Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Poland’s Tents against anti-Semitism

Tents have been breaking out all over Warsaw recently. First the nurses and doctors got in white tents in their 'white city' (which, as you can see in the photo, was not strictly true, as it was multicoloured, really) opposite the Prime Minister’s Office last June and July, and stayed in them, for better wages.

They got 30 percent...but not this year.

After the Kaczmarek’s sacking we got red and white tents sprouting up in the same place – it was the League of Polish Families, jumping on a passing anti-Kaczynski bandwagon after losing their place in cabinet when the PM disbanded the coalition.

Now we have Tents Against anti-Semitism. The camping gear is again white and they (it is actually people against anti-Semitism, not their tents) want to promote understanding between communities and are against racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

The action is taking place in three cities – Kiev, Paris and Warsaw.

On the agenda? ‘Dialogue’ and ‘Whether there is anti-Semitism in Ukraine/France Poland.’ Jewish World:

In Warsaw, Poland, 23 year-old Beata Gladis, a student at Krakow University, described a busy morning for the Polish tent, pitched nearby a central synagogue.

"The most important discussion was about anti-Semitism in Poland. Many non-governmental organizations and police took part. We do not have anti-Semitism aimed against people here, but there is destruction of historic monuments and anti-Semitic graffiti here.

When ‘equality’ equals ‘all in solidarity we stand’

The Tents are part of the Council of Europe’s All different – All equal campaign, fighting racism, etc.

Last October, however, the Kaczynski government wanted to change the name of the campaign.

The problem lay in the word ‘equal’, because ‘equality’ is synonymous in their minds with the ‘Equality Parade’, the gay pride march in Warsaw, etc.

The government pointed out that the Czech Republic had it’s own slogan: “Respect each other’, so why can’t Poland.

The Polish government preferred the much, much catchier:

“All different – all in solidarity we stand”.

Doesn’t roll off the tongue as well – and I question the rhythm: try chanting ‘All different – all in solidarity we stand’ at a political rally…doesn’t go, does it?

‘The workers, united, will never be defeated’...has a certain rhythm to it. So does the old classic we used to chant, back in my chanting days:

“Black and white, unite and fight”

It even rhymes!

They don’t write them like that anymore.

As naive as those slogans were, back then, at least they said something essential: that we are essentially the same – we have more things in common than we do differences.

‘Solidarity we stand’ is good in the Kaczynski version: but they still leave in ‘All different’.

And the original version: All different - All equal’, emphasizes equality over solidarity.

So, me, I think we have to have a compromise slogan:

“All equal – all essentially the same”

I know, it doesn’t really have the necessary ‘chant value’, either - in fact the only way you can chant it is if you do it in a kind of Dave Brubeck 5/4 time – but it tells a deeper truth than emphasizing our differences.

But that’s the multicultural way, innit?


Anonymous said...

"The most important discussion was about anti-Semitism in Poland.

I wonder when we can expect a rational discussion of antipolonism in Israel.

In case you didn't know, in 2005 in Poland there were reported 172 crimes with racial background. At the same time, Sweden, the pinnacle of tolerance, had 2383 such crimes. Scotland 3853. Germany 15914. (Source, see page 123). In Germany, 1682 specifically antimesitic crimes have been commited (op.cit., p. 126), which is ten fold the number of all racial crimes in Poland. France - 508. Sweden - 111. UK - 455. (ibid.) Normalizing by population we get (antisemitic crimes per milion population):

Germany - 20.4
France - 7.9
Sweden - 12.1
UK - 7.5

Even assuming that all racial crime in Poland was antisemitic (a seriously questionable assumption), for Poland we get the antisemitic crime rate of - wait for it - 4.4! Half of the rate for the UK and France. A quarter of that in Sweden. FIVE TIMES lower than that of Germany.

To make matters even more interesting, Poland is about the only country in EU that has an explicitely pro-Israel foreign policy, while other coutries are ostensibly pro-Arabiac and pro-Palestinian (France and Germany being the best examples).

Yet, everyone is still beating the dead horse of Polish antisemitism.

beatroot said...

The All Different � All Equal campaign covers lot of different issue involving racism in its various forms. They picked three countries, this time, for the anti-Semitism tents � Ukraine, France and Poland. Now, as you say, quantitatively it is strange to link these countries. The French example is because of a mixture of Islamism and what is left of the National Front.

I can only conclude that it was the inclusion of parties such as League of Polish Families in government and the cooperation of the government with little shits like Rydzyk that has influenced the vie of Poland negatively abroad.

Anonymous said...

Ompamp is correct. This ranting and raving of anti-semitism is over exaggerated and overblown, and Poland is certainly being misreperesented by holding such a protest in Warsaw. Too many individuals today abuse the term and don't understand it. It is a cheap defense mechansim aimed against any minute criticsm of Israel, the Jewish people, or religion, to shut them up at once. Even prominent Jews who speak up against Israeli policies, or other Jewish matters not so pretty, are immediately stigmatimzed as outcasts and self-hating Jews. The main problem is defining what exactly consists of anti-semitism, or more appropriately, anti-Jewish comments and matters.

It is plain wrong to hold such a protest, forum, or whatever you wish to call it in Poland. Just imagine, holding such a protest in Tel-Aviv called "Society againt Ant-Catholicism". It would be interesting to note the reaction of Jews worldwide. I certainly wouldn't appreciate seeing that in Israel.

