiculous. If they want to show the world that they are a modern, civilized government then they should just get on with investigating the incident and let the far-right cranks develop their conspiracy theories where they belong – on far-right, cranky blogs.
Jews in Poland Wary of Ruling Coalition, Forward.com, May 12
Organizing against the Radical Right in Poland, anarckismo, May 21