Monday, June 26, 2006

Poland: fascist state?


Just how bad are things getting for minorities in Poland? Minorities disagree among themselves.

The Daily Telegraph has a rather alarming quote today by Mark Edelman, 87, the oldest surviving member of the Warsaw Jewish Ghetto uprising of 1943. Commenting on what he sees as the proto-fascist government coalition led by Law and Justice (PiS), he warned, ominously:

“If we want to save Poland, my advice would be to take up the knife and hit them where it hurts."

A rather silly thing to say – but it shows how bad things have got in some people’s eyes.

The remark comes after revelations in the Polish press that the new, government appointed vice chairman of public television, TVP, had once published a magazine (pictured - at the bottom you can see the name of the editor) calling for the expulsion of Jews from Poland. A photo was also published of Piotr Farfal, a former skinhead, giving a Nazi salute.

He claims that he was only waving at someone he was saying hello to. In one article he wrote, aged 18: "We won't tolerate cowards, traitors and jews.".

He obviously had a troubled youth. Now he is a lawyer. Maybe he grew up a little?

Maybe.

Poland a proto-fascist state? Poland’s chief rabbi, Micheal Schudrich, - who was attacked in the street when Pope Benedict was visiting Poland in May - doesn’t think so. After the New York Times wrote an article under the headline Poland's Bigoted Government Schudrich ran to the government’s rescue and fired off an email to the NYT editors:

‘President Kaczynski invited me to the Presidential Palace, where he reiterated his condemnation of anti-Semitism and the important place that the re-emerging Jewish community of Poland has in today's society.

Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga sent me a letter vowing actively to fight anti-Semitism. The mayor of Lodz, Jerzy Kropiwnicki, called me with the same sense of outrage.

There are many challenges facing Poland's new coalition. In this instance, it is not the case that "the rest of the government's actions give a wink to official bigotry."

But, crucially, Schudrich goes on:

‘Tellingly, there was no response from the League of Polish Families [the deputy chairman of TVP's party], the ultranationalist anti-Semitic party recently invited into the governing coalition. ‘

We have a government coalition made up of traditional conservatives. Some of them are very dodgy indeed. But likening Poland to a 1930s proto-fascist state, as Edelman seems to, misses the point that it is not the 1930s any longer. It’s a different world now and age of dictatorships and all that accompanies them has ended.

What is worrying, however, is the number of young people who are leaving and going to live in the UK, Ireland...anywhere. These are progressively minded people, almost by definition. That further weakens an already weak and ineffective liberal opposition.

So no fascist state, but I’m afraid the coalition government has been giving more than just a wink to bigotry.

49 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

Fascism is a word thrown around too loosely.

Google Trotsky's definition. A reactionary, military ruled or authoritarian state, still doesn't mean fascist. Fascism means the total annihilation of the revolutionary movement, middle class gangs unleashed against minorities, the progressive movements underground.

Michael Farris said...

I completely agree, rhetorical overkill does more harm than good.

But, I dare _anyone_ to argue that Poland's going in a good direction right now.

Redwine said...

"Fascism means the total annihilation of the revolutionary movement, middle class gangs unleashed against minorities, the progressive movements underground." - take it easy Renegade. You just defined the USSR and the Eastern bloc, though you meant something else.The exception would be the "middle class gangs", but 'middle class' had a very different definition back then.

'What is worrying, however, is the number of young people who are leaving and going to live in the UK, Ireland...anywhere. These are progressively minded people, almost by definition. That further weakens an already weak and ineffective liberal opposition.' Beatroot, agreed: and not only in Poland. And who can blame them?

David Essing said...

Poor argument Beatroot. It lacks any convincing evidence that Poland is racist.

Beatroot wrote:

*What is worrying, however, is the number of young people who are leaving and going to live in the UK, Ireland...anywhere.
So no fascist state, but I’m afraid the coalition government has been giving more than just a wink to bigotry.*

They are (and have been) leaving for a long time, since the EU opened up it's labor markets, to simply make more money. This has happened when Kwasniewski was in office, and it is happening now as well. It has nothing to do with racism. It is only currently being blown out of proportion to discredit Kaczynski's coalition government.

*So no fascist state, but I’m afraid the coalition government has been giving more than just a wink to bigotry.*

You seem to enjoy exaggerating. Poland has a proven track record against bigotry and discrimination. You can hardly consider, for example, a single attack on Poland's chief rabbi (the suspect is still unknown, and could have very well been a setup by the 'left' to smear the coalition government), or a few comments about gays, valid reasons to consider Poland's government as racist. Even more ridiculous are several threatening cell phone text messages to a few university students. The left or anti-coalitionists must dream up more incidents to even be taken remotely serious. Please provide better proof of racism or bigotry in Poland?