Beatroot, you are wrong. You cannot use Rydzyk or Gietrych, or other isolated and trivial events as an excuse for holding such a forum or protest in Poland. I believe it would be more appropriate to hold the event and erect tents in Warsaw and pay a homage to commemorating Poland's tolerance to Jews throughout her 1,000 year history, remembering items such as the "Kalisz Deeds", the special protection of Jews throughout the centuries, and flourishing Jewish culture, newspapaers, Yeshivas, Chassidicmovements, etc that all took place on Polish lands, and not only focus exclusively on the years 1939 - to 1945 where mostly Nazi Germans executed Jews, and trival comments made by several individuals in contemporary Poland.

Ompamp correctly stated the facts, and I think that such a protest would find itself more at home in either UK, Germany, Sweden, or somewhere else in the West. His (her) statistics are very accurate.

It certainly is 'beating a dead horse' and creating a false impression. Adam Michnik or Bronislaw Geremek should speak out on this matter. I would like to see what they have to say about it.


Anonymous said...

Sure, Poland gets too hard a time over anti-Semitism but Rydzyk and Giertych are not isolated and trivial cases. Giertych was a government minister and Rydzyk is well-established and widely admired.

beakerkin said...

Anti Polonism???

Poland has a historic duty to maintain certain sites as part of its own cultural legacy and that of Jewish history such as Auschwitz and the Warsaw Ghetto memorial. News of Jewish anti Polonism is news to me as I do not see it.

Telling a religious order to kindly respect the integrity of what is the worlds largest Jewish Cemetary is reasonable and not anti
Polish. The clumsy manner and repeated bumbling on the issue is a story onto itself and does not say anything about Poland.

The critics are correct that Anti-semitism is frothing in Sweden, France and the UK and is not as serious an issue in Poland.

I add that anti-semitism is central to the far left. Beatroot is not an anti-semite but he certainly knows plenty of them. The talk of Jewish conspiracies to control America on familiar blogs is odious. Allowing that type of material on your blog unchallenged ( not you) certainly would permit one to deduce the blog owner is an anti-semite or a nut or both.

Anonymous said...

You cannot use Rydzyk or Gietrych, or other isolated and trivial events as an excuse for holding such a forum or protest in Poland.

Sorry but I don't think the relationship between Rydzyk, Giertych, et. al. and the PiS government is "isolated and trivial." It's quite a big thing and seems to be the modus operandi of the K-gubmint.

Was the tent city organized as a protest or just as a means of "consciousness raising" as it used to be called back in the day?

And while I realize and agree that the problem of anti-Jewish violence is bigger in other countries, I always found it disturbing to see anti-Jewish grafitti all over the place in Poland. Granted, most (but not all) of it was related to soccer nonsense. (Opamp: Why is Cracovia so widely considered the "Zyd" team in Krakow? I never saw similar grafitti directed against Wisla-Krakow.) But I found it all profoundly unsettling and particularly odious whether the crap was on a bank or near a soccer stadium, at the train station or even on the streetway leading up to Skalka in Krakow. A little paint and/or sandblasting would go a long way in improving that problem. Yet, most of the grafitti seemed time-honored.

So, I can't get bent out of shape about a tent city that will lead to discussion of the issues involved.

All that said, the Polish gubmint's blanket, unquestioned support of Israeli militarism needs to be discussed, too. Somehow, though, I don't think a tent city to "raise consciousness" about the plight of the Palestinians would be considered "equal" by the folks organizing this particular tent city.

Anonymous said...

Why is Cracovia so widely considered the "Zyd" team in Krakow?

Because before the war it was a Jewish team, and the name stuck. (Okay, not Jewish per se, but the one Jews played in).

I never saw similar grafitti directed against Wisla-Krakow.

Wisła are called "Psy" (lit. dogs, also a derogative term for cops), because it was a police club.

Anonymous said...

Nice numbers opamp but you forget one tiny little detail: Poland has virtually visible no ethnic minorities for people to attack.

Let’s have a look at your numbers. You say that Poland has a quarter of the racial crime of Sweden. It doesn’t and your own numbers show that. 4.4 is a lot more than a quarter. It is more than a third.

But never mind. The question is: how many foreigners are there to commit crime against in Sweden. The answer is quite a lot. As of December 2004 there were 1,199,300 foreign born people living in Sweden, 12.5% of the population. Of those people we need to pick out the ones who are visibly not ethnic Swedish because a Finnish-born person can easily pass for an ethnic Swede. 223,700 of the people are from the middle east, 91,700 from the rest of Asia, 51,000 from sub-Saharan Africa, 35,000 from Turkey, 55,500 from South America and 3,500 from Oceania. Total 459,900. Of course some of those people can pass for ethnic Swedes so let’s assume that 90% of those people are visibly not ethnic Swedish. That gives a figure of 413,910 people who are visibly not Swedish. And then we need to make a make an allowance for Swedish-born people who are children of non-whites. Another 4.7% of the population of Sweden have one parent born outside Sweden, that’s 423,000 people. We’ve seen that about a third of non-Swedish-born people in Sweden are not white so let’s use that same proportion, i.e. there are 140,999 of them. So we have a total population of 554,909 people in Sweden who are visibly not ethnically Swedish (i.e. not white). Using the figure of 2,383 total racist crimes in Sweden we see that there is one racist crime in Sweden for every 232 non-white people in Sweden.

Now I wonder how Poland compares to that figure. Let’s have a look at the results of the 2002 Polish census. Hmm, 4,500 ‘Other (including Africans)’, 1,808 Vietnamese, 500 Tatars, 12,900 Roma, 1,082 Armenians: total non-white population 20,390. Using the figure of 172 total racist crimes in Poland we see that there is one racist crime in Poland for every 118 non-white people in Poland.