Poland's government is heading in the 'right' direction literally, and it's a good thing. Ok Michael?

Newspaper Reader said...

David Essing: "a few comments about gays" do not a bigot make. How about beating them off the streets? Banning their demonstrations? Sacking teachers who teach tolerance?

Dave Essing said...

Newspaper reader said:

"How about beating them off the streets?"

You cannot translate a few protestors actions into being 'Poland's Fascist or biggoted Government'.

"Banning their demonstrations?"

You don't recall the last Gay parade in Poland having the permission of the government? I suggest you reread your newspapers.

"Sacking teachers who teach tolerance?"

Please name or show specific examples of teachers that were 'sacked'.

beatroot said...

Renegade: I love the image of middle class gangs unleashed against minorities….What are they going to unleash – armani suits and their holidays in Tuscany?

Essing: I wasn’t saying that people are leaving Poland because of the racism – in fact I did not mention racism at all - you did. But for what ever reason they are leaving makes Poland poorer, particularly as these young kids are less ‘traditional’ Poles and the ones who embrace change.

No evidence of sacked teachers? Time to read your newspapers, Mr Essing. http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jun/06061405.html

You seem to enjoy exaggerating… Maybe if you read the post a little more carefully you will that it is, in fact, about the exaggerations of Mark Edelman, a man I have great respect for but someone who is getting old now and exaggerates the extent of this governments (undoubted) bigotry.

The post was about exaggerating, but I am not the one doing it.

steppx said...

Mr essing might --in an effort to get up to speed here.. also visit the web page of the ministry of education and read a letter by Jaroslaw Zielinksi......and decide if that sound progressive or tolerant. This is the direction polish education is headed !!

No, of course its a horrible and deeply reactionary and racist government. The EU I heard is about to censure the polish administration for hate speech.....though I dont know for sure about this. In any event, lots of other EU leaders have voiced conern, and well they might.

Fascism is a term defined many ways....and maybe (MAYBE) best avoided....but not to see just how hyper nationalistic (and that goes hand in hand with intolerance Mr essing...in case you need a heads up on this) this government is. Read remarks by Giertyk or Lepper --- some in beatroots archieves....or that buffoon who is president.

Dave Essing said...

Beatroot said:

"Essing: I wasn’t saying that people are leaving Poland because of the racism – in fact I did not mention racism at all - you did."

Excuse my term 'racist...I meant to say 'fascist'. However, making the comment you did within the context of a posting entitled, "Poland: A Fascist State?", doesn't mean younger people are leaving Poland because it is fascist. They have been leaving Poland since Kwasniewski's era.

"No evidence of sacked teachers? Time to read your newspapers, Mr Essing. http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jun/06061405.html"

One example doesn't encompass enough evidence against an entire government. Can you provide several more? If many were sacked, that's a different story.

Marek Edelman, though surviving the Warsaw Ghetto against all odds and deserves anyones sympathy and respect, is again, one opinion. His word isn't the authority or last word on what the Polish government consists of.

Read your last posting, *So no fascist state, but I’m afraid the coalition government has been giving more than just a wink to bigotry.* It is you who said "I'm", reflecting your personal thought.

You too often base paint demographic generalizations on one or few opinions, and that isn't objective discussion.

steppx said...

and sorry for the typos and tortured syntax above-- but its busy at school today.
Anyway, that letter is from march 9th, 2006. Its pretty worth reading I believe.

Brite said...

To answer the question whether Poland is racist or not take a look at the concert that took place in Lodz. Do you see any racism here?:
http://tiny.pl/td8t

Polish racism is just the stupidity of the uneducated and simple xenophobic folk. It has no ideoligical or religious background.

Beth Altman said...

Beautiful Brite! I'm glad to see some positive postings on anything contributing to Jewish-Polish relations. Beatroot, I must say, you are too negative in your views relating to this subject, and it doesn't enhance relations between Poles, gays, or Jews. Edelman is an important and respectable figure in our Jewish community, but still living in the past much too frequently. He unfairly defames Polish-Catholics when there isnt a reason to do so, more out of the pain he encountered during the 2nd war. His emotions often speak more than his thoughts. As for others, anyone describing 'Poland' and 'all Poles' as fascist, racist, xenophobic, etc, is probably all that themselves. It is the few individuals themselves that account for the miniscule incidents which do occur. Additional proof that Poland is more tolerant that most European countries today can be found here:

"A Polish-Jewish Renaissance"

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1150885852648&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

"At the 15th festival, some 13,000 people sang and danced to the music in what could best be described as a semi-kosher Woodstock. The Festival receives wide television coverage both in Poland and around the world."

I am living near Krakow and must say, in Israel, it is a shame that Jews of Polish background don't hold similar festivals to remember and preserve their Polish culture, just as several locations in Poland commemorate Jewish culture (mostly initiated by Polish-Gentiles). Poles have been admirably hosting beautiful Jewish events in this country, and yet, there are still certain individuals trying to ruin any possible reconciliation. I give Poles a standing ovation for their efforts, and all governments of Poland are truly trying their best. However, for the sake of 'blog traffic', some enjoy being provocative and tainting the truth at the same time. Welcome to the Krakow Jewish Festival in beautiful Poland!

Newspaper Reader said...

David Essing said:
"You cannot translate a few protestors [sic] actions into being 'Poland's Fascist or biggoted Government'." [reference to Poznan (?) march]
They were beaten off the streets of Poznan last year not by "some protestors" but by police after their march was (illegally) banned by the authorities. Minister Dorn described the violent and illegal suppression of the citizens' right to peacefully protest as "exemplary."

David Essing also said:
"Banning their demonstrations?"
Poznan 2005.

David Essing also said:
"One example [of a sacked teacher] doesn't encompass enough evidence against an entire government. Can you provide several more? If many were sacked, that's a different story."
How many people have to have their livelihoods taken away by a state which does not tolerate their dissent before it becomes a problem?

Michael Farris said...

"Poland's government is heading in the 'right' direction literally, and it's a good thing. Ok Michael?"

No, David, it's not. The coalition is almost entirely fixed on an unachievable goal of reviving a Poland that never existed and on settling scores. The president and leader and of the ruling party seem totally incapable of diplomacy or dealing with dissent or challenge of any kind (they didn't like the ideology of the communist state but they sure seem to like the management style).

Young people are a good indicator. Almost all the ones I come into contact with (at a major university here) are disgusted and embarrassed by this government (this a change from the apathy of the Kwasniewski years, but I don't think it's a good thing). Their plans upon graduation? To visit Poland now and then once they're established elsewhere.

The Polish government needs to engage young intelligent educated people and convince them to build a future in Poland and not alienate them by going on witch hunts, scatterbrained education schemes (see Giertych, R) and scatterbrained economic plans (see apartments, 3 million).

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
beatroot said...

Brite: racism is just the stupidity of the uneducated and simple xenophobic folk. It has no ideological or religious background.

Maybe you should check out ‘Hitler’s Pope’ by John Corwell. to see the connection of the catholic religion in general to racism. I would also check out the history of the Giertych family to see how there is both a religious and ideological background to this.

And there is a history too of intelligent, educated racists.

Beth Altman – love your music! – you say I am being too negative and then say the same thing as I said. Edelman is a hero of mine but he is living in the past. I said that in both post and comment.

I also said in the post that the Jewish minority in Poland are divided on this subject, and you are just proving that. Thank you.

David Irving – sorry, Essing  A post on a blog is not an article. There isn’t the space. If you want more evidence of the fact that there are bigots in this government then I invite you to read the rest of this blog.

And Mike Farris is right: this is about a vision of Poland based in the 1930s...in this case that means both the bigots in this government, and some of their critics.

posterboy said...

"When they came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat. When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist. When they came for the Jews, I did not speak out; I was not a Jew. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out."

The protests are necessary. When the government fails to comment on the limited, but extant, racism, homophobia, xenophobia and other assorted "intolerancja" in Poland, we should not simply allow them to claim (as some do), that it is a result of poor PR and a lousy media strategy. Have no doubt that much of the current government across the board hold deep seated (and, to those used to Western European liberalism, close-minded) conservative values. That includes even sensible politicians like Marcinkiewicz. But talk of a "fascist" state is overdone. Poland is travelling a road well-trodden in post-communist Europe - and some countries are changing their values quicker than others - Poland is held back by the inherent conservatism of the Catholic Church, which for all its positive work, is deeply culpable on the tolerance front.

I think there is hope for Poland - ironically from those who are currently fleeing in droves at. They will come back, and when they do, they will rapidly reshape social attitudes. In a decade, Poland will be nearer to Ireland's example than to Russia's.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
beatroot said...

I agree with almost all of what posterboy says. But are these people going to come back?

All the old demographic models go out the window here. As the EU opened up this created the first time that central, eastern Europeans can legally go to some parts of western Europe and work and live.

This is a new situation. We simply do not know how many will come back?

When the Irish move - as they have for virtually all their history - they stay where they are.

steppx said...

I sit here and scratch my head.....is ms Altman serious?
Poland as one of the most tolerant of European nations? Hardly....and there is ample evidence to support the case that its not.