So, a non-white person is very nearly twice as likely to be a victim of racist crime in Poland than in Sweden. I wonder why people might think that Poland has a problem with racist crime?

Now let’s look at anti-Semitism. Unfortunately Poland does not record such crimes. But we know that in Germany 10.5% of all racist crime is anti-Semitic and that in Sweden 4.6% is, let’s put the Polish figure midway between those numbers: 7.5%. If there were 172 total racist crimes in Poland there would have been 13 anti-Semitic crimes (which seems just a tiny touch low seeing as I personally know two people who were beaten up last year for being Jews and seeing as the Warsaw police rate the risk of crime directed at Warsaw synagogue that they keep a patrol outside it 24-hours a day, seven days a week). We know from the 2002 census that there are 1,100 Jews in Poland, so that would give a total of one anti-Semitic crime for every 76 Polish Jews. In Sweden there are 18,000 Jews and 111 anti-Semitic crimes so that would give a total of one anti-Semitic crime for every 162 Swedish Jews.

So, a Jew is very nearly twice as likely to be a victim of anti-Semitic crime in Poland than in Sweden. I wonder why people might think that Poland has a problem with anti-Semitic crime?

Well done with your effort to ignore Poland’s appalling problem with racism and anti-Semitism, opamp. Pity your own facts prove you wrong.

beatroot said...

Good stuff, Harry.

We must also point out that the Council of Europe thinks it is very important to come to Poland and talk about anti-Semitism...even though there are very few Jews who live here!

Geez: Totenham Hotspurs (London) get called 'Yids' chanted at them - especially by Arsenal fans - even though they are not a Jewish club- they just happen to be in a part of north London where there are a few thousand Jews resident. It goes back to 1930s.

But I don;t think we can take what football 'fans' chant as being 'political'. They sling any insult to hand at each other - like Zyd or psy - knowking full well that the people they are shouting at are neither Jews nor police. It is just one of the curious parts of the culture of the fottie fan.

Anonymous said...

Thanks BR, although I have spotted an obvious mistake in my work. I should have said that a Jew is more than twice as likely to be a victim of anti-Semitic crime in Poland than in Sweden. Apologies for the confusion I caused by making Poland out to be less anti-Semitic than it actually is.

Anonymous said...

Oh, bollocks! I've just noticed that I forgot about the Romani and Travellers in Sweden. The Swedish government estimate that there are 40,000 to 50,000 Romani in Sweden, so let's say 45,000 and add them to the 554,909 I've already included. That gives us 599,909 people in Sweden who are visibly not ethnically Swedish. So we actually have one racist crime in Sweden for every 252 non-white people in Sweden. Which means that a non-white person is more than twice as likely to be a victim of racist crime in Poland than in Sweden. Apologies for the confusion I caused by making Poland out to be comparatively less racist than it actually is.

Anonymous said...

Just reading about Tottenham and other such stuff in a book How Soccer Explains the World: An (Unlikely) Theory of Globalization. Seems the Tottenham fans have even adopted "Judaism" as a motif of pride, thus their victory chant of "Yiddo, Yiddo!". And their hooligans being the self-professed "Yid Army" wearing "Yid4Ever" t-shirts. And in response to Chelsea taunts about moyls and whatnot, Tot supporters who haven't undergone the knife have been known to wave in unison their members in proud defiance from the stands at matches. Or maybe just once having made and apparently winning their point.

Seems, too, Amsterdam Ajax has done up the Jewish bit as well.

Somehow, though, I don't see any of that happening with Cracovia.

Weirder still, one of the biggest Chelsea anti-Semitic Hooligans of all time -- with a nom de guerre of Alan Garison -- just happens to be a half Jewish himself (the other half being German Nazi SS officer). Go figure,

So there is a weird politics to it all that may well be inexplicable.

That said, I'm looking forward to a Opamp's response to Harry.

Anonymous said...

I think that opamps will reply will either be the traditional bigotry dressed up as patriotism us foreigners have come to expect from a Pole faced with uncomfortable truths about his nation or (more probably) a resounding silence.

Anonymous said...

harry said...” from the 2002 census that there are 1,100 Jews in Poland”

This number of 1,100 represents only the number of people who chose to give a response to the census people. Most sources state the Jewish population of Poland is approximately 6000 to 16000.

One source that would have good idea of the actual numbers is Rabbi Michael Schudrich From an interview with Rabbi Michael Schudrich “at least 20,000 Jews live in Poland today” August 7, 2006

I tend to believe Poland’s Chief Rabbi rather then your numbers of convenience. Your antipolonism reflects your status as a mental midget.

So Harry is your argument out by a factor of 1,818.18 percent?

beatroot said...

I think your 'midget-ism' is deplorable...

Anonymous said...

Hi Jan,

Thanks for the traditional bigotry dressed up as patriotism.

Has Michael Schudrich counted the number of Jews in Poland? Has anybody? Er, yes, the people who did the 2002 census did. They are the only people who did so.

Although if you want to talk about numbers being wrong, how about we talk about the number of anti-semitic and racist crimes in Poland? I personally know the victims of two anti-semitic crimes last year and it is beyond belief that I should personally know 20% of all victims anti-semitic crimes last year. It's fairly unbelievable that I should know of more than 1% of all victims of anti-semitic crimes last year. Which would suggest that anti-semitic crimes last year were about 20 times higher than the figure we're discussing.

Nice to see that you have no comment at all on the facts where there are hard confirmed figures, i.e. Poland is twice as dangerous a place for non-whites as Sweden. Although in all fairness, you most probably like Poland being a dangerous place for non-whites because that helps keep Poland lilywhite and you don't like seeing anybody in Poland whose skin is not lilywhite.