My mother was Polish...her family from Krakow in fact...and I love much about living in Poland --- but Im not blind the very large problems here....and as posterboy says, the Catholic Church can be held accountable on a lot of levels. They exert enormous influence. But tolerant Poland is not. ALmost all black and asian students here comment to me on the abuse they absorb.....not one has found Poland welcoming...especially if inter-race dating takes place.

Ms Altman I fear lives in a fairy tale world...like Mr essing. It is not poland bashing to identify the problems....of the culture and to be certain of this government.

Again...read the letter (if you read polish...which could be a problem and an explanation) and then read beatroots archievs for direct quotes from the people running this country. They occasionally must pay lip service to EU standards on tolerance....but often they dont bother.

Lets also remember Poland is one of the few countries that views President Bush in a favorable light....and supports the occupation of Iraq. That should tell you something.

beatroot said...

Stepxx - I agree with lots of that, but the claim that Poland supports the war in Iraq is wrong.

Polish governments support Iraq but the average Pole does not. Some for liberal views, some for paleo-conservative views.

Michael Farris said...

As to people returning from the UK (and other places).

IME more often than not, when a person lives outside their birth culture for a signficant chunk of time (let's say five or so years on average) they find it harder to go back than to stay away. Everybody expects culture shock when they arrive in a new country, very few expect it when they return 'home' which makes it even worse.

There are a number of different kinds of Poles in west Europe now. Seasonal workers (going for a set period of time) will come back. Most of the rest will probably stay (unless Poland can offer them more than what they have where they are and chances of that are ... remote.

Michael Farris said...

"Lets also remember Poland is one of the few countries that views President Bush in a favorable light...."

Not the impression I've had, Bush I was very popular and after some initial misgivings Clinton won the Polish public over (mostly). But I've heard almost nothing positive about W from Polish people.

steppx said...

Last poll I read had over 50% of the "people" supporting and war and bush....now this was over a year ago as I recall -- and I dont trust polls all that much....BUT, compared to the rest of Europe the support factor in Poland was pretty high. But sure...its the government (past and present) who have supported the war....and there were pretty big demonstrations against the war, but all I read suggests a majority in favor of it. Thats not all that surprising.....and remember the US itself DOESNT support the war....at least not at this point...though its pretty close to split.
But if anyone has a poll suggesting that Poles are in the majority AGAINST the war, I'd love and be happy to see it.

beatroot said...

Poles generally support America - that goes back along way, centries - but not necessarily American governments. Poles have the popular view in Europe and among US Democracts that Bush is a thicko...which is not really a political criticism. Poles have the same anti-American prejudices as the rest of Europe.

Beth Altman said...

steppx said...

"I sit here and scratch my
head.....is ms Altman serious? Poland as one of the most tolerant of European
nations? Hardly....and there is ample evidence to support the case that its not."

You were given sufficient proof in two wonderful videos and now you will be
provided with more. What proof do you have, one letter? Please read the
following article entitled "Tolerant as Poles".
Here is one quote from it:

"According to the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia,
Poles are the most tolerant nation in Europe. Poland has one of the lowest index
regarding resistance to multicultural society and the lowest in case of
opposition to granting full citizenship rights to legal immigrants."


You might assume this is biased because it comes from PAIZ. Well, here is the
source of that conclusion directly from the report published by the European
Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC)
not long ago called "Attitudes
towards Migrants and Minorities in Europe".
"Please click, read, and enjoy.
Need more proof....just ask me, I live in Poland now and I'm a minority here.

"My mother was Polish...her family from Krakow in
fact...and I love much about living in Poland --- but Im not blind the very
large problems here....and as posterboy says, the Catholic Church can be held
accountable on a lot of levels."

The Catholic church in Poland is extremely tolerant and making excellent
strides with all minorities to immigrants to make them feel at home in Poland.
My parents also came from Poland, and stated that life was normal here.

"They exert enormous influence. But tolerant Poland is
not. ALmost all black and asian students here comment to me on the abuse they
absorb.....not one has found Poland welcoming...especially if inter-race dating
takes place."

Untrue. Again, Poland is tolerant. All blacks, asians, and Jews, including
myself have no difficulties here.

"Ms Altman I fear lives in a fairy tale world...like Mr
essing. It is not poland bashing to identify the problems....of the culture and
to be certain of this government."

Steppx, I live in reality, in Poland. You just wish to defame Poland for some
personal reasons. Identifying problems is constructive, but multiplying them out
of proportion isn't. So, conclusion, read the report...Poland is one of the most
tolerant countries in all of Europe. What country do you live in?

Beth Altman said...

Here is the link to the report by the
EUMC
.

beatroot said...

Poland has one of the lowest index regarding resistance to multicultural society and the lowest in case of opposition to granting full citizenship rights to legal immigrants."