Anonymous said...

harry said... “Thanks for the traditional bigotry dressed up as patriotism”

Hi harry,

Just wanted to say you’re very welcome.

Your less than convincing defence of your bullshit numbers reminds me of the awkward moment a child faces when caught with their hand in the cookie jar. When it comes to statistical analysis you seem to have the prowess of a three year old.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me there's an awful lot of wiggle room in the numbers being advanced here by both "sides."

For what it's worth, my guess is that the census accounting for the number of Jews is way too low. On the other hand, the good rabbi's numbers are prolly grossly inflated.

In any event, I think we can all agree that there are very few Jews in Poland in relative and cumulative number. So there's all kind of factors that enter into play in trying to determine the quality and extent of Polish anti-Semitism and racism. And given the relative numerical paucity of whatever minority in Poland, the extent of the criminal acts we're trying to enumerate still ain't going to be as numerically large as in France, Germany or even England.

Then, playing with the relative proportions vis-a-vis countries...
Well, how societally widespread is the animus in each country? Do most of the incidents take place in particular locales more so than others? Perpetrated by this or that economic class of individuals? Ages of those involved? Are the perpetrators church-goers? Atheists? Agnostics? Dimwits with none too sophisticated any kind of ideological or religious bent? What exactly is the nature of the crime? Grafitti? Beatings? Name Calling? Desecration of buildings? Soccer chants and songs and banners?

This all gets very complicated.

That said, I don't think I'd feel too safe or secure in many places in Poland at certain hours if I had shylocks or my skin was dark or if I looked particulary gay.

Much the same way I'd feel being white if I got off the wrong subway stop in Bedford-Sty in NYC.

I dunno.

YouNotSneaky! said...

Just for the moment, taking both opamp's numbers on crimes per Pole and Harry's on crimes per victim at face value would suggest that:
1. Fewer people in Poland commit anti-semitic/racist crimes than say Sweden (which accounts for opamp's #s)
2. But those engaged in those acts tend to commit more crimes per person (which accounts for Harry's #s).

Again, lemme stress the "taking them #s at face value" part since to be perfectly honest I have no idea how accurate they are. And neither do you, really. I mean not really enough to start casting insults about and start talking about "the traditional bigotry dressed up as patriotism us foreigners have come to expect from a Pole faced with uncomfortable truths about his nation". Janowak just merely disagreed with the accuracy of your numbers. He didn't insults your mama or nothing. Perhaps what you mistake for "traditional bigotry" towards "you" foreigners is just the normal annoyance of normal persons when faced with a big mouthed self righteous asshole.

YouNotSneaky! said...

Ooops, I misread opamp's original comment. Scratch my statistical analysis up there. Still both sets of numbers could be true.

Anonymous said...


The crime incidence metric is not perfect, but it is a reasonable metric for measuring the racism level in a society. It essentially tells you with what probability a random person from a given population would commit a racial crime.

You claim that low racial crime incidence in Poland is caused by the lack of minorities. This is, to an extent, correct. However, it not said that the incidence rate would always increase LINEARLY with the size of the minority population.

Consider a hypothetical town with a minority population and a neonazi gang. The gang's size determines how often the gang can commit crimes against the minority. The gang membership is tied to the size of the majority population, which the gang members recruit from; assume that this is a fixed percentage.

Now, assume there was a sudden tenfold increase in the minority population. Would the gang activity increase 10 times as well? No! It would remain at the same level, because its membership would not change: it is a fixed percentage of a majority population, which did not increase at all.

(In real life such a demographic change would probably attract some new members to the gang; still it is very unlikely for it to grow at the same rate as the minority population, so the point still stands.)

For a minority member however, the situation changes dramatically. The gang still carries out its attacks at the same rate, but the number of possible victims has increased ten times. So, a probability of being attacked by the gang is now ten times lower!

The example shows why crime incidence is a good metric for a racial prejudice level in a society, while the probability of being a victim of a racial crime is not.

Nice try, though.

Anonymous said...

I'm Jewish, living in Warsaw Poland, and feel completely safe here. I recently had a long conversation (or disagreement) with some of the 'tent' representatives about anti-semitism in Poland and expressed my annoyance at why they are even organizing this protest-forum in Poland at all.

I'll tell you what I consider to be serious anti-semitism. Graffiti doesn't bother me because I see it all over Catholic oriented propety as well. Catholic cemetaries also get vandlized, more frequently than Jewish ones. What would you call that...anti-Catholicism in Poland by Poles? That's out of the question. Irrational chants at Polish football games also doesn't make my list on serious anti-semitism. That's out. Let's go further. I was a very disappointed to read when recently a 42 year old Rabbi was stabbed in Frankfurt, Germany. Compare this with Rabbi Schudrich being attacked and sprayed, but not stabbed. It was obvious that the media didn't give as much attention to the Rabbi in Germany being stabbed when compared to the news headlines describing Rabbi Schudrich's encounter. I view this as selective reporting and insensitive anti-Polonism by the press. Ok, more. When my parents were growing up in pre WWII Germany, true anti-semites boycotted Jewish stores, goods, and services. Well, in Poland, we have Gazeta Wyborcza owned and founded by three influential Polish Jews, and the anti-Catholic rag NIE run by the despised former communist Jerzy Urban, who is also Jewish. However, I don't see any Catholic Poles boycotting either newpaper. In fact, Catholic Poles faithfully patronize both. So, no anti-semitism here as well. I'll say this much: I've encountered more anti-semitism in the USA than anywhere in Europe. In an open appeal to the media and the tent organizers in Warsaw, leave Poland out of the anti-semitism card.

By the way, Rabbi Schudrich recently stated:

"My estimate is that there are at least twenty thousand Jews in Poland. There are two leading organizations. The Union of Jewish Communities is the umbrella body of eight Jewish communities. Warsaw with five hundred members is the largest followed by Wroclaw, Lodz, and Krakow. The others are Katowice, Szczeczin, Legnica, and Bielsko Biala. Together these have about two thousand members. Fifty adult members is the minimum required by the union for a registered community. The smaller ones like Gdansk, Poznan, and Lublin are affiliate branches. Jews who live where there is no community can become members of the nearest one."

Other leading Jewish figures put the number between 20,000 - 50,000 Jews in Poland, most who do not express interest in their faith. There is also a very sizeable Ukrainian (over 1,000,0000), Belorussian (over 150,000), and German (over 800,000) minority living in Poland today.


beatroot said...

Thanks Aaron.

And I do know many people of Jewish background who think like you. I also know a few that don�t.

As far as racist attacks go generally. Reports out this year show increases in many countries. An EU report this year says:

In eight of the 11 countries that furnished data on racist attacks and racist crime showed an increase in the number of offences committed between 2000 and 2005 or 2006, the agency reported.
These increases were recorded in Britain, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Poland and Slovakia�

I will have a full look at the report tonight to see all the details

Top debate everyone. But let's stop the slightly personal remarks, which in some cases come close to trolling...we are not teenagers.

Anonymous said...

It may interest you to know that the Catholic University of Lublin does not hold copies of Nie. Whether this is because of editor Urban's communist past, Jewish origins or the ads for sex toys carried in the magazine, it is a disgrace for a fully fledged, state funded university not to subscribe to an important (often poached, seldom acknowledged) source of current affairs news.

michael farris said...

I tend to think of Judaism as a religion and classify people as 'jewish' or not on the basis of their religious belief/observance. I don't care how many of your ancestors were Jewish, if you don't believe and practice the religion, you're no more jewish than I am.

It always amazes me when I realize what a minority opinion this is...

It's worth mentioning in passing that traditional Jewish culture in Poland is an object of great interest to many young Polish people (regardless of ancestory).

Also IME 'anti-semitism' is usually defined by Polish people somewhat differently (being restricted to actual physical violence) than in English (where it includes general attitudes and casual stupid remarks).

Anonymous said...

Where to start?

Aaron: Jerzy Urban is not Jewish, he is an atheist. And Poles boycotting Jewish-owned stores would be somewhat difficult, I can only think of one Jewish owned store in Poland and that’s in the same building as the local synagogue. Of course Galeria Mokotow is Jewish-owned but not a lot of people know that. It really is hard to be actively against something which very nearly does not exist. By the way, and this is actually a genuine question, do the synagogues in Germany have 24-hour a day police patrols stationed outside them like my local one in Warsaw does?

Omamp: Congratulations on completely avoiding the fact that a non-white person is twice as likely to be the victim of racist crime in Poland than in Sweden. The most important people when one is talking about crime are the victims. But of course they are just unter-menschen so let’s not worry about them, eh?
Your claim that Poland has no problem with racial prejudice because there are so few crimes per million Poles is the same as claiming that Poland has no problem with car crime and giving as your proof the number of car crimes per million Poles and contrasting it with the number of car crimes per million USAian or Brits. Of course both the UK and USA will have more car crimes per million people, they have more cars!
What next? Perhaps you’d like to praise the Polish rice-growing industry because there are zero paddy field accidents per million Poles? Why don’t you state that the Polish police are doing superbly in their fight against drugs because zero cocaine factories per million Poles exist?
Better yet, I’ll use your own methodology to prove that Poles hate Poles more than Brits hate Poles. A couple of Poles every week are getting a good kicking for being Polish over there and people are getting worried about the levels of racism in the UK. But the number of attacks on Poles in the UK per million people in the UK is far far lower than the number of attacks on Poles which take place in Poland per million people in Poland. This very clearly shows that the UK is a much safer place for Poles than Poland is and so shows that the UK is a far better live than Poland.

Jan: Which numbers are bullshit? The ones which show that a non-white is twice as likely to be the victim of racist crime in Poland? Why don’t you move to the UK? With a bit of luck you can be on the receiving end of some racist crime. I can even set up a job for you: selling painting of the Pope along Shankill Road.

Younotsneaky: Perhaps you’d like to come here and experience racism on a daily basis while enjoying Poles saying that there is no racism in this country?

Michael: Good point. In Germany saying in public “The Jews will come to you and say give me your coat! Take off your trousers! Those are my shoes!” would be a crime. As it would in the UK. In Poland however it is behaviour fit and proper for a man who owns a broadcasting license and qualifies for EU aid. And I wonder why people say Poland has a problem with anti-Semitism.

beatroot said...

Yeah, people here tend to confuse religion with background and or ethnicity. hence 'Poland is 95 percent catholic'....

Jewishness is sometimes used here, by the usual suspects, to mean 'not really POlish'.

Whether non practicing Jews regard themselves as (ethnically) Jewish is another matter.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Michael, Harry, and Beatroot:

Jewish law, according to the Torah, clearly states:

"A Jew is any person whose mother was a Jew or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion in full compliance with Jewish law.