On the first point there about 'resisting multiculturalism', I have no idea what that means in an almost monoethnic society like Poland. 'Polish multiculturalism' does not exist.. Warsaw is not London or even Paris. Can you explain to me multiculturalism In the Polish context?

Secondly, and related to that point, Poland has no problem in granting full citizenship rights to people because of the extremely low amount of people applying for those rights. Poland has now, and always has had, the same problem that Ireland used to have: a demographic deficit. It loses many more people that it gains every year. And that process has now picked up significantly since the EU opened up.

Your points are fantasy, Ms Altman.

Beth Altman said...

Beatroot,

As an individual belonging to a minority group living in Poland today, my personal experience has more credibility than your opinion on this subject will ever contain.

Is is your comments that are exaggerated and blown out of proportion more often than not, representing mostly fiction or your dreams. You tend to utilize independent studies as your supporting arguments (ex. "Happiness Index", etc.) to make a point, yet, you play down references made by others. I provided you with a valid study conducted by European
Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC)
in my last post entitled "Attitudes
towards Migrants and Minorities in Europe
". You never commented on it. The report answers the questions you have referred to me, and contains realistic an accurate points about tolerance in Poland.

Poland's homogeneous population was the result of WWII, and not Poles themselves. The Germans murdered 3,000,000 Jews, and the same number of Gentiles. The Yalta agreement shifted Poland's borders West, coupled with Stalin's deportations of Poles to the newly created territories. This created a country with a majority population of Polish Catholics, and not intolerance on behalf of the Poles.

Learn to be objective and read history Mr. Gentle.

beatroot said...

Poland's homogeneous population was the result of WWII, and not Poles themselves. Exactly. I never said any different.

So what is all this 'multicultural' bit then? You can't have multiculturalism in a monocultural society.

As far as Poles' Attitudes
towards Migrants and Minorities in Europe"
...for Poles it is all a hit theoretical as there amount of migration to Poland is the lowest in the EU

As an individual belonging to a minority group living in Poland today, my personal experience has more credibility than your opinion on this subject will ever contain.

You certainly don't seem to agree with Mark Edelman - a member of a minority that has been in Poland a little longer than you.

I did try and explain in the post that Jews disagree about how much racial prejudice there is in Poland - you are taking the Schundrich line...and good luck to you.

Dave Essing said...

Beatroot stressed:

"So no fascist state, but I’m afraid the coalition government has been giving more than just a wink to bigotry", duly noted with "I'm" and an italiczed "has".

First, Ms Altman, I personally cannot speak for the Jewish community in Poland, but I could provide a recent article from the reputable International Herald Tribune, dated June 29, 2006, by Richard Bernstein, a columnist of Jewish background supporting your argument that in the aggregate, there is not racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and homophobic intolerance in Poland.

In regard to homophobia, Beatroot seems to ignore "what is really a traditional Catholic view of homosexuality as sinful." Yes, the opposition to the gay movement in Poland is due mostly to the teachings of the bible and Catholicism, and not outright prejudice. Judaism and Moslem religions hold this view as well. So, the distinction between 'hatred' and 'what a religion considers to be sinful' is a large difference. Even in Israel, I can provide you with proof that Rabbis and the Jewish community at large have also protested the gay pride parade there recently, from 'Ynetnews', here and here. So, you have Poland, Russia, Israel, and many more countries where, due to religious beliefs, homosexuality is frowned upon. It's the teachings of the bible Beatroot, that's the bottom line.

Bernstein's conclusion's on this topic are highlighted in the following remarks in his article:

"It's the battle of the parliaments - the Polish one against the European one - and, in this instance, one's sympathies go with the Poles."

"So is there a "general rise in racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and homophobic intolerance in Poland" - with the stress on general? I don't think so."

"In this sense the problem with the European Parliament's declaration with regard to Poland is that it was a kind of politically correct boilerplate shedding little light on the real situation and leaving out the fundamental fact that, from any reasonable historical perspective on anti-Semitism or gay life, Poland is, with some fits and starts, going in a good direction"

Also in the article, Berstein mentions another editor (of Polish-Jewish background), most likely your neighbor and close acquaintance in Warsaw:

"From this point of view the European Parliament's statement seems, as one Polish journalist, Andrzej Jonas, editor of the Warsaw Voice, put it, "over-interpreted."

It's surprising to see that you and some of your liberal leftist P3 buddies hold a different view from Mr. Andrzej Jonas of the Warsaw Voice on this issue. Very interesting.

beatroot said...

David Essing: very well constructed argument.

But you seem think that the cause of homophobia lies with words written 1900, 1500 years ago in the Bible, Koran etc. But many things are written in those texts that seem barbarian today – even to most Catholics, Jews and many Muslims. Just have a quick read of Leviticus for a few laughs. And in the many Muslim countries I have been in there is a curious duality towards homosexuality. And Tel Aviv has one of the best club scenes for gays there is around these parts.

Poland is not full of people with quant old prejudices. What is significant today is that many that do are in the government. That’s democracy.

from any reasonable historical perspective on anti-Semitism or gay life, Poland is, with some fits and starts, going in a good direction"

That is simply not true. When I came here the first time ten years ago, the gay thing was not an issue…but there were gay clubs etc in all the major cities. Things were going in the right direction back then. They have taken a turn for the worse only recently.

As regards the EU: when Poland signed up to the EU they signed up to certain human rights commitments – the present government has broken those. If they don’t like that then they should campaign to get out of the EU (but they won’t because the farmers – and many other of their supporters) are starting to get used to the nice subsidies).

And then your intelligent argument starts to get silly, Mr Essing.

It's surprising to see that you and some of your liberal leftist P3 buddies hold a different view from Mr. Andrzej Jonas of the Warsaw Voice on this issue. Very interesting.

No it isn’t interesting – it is not very interesting , at all…it’s irrelevant...why is the opinion of the symbolic head (and that is all He is) of a paper that nobody reads significant to anyone but himself?

Essing: don’t be so daft. And the emphasis on ’very interesting’ is simply pathetic.

Dave Essing said...

Beatroot, you have my apologies for that last sarcastic remark of mine. It doesn't belong in such a constructive discussion, and you are right to point it out. So, I'm sorry for that.

You stated:

"Things were going in the right direction back then. They have taken a turn for the worse only recently.

You do know why, don't you? Let's take Kwasniewski for example. He, was an outspoken non-religious advocate even though he claims to be brought up as a Catholic (others sources say otherwise), and mostly didn't 'abide' by Catholic laws or the bible's teachings. He wasn't a church goer, and didn't mix religion with the state. The same goes for much of the SLD at that time. They (most of its members)simply didn't adhere to Catholicism. The current government of Kaczynski is much different. These are politicians that do follow their religion closely, and I personally think there is nothing wrong with that. If Poland wasn't over 90% Catholic, then I could see this to be a serious issue. But Poland is an honest exception and it's people (Catholics) form the clear majority. Outdated or not, some people are more faithful to their religion than others. Most Western European societies today have abandoned their Protestantism, Luthernism, and Catholicism. The Jewish community as well are slowly diluting themselves via a high rate of intermarriage. These are serious problems faced by most religions today. Poland, is a needle in the haystack in Europe. They are the standout black-sheep, along with Ukraine and Russia perhaps. It is really these few countries that still abide by what the bible preaches of Christianity, and gays should understand that to many Christians, Jews, and Muslims, homosexuality is just breaking their religious laws. Sure, there are many instances of personal hatred of the gay life, but those examples cannot be attributed to the entire population. Now an interesting question that we have raised in this discussion is, does the EU need to give religion and religious values a new rebirth in Europe, and is Poland to assist in achieving this objective, or, does the EU wish to obliterate Christianity and force Poland to liberalize and adjust it's character and tradition, to be just another country in Europe falling prey to an anti-religious stance? I personally am against abortion and homosexuality, not because I 'hate' pro-abortionists or gays, because my Catholic upbringing, according to the bible, forbids it. Now multiply this frame of thought by another approximately 38 million Poles, and you have their thinking. Another fair example is the Torah's forbidding of non-kosher food like pork, or mixing certain elements. Yes, it's old fashioned and outdated, but it's the law and people still follow it today.

In summary, before the EU's government issues such statements of 'intolerance, phobia, or anti-xyz', they must first examine the religious aspects of the populace they are dealing with. Poland's current politicians and country are mostly devout Catholics, and they bring Catholic their values into public life as well. So, attribute such feelings of many Poles due to their religious upbringing, and I hope more people not familiar with a commitment to religion to understand this.

beatroot said...

Apology accepted. I could also apologize for being a bit nappy, but In one sentence I was being lumped in with Warsaw Voice – nothing to do with me! – and the liberal left. I have more in common with the type of politics you find in the American Reason magazine than with the relativism, environmentalism and victim-feminism of the liberals.

Anyway, back to the fray…

If Poland wasn't over 90% Catholic, then I could see this to be a serious issue. True as a means of self-identification but on matters such as abortion etc Poles are split 50-50. Half the Polish population are what you could call ‘secular Catholics’.