It is important to note that being a Jew has nothing to do with what you believe or what you do. A person born to non-Jewish parents who believes everything that Orthodox Jews believe and observes every law and custom of the Jews is still a non-Jew, even in the eyes of the most liberal movements of Judaism, and a person born to a Jewish mother who is an atheist and never practices the Jewish religion is still a Jew, even in the eyes of the ultra-Orthodox. In this sense, being a Jew is more like a nationality than like other religions; it is like a citizenship."

One cannot debate this fact. It is Jewish law. Please ask any Rabbi.


Anonymous said...

Harry said:

Jerzy Urban is not Jewish, he is an atheist. And Poles boycotting Jewish-owned stores would be somewhat difficult, I can only think of one Jewish owned store in Poland and that’s in the same building as the local synagogue. Of course Galeria Mokotow is Jewish-owned but not a lot of people know that. It really is hard to be actively against something which very nearly does not exist. By the way, and this is actually a genuine question, do the synagogues in Germany have 24-hour a day police patrols stationed outside them like my local one in Warsaw does?

Harry, wrong. According to Jewish law (who is a Jew), Urban is definitely Jewish.

As far as boycotting, I did mention 'services' as well, such as the media (et. Gazeta Wyborcza, Nie, The Warsaw Voice), all Jewish owned. Poles have not been seen boycotting anything. They happily read and purchase without regard to who owns what.

Yes, the 'New Sygnagogue' in Berlin, Germany has 24 hour security. Would you like me to mention more?


michael farris said...

Aaron, There's a kind of Catch 22 here. Since I'm not Jewish, I don't especially recognize the ability of Rabbis to determine other peoples' Jewish status (except to the extent that said people agree to accept the Rabbis' judgement).

I simply don't think of Urban (atheist) or Michnik (catholic IINM) as being jewish no Rabbi can convince me otherwise (short of the gentlemen in question practicing the Jewish faith).

Anonymous said...

^ Aaron, many buildings in Warsaw have 24 hour security (the one I work in is just a single example). However, apart from government (either Polish of foreign) buildings, the synagogue is the only building I can think of which has permanent police protection.

Does the New Synagogue in Berlin have police stationed outside 24 hours a day?

Anonymous said...

Aaron, let me ask you this: Would you feel safe walking on a non-busy street late at night in Warsaw if you were dressed in rabbinical or Orthodox garb?

Being American, I have heard more anti-Semitic remarks than I want to here and in Poland.

But I don't see widespread anti-Jewish grafitti here (although I have read about it's appearance here and there).

Being of Polish background with relatives in Poland, and knowing how many Jews died in Poland at the hands of the Nazis, and yes some Poles, it has always been particularly shocking, galling and embarrassing for me to see so much anti-Jewish grafitti in Poland -- although for sure most of it was soccer-nonsense related. Still, in Poland with all the ghosts of WWII, not only Jewish, it seems so sick -- and epidemically so -- to me.

And from my experience, people commonly making snide references about Jews is much more commonplace in Poland than it is in the US.

In Poland, beyond the grafitti, I have seen drunks pissing on synagogues, teenagers --prolly hooligans of sorts-- repeatedly kicking a soccer ball full blast against the old synagogue in Kazimierz in Krakow with a policeman watching and doing nothing until I confronted him, demonstrators carrying banners belligerantly blaming Jews for Katyn within the walls of the Wawel complex (it was nice to see the police stop that one without me having to make a stink about it), and more. And jeez, how much effort and cost would it involve to paint over or sandblast the most offensive stuff?

And I take very small comfort in the Warsaw rabbi not being stabbed, actually none at all.

And whether or not there is an organized boycott, the hatred for the likes of Michnik is very intense and widespread -- and as most of us know he is not religiously a Jew. Then again, his paper still has the highest circulation doesn't it? Obviously, there is a great divide in Polish society.

So Aaron, I'm not disputing your experience but it seems very different than mine.

That said, I think the number of Poles who take criminal violent actions against Jews are very few and far in between. I thought Paula Fredrikson ridiculous when she was hysterically whining about how there would be pogroms in Poland when Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ was to shown there (a film I think is indeed anti-Jewish).

And finally, I suppose there are many Jews who consider me anti-Semitic because I am often critical of Israeli government policies and favor a two state solution vis-a-vis Palestine and Israel.

michael farris said...

"Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ was to shown there (a film I think is indeed anti-Jewish)."


Anonymous said...

Michael, it is not only the Rabbi who determines who is Jewish. This is Jewish law, from the Torah. Again, according to Jewish law, regardless of whether an individual explicitly states he/she is non-practicing or an atheist, they are indeed Jewish if the previously stated criteria are met. You may think what you wish, but you certainly cannot determine who Jewish and who isn't, expecially being a non-Jew as you are.

Harry, yes, police are stationed 24 hours a day at the New Synagogue in Berlin.

Geez, being an American as well, I never heard more anti-Jewish bigotry coming from people's mouths than while I lived in the USA. I've seen offending graffiti on synagogues, people making rude remarks about Jews in all circles of life, Jews being beaten up or abused in my university, and much more. Within Europe, Poland tops the list of tolerance, especially when compared to Western Europe. I haven't heard or experienced any of what you have seen here in Poland, and I've been in this country quite long. Indeed, our expriences are different. I'm an active participant in rebuilding the Jewish community in Poland, particularly in Warsaw. The results are positive so far.


Anonymous said...


I would like to add, not only does the 'New Synagogue' in Berlin, Germany have 24 hour police keeping guard, but armed policemen also stand on 24-hour guard outside all of Berlin's synagogues. There are constant patrols at the Jewish Museum, and the capital's new Holocaust memorial. At the 19th-century synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse, visitors must pass through airport-style checks while four security guards watch a wall of screens showing grainy CCTV footage from around the building.