Kwasniewski was a member of the ex-communist SLD – and it’s they who are the blame for the rise of intolerance in Poland. In 1968, when much of the world was going through the civil rights struggles, Polish communists were persecuting Jews! How progressive! And, since 1989, it’s the SLD’s failure to distance itself from the corruption and cronyism of the communist period that has left ‘social democratic’ Poles with little to vote for but authoritarian types, many of which you will find in the current government (particularly League of Polish Families and Lepper’s bunch of ex-Stalinists.

And apolitical Polish liberals, meanwhile, sit in ivory towers expecting unelected Eurocrats in Brussels to come rushing in on their white chargers to save them from these nasty authoritarian types.

Poles have to go through this process for themselves.

Yulia Shymenko said...

Beatroot said:

"In 1968, when much of the world was going through the civil rights struggles, Polish communists were persecuting Jews! How progressive!"

You must better comprehend the complexities of the events which took place in 1968 in Poland, and examine the origin of those so called 'persecutions'.

Subsequent to WWII when communists under the umbrella of Russian administration took control of Poland's entire governmental structure, a disproportionate percentage of communists appointed in Poland's most powerful positions in the government were of Jewish origin. This was the reality. The three most influential leaders at that time were Jakub Berman, Hilary Minc, and Boleslaw Bierut. According to a well researched and best selling non-fictional account published in the 1980's entitled "Them" by Teresa Toranska, Berman (a Polish communist politician of Jewish origin and as a member of the Polish United Workers' Party's Politbiuro he was in charge of the Urzad Bezpieczenstwa and considered Joseph Stalin's right hand in Poland between 1944 and 1953) and his henchmen (also mostly Poles of Jewish nationality) was a member of Politbiuro of Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP) responsible for Urzad Bezpieczenstwa (State Security Services), propaganda, and ideology. In this capacity he was directly responsible for Stalinist-type terror and repressions against real and imagined political opponents of the communist regime in Poland. Urzad Bezpieczenstwa prosecution of ex-Home Army members, Catholic Church clergy, and purges in the military, resulted in at least 6,000 deaths sentences, imprisonment and prosecuction of estimated 500,000 Catholic Poles who opposed communism.

There is more. According to the recent findings of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) from the November 2005 issue of its Bulletin, pages 37–42: ŻYDZI W KIEROWNICTWIE UB, STEREOTYP CZY RZECZYWISTOŚĆ? (Jews in the Management of the UB[apparatus of state security]: Stereotype or Reality?). This study indicates the complexity of getting to the bottom of this issue, but argues for basing Jewish status on familial ancestry. The findings are based on assessments of the nationality of the parents of 450 managers of the UB. The critical information is as follows (as translated from Polish to English:

"The content of the MSW Informator and personnel files of 450 persons occupying managerial positions in the Ministry of Public Security, complemented by data drawn from other sources. [Source: 40] As the results show, in the period of 1944–1954 of the 450 top managers of the Ministry of Public Security (from the head of division up), 167 were of Jewish origin (37.1%). After the MBP (Ministry of Public Security) was dissolved and its place was taken by Kds.BP (Committee for Public Security) in 1954, that number dropped to 86 managerial positions (34.5%). In that period (1944-1956), among the 107 managers and deputy managers of the voivodeship offices of state security, there were 22 of Jewish origin (20.5%). After having included other high positions in the voivodeship offices of the UB/UdsBP (the heads of department and the deputy managers of department), the most persons of Jewish origin were located in the security apparatus of the voivodeships of: Szczecin (18.7%), Wrocław (18.7%), Katowice (14.6%), Łódź (14.2%), Warszawa (13.6%), [Source: 41] Gdańsk (12%), and Lublin (10.1%). In the remaining voivodeships that figure was about 7%, reaching the lowest level in Zielona Góra Voivedeship (3.5%) [Source 42]."

Source 40: M.in.: IPN 0397/397, Notki biograficzne niektórych emigrantów do Izraela, MSW, Biuro
Paszportów i Dowodów Osobistych, 1970.

Source 41: Łącznie WUBP i UBP dla m.st. Warszawy.

Source 42: Dane z przygotowanej do druku książki Aparat bezpieczeństwa w Polsce. Kadra kierownicza,
t. I (1944–1956), red. K. Szwagrzyk.


These results reveal a highly disproportionate involvement of Jews in the apparatus of state security. The report indicates that after World War II, Jews constituted less than 1% of the population of Poland.

Abel Kainer (a pseudonym of Stanislaw Krajewski, a Polish Jew)stated, "The archetype of the Jew during the first ten years of the Polish People's Republic was generally perceived as an agent of the secret political police. It is true that under Bierut and Gomulka (prior to 1948) the key positions in the Ministry of State Security were held by Jews or persons of Jewish background. It is a fact which cannot be overlooked, little known in the West and seldom mentioned by the Jews of Poland. Both prefer to talk about Stalin's anti-Semitism ... The machinations of communist terror functioned in Poland in a manner similar to that used in other communist ruled countries in Europe. What requires explanation is why it was operated by Jews. The reason was that the political police, the base of communist rule, required personnel of unquestionable loyalty to communism. These were people who had joined the Party before the war and in Poland they were predominately Jewish.

This reality cannot be considered to be 'anti-semitic'. These are simply the facts. The expulsion of many prominent Poles of Jewish origin in 1968 resulted from two inter-political struggles taking place a the time. The first was from Moscow. Moscow, during the Arab-Israeli war of 1968 was allied with the Arabs, as opposed to the USA's supporting of Israel. When Israel won that war, it was also a defeat to Moscow's political view. Hence, Moscow then encouraged, not only in Poland but in other former East satellite countries as well, the expulsion of communists of Jewish origin. The second factor contributing to this in Poland specifically was that the Polish general population was in total favor of Polish Catholics ruling in the communist apparatus, and not a group which is in the minortity of the population. Considering the way the Berman's and many others executed and deported Catholic Poles during this time, the view that ethnic Poles should rule the country was justified. There is much more that can be said on this subject Beatroot, and it must be understood in historicallly accurate terms.

beatroot said...

The target of the 1968 demonstrations were Adam Michnik, jacek Kuron, etc. Most, but not all, of the POlish 68ers were secular Jews...

The Communist authorities - led by the nationalist 'Patriots' used their perceived Jewishness against them.

But the fact remians: the communist authorities were scared of these people becuase they were the ones who had the guts to stand up to them.

Jewishness had nothing to do with it.

Yulia Shymenko said...

Beatroot, you are way off track. Moscow did not trust Polish Catholics for high posts within the communist party after WWII due to their desire for an independent Poland 'without' communists. Moscow appointed many Poles and Russians of Jewish origin to the most crucial functions in the Polish government. This caused much friction in Poland between the minority ruling Polish-Jewish communists and the Catholic Poles. This situation 'partially' explains the events of 1968.

It seems either you are speechless or submit a lack of valid arguments for this topic Beatroot. You mentioned that "Jewishness has nothing to do with it". So, then why do you accuse the "Polish Communists", (the majority percentage wise being Poles of Jewish origin) of persecuting Jews if Jews have nothing to do with it? Jews had 'everything' to do with 1968. It boils down to a power struggle between the majority Polish Catholics and Polish Jews during that time period. Unfortunately, they (Polish Jewish) became power hungry and wanted even more.

The definition of Jewishness doesn't take into consideration whether you are secular or orthodox, or other. You should know this.

You obviously have a lot of research to do on this subject. Not only Michnik, Kuron were 'targeted'. There were criminals such as Jakub Berman, Hilary Minc, and countless others (just let me know if you wish me to provide more names) who persecuted Polish Catholics. The backlash of 1968 forced these antagonists to leave Poland.

Jan Gross is one of many individuals trying to 'profit' on the holocaust and is defaming Poland head on. His works have already been proven to be simplified progaganda, except to the eyes of certain elements withing the anti-Polish Catholic community.

ignacy said...

Kuron Jewish? Beat, you might want to check out your "facts." Go figure. ISTM this says a lot, heh?

The majority of Polish communists were Jews, Julia? Please, you must know this is simply not true. How many of how many party members were Jewish?


For some Lubavitcher Reggae, check out:

http://www.matismusic.com/

erik said...

some numbers about the demographic issue in poland :
- population (av) : 39,1 million
- voters over 18 (av): 29,8 million
- votes cast last election (av) :
18,5 million
- votes obtained by present govt coalition (av) : 9,8 million

this means that the present govt has obtained approx. 33 % of the citizens having voting rights.

this also means that approx. 10,3 million voters or 35 % of the potential voters have stayed home or just were not home.

the probable demographic reality
of poland today is that there are not the official 39,1 million inhabitants any more, but in reality ONLY ABOUT 29 MILLION REMAIN and over 10 million mostly young and educated people left and/or "voted with their feet".

therefore and as long as this situation remains, every next vote in poland will lead to another round of sclerotism.

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Anonymous said...

"particularly as these young kids are less ‘traditional’ Poles and the ones who embrace change."

I think you came up with this picture of Polish emmigrants just to back up your views and opinions, and this is far from truth that these people are mainly "less traditiona". Believe me, I've been in Ireland and UK and Polish community over there doesn't differ much from our society, with it's bad and good sides.

And as a comment for a whole post - I think you're exagerating. There has been much more attacks on Jews in western Europe than in Poland recently.

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