This hold true for many more cities in Germany, and other countries in Western Europe.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on completely avoiding the fact that a non-white person is twice as likely to be the victim of racist crime in Poland than in Sweden.

Congratulations on misssing my point entirely. I have demonstrated that your statistics is completely irrelevant when comparing prejudice level in a society. The chances of being attacked depend both on prejudice levels and minority population size (larger population decreases the particular member's chances of being attacked -- oh look, this is exactly the result you've got!), while the hate crime rate depends only on the prejudice level. Therefore the crime rate is a proxy for prejudice level, while the chances of being attacked are not. Your statistics are of no use here. QED.

But the number of attacks on Poles in the UK per million people in the UK is far far lower than the number of attacks on Poles which take place in Poland per million people in Poland.

Yeah, lump the racial crime rate with the general one, nobody is going to find out...

the UK is a far better live than Poland.

Of course. That's why people move from Poland to UK, not the other way round.

In Germany saying in public “The Jews will come to you and say give me your coat! Take off your trousers! Those are my shoes!” would be a crime.

So, in Germany you cannot discuss monetary claims of foreign organizations against the government? Cool.

Anonymous said...

Aaron: Mihu Yehudi? You'd count Urban as being part of a minyan, would you? Was he raised as a Jew? If we're going to go right down the matrilineal descent path, there are going to be a hell of a lot more than 20,000 Jews in Poland! Can we all get Israeli passports?

You might have been in the country for a long time but how far have you looked? I didn't realise just how anti-Semitic this place can be until a good friend of mine told me that I'd best keep quiet about having Jewish blood or her grandmother wouldn't let me stay in their house.

Anonymous said...


Just wondering, how's your Polish?

Also, honestly, living in the Northeast, I've heard more Jews attack other Jews as "self-hating Jews" with varied strings of additional epithets than I have heard non-Jews make negative remarks about Jews.

Curious... what American university did you attend where Jews were beaten and abused? And by whom were they beaten? Were the perpetators caught and tried? What happened to them?

I'm glad, though, that you are having such a positive experience in Poland. I really do hope it continues.

Anonymous said...

For anyone interested, this is an ADL 2006 audit of anti-Semitic incidents in the US:

Is there something similar produced in and about Poland?

Anonymous said...

opamp: Do explain how it is possible to have race crime in a country which only has one race. How can a racist commit a crime against a person of another race when he has no access to people of any other race?
Would the number of attacks on non-whites go proportionately up or down if there were more here? Who knows. We only know the situation now.

That situation is that a non-white is twice as likely to be the victim of racist crime here than in Sweden. You can use that fact as evidence of Poland's utter lack of racism as much as you want. Everybody else can see you're full of shit when you do.

I love your comment about what is and is not illegal in Germany. Have you heard of 'inciting racial hatred'? It's illegal in most places but evidently not in Poland.

Anonymous said...


I would count Jerzy Urban as part of a Minyan 'if' he was willing to partake in the prayers. 10 Jewish adult males are necessary for one. Abstaining from attending the Shul, or from being part of a Minyan, doesn't preclude one from being Jewish.

Yes, of course Jerzy Urban was raised as a Jew. He later became a self-proclaimed atheist, though he still remains Jewish due to the fact his mother was Jewish.

I've been all around Poland extensively and haven't seen or experienced anything significantly bad. Harry, you cannot say 'just how anti-Semitic this place [Poland} can be' due to the fact one individual may have negative feelings towards your Jewishness. That is being biased. You are now excercising what is called 'collective guilt' on an entire nation for the actions of one or several individuals. That is wrong. "Mihu Yehudi" is a problem. This can arise from intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews. That's another issue in itself.


My Polish is fair. I was attending a prominent American university when a friend I was with got kicked between the legs by another white caucasion student and he cursed at him as well, referring to his Jewishness. The guy then said 'sorry', laughed, and then ran away. Nothing was reported because he didn't wish carry the issue further.

At another incident, I was at a basketball game sitting in the stands with my skull cap. There were about 10,000 in attendance and I was sitting at the top row. Several rowdy men behind me threw bottles at me and my friends, telling us "Jews, get out!". Many around us laughed, some defended us. We reported this to security, but nothing was done. One thing I notice is that anti-Jewish incidents in the USA are not reported in the popular press as often as the European incidents are.


beatroot said...

In this sense, being a Jew is more like a nationality than like other religions; it is like a citizenship."

But don’t you think this is one – and there are many - of the misunderstanding that occurs on this subject.

What you describe is ‘an identity’ that makes ‘a nation’. Usually a nation is defined by culture etc, but also by a territory

And that means that wherever a Jew is, he is still in his ‘nation’.

And now we have a now monoethnic nation, that can only really define itself as such by its ‘Catholicism.’

And that leads to the type of thinking that police interrogators asked Adam Michnik after they arrested him in the 1960s”

So you are a Jew

No, I am a Pole.

But you are a Jew….


What they think is, that you cannot be a national of two different nations. So ‘Polish-Jew’ is a bit of an oxymoron.

beatroot said...

Oh, and Harry - what do you mean by 'inciteing racial hatred'?

Anonymous said...


I would like to remind you that you misquoted me. That In this sense...citizenship was not my work. I only boldfaced it. The source of that information is from the provided link, which very well states according to the Torah, just who exactly is a Jew.

beatroot said...

I understand what you have said – but Poles and Jews are defining a nation as being something to do with religion. ‘The Jewish Nation’. All I am saying is that there is bound to be conflict when ideas about ‘nation’ and ‘belonging’ etc are conflated. Many Poles don’t think of Jewish people as ‘Poles’…they think of them as ‘Jews’. And that’s the problem.

In London one of my mates is Pat – her dad is from Trinidad who moved to London to get a job in the 1960s. Pat was born in London. I – and most British – would regard Pat as ‘British’.

In America, it’s the same.

I just don’t see that kind of mentality here. It will take a generation. It took the UK many.

Anonymous said...


The 'who is Jewish' issue isn't complicated at all. I was born and raised in Florida, USA. Both of my parents are Jewish, most importantly, my mother is Jewish. So, I consider myself to be an American-Jew. Adam Michnik, is a Polish-Jew. His mother was Jewish...that is key. Of course, there are many Jews who consider themselves first to be Jewish, and then tag on their host country secondary terms. When I use the term Pole (Poland being over 95% Catholic), it is practically a default for "Catholic-Pole". So, I'll patch up my laziness and from now on, refer to all individuals by their nationality, or dual nationalities, or religion / nationality.

Sorry I forgot to sign off on my last post.



beatroot said...

With all due respect, I think you are evading the issue. How can Jews argue for a more inclusive idea of ‘nationality’ when they have this unique way of identifying themselves,? Even Poles would not insist that the gender of the parent was relevant to ‘belonging’. And what is the obsession with the mother?

Anonymous said...

Beatroot said:

"Many Poles don’t think of Jewish people as ‘Poles’…they think of them as ‘Jews’. And that’s the problem.

Beatroot, incorrect. The problem really is, there are some Poles that don't consider Jews to be Poles, and there are some Jews that don't consider themselves to be Poles, but Jews first. On both sides, "some" Jews and Poles misunderstand one another. By the way, "Poles" can be substituted by any other nationality...etc. German, Russian.

I will now give you a good example (one of many) of a Jewish woman, born and raised in Germany, who considers herself to be 'a Jew first', and 'German' second. This is quite common with many in my own family in the USA. They consider themselves to be Jews first, and Americans second. Please read on.

"...Round the corner from the rabbi's flat works 52-year-old Manuela Hoffmann-Bleiberg, one of the few born-and-bred members of Berlin's Jewish community. Many members of her family died in concentration camps and many friends and relations have moved to the US or Israel.

Hoffmann-Bleiberg's restaurant, Bleiberg, is one of the few kosher establishments in the city (Berlin). She only has a few Russian customers: "It is difficult to bring the two populations together. They tend to feel more Russian than Jewish, whereas people like myself define ourselves firstly as Jewish and secondly as German."

Source: The Guardian


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you went to a university down south, Aaron.

My guess is everybody here is familiar with the Borat in America vignettes:

And I kinda doubt that there's too much stuff like that going on in Poland while my guess is it's pretty common in the south (never been there except for Disneyworld), so you do have a point.

beatroot said...

My girlfriend’s mother is half Jewish – except she isn’t, because her dad was Jewish, not her mum, who was Catholic.

My girlfriend’s mum had as much contact with Jewish (Ukrainian) culture as someone born to a Jewish mum: but according to Torah she is not in the least Jewish.

That’s crazy.

And it is the original version ‘identity politics.’

And I have to disagree: most Poles I know – and they respect Jewish culture - still think of Jewish-ness as ‘the other’.

Anonymous said...

Beatroot, on the contrary, it is you who is evading the issue. Once again, the Torah and Jewish law dictate who is a Jew. Polish Catholics, or Irish Catholics, etc...have their own laws of who is a Catholic. I believe, if you are baptised and make communion, then you are a Catholic. Both Jews and Catholics have their own laws from the Torah and Bible respectively. So, there is no obsession about 'the mother'. It's Jewish law. Silly as it sounds, that is what is written in the Torah. Please visit Nozyk Shul whenever you wish and ask Rabbi Schudrich more about this. I'm sure I haven't missed anything.


Anonymous said...


Precisely, your girlfriend's mother isn't Jewish at all according to the Torah. You have it right. However, she can make the conversion in accordance with Jewish law and become Jewish.

You or I cannot speak for an entire population. For you mention, 'most Poles you know' think of Jews as other'. Well, that's understandable and I see that as well a bit here in Poland. You cannot blame the Poles for that as this country is one of the most Catholic in the world...over 95%. So most non-Catholics are just 'other'. Just as in Israel, most non-Jews are also considered by Israeli-Jews as 'other'.


beatroot said...

You keep saying what is �in the Torah� as if this is an excuse for strange stuff. Don�t you ever question this? Religions develop. The Vatican was horrified by Darwin, but now they except evolution.

And that is not my point, anyway. The problem � on both sides � is the notion of what constitutes a �nation�.

beatroot said...

You cannot blame the Poles for that as this country is one of the most Catholic in the world...over 95%.

But Aaron - they are NOT 95 percent Catholic: religion is about BELIEF - and if you are an atheist catholic, then you ainlt a catholic.

Anonymous said...

Religion is a reason for alot of strange stuff. :-) The three major religions, Christians-Jews, and Muslims... haven't changed in thousands of years. The same laws have been carried over from generation to generation, with very minor changes up until today. Religion is also a major reason for war on this planet of ours. There should be one nationality and religion...'humanism'. This would solve most of the world's conflicts today as we know it. :-) Yes Beatroot, I do question often, why do all religions have too many lousy laws, which sometimes don't make any damn sense.

I think for the nation debate, you should start a new thread, so we don't deviate too much from the original topic.


beatroot said...

The original post was about 'Polish anti semitism'...or not.. I am just trying to get to one of the roots of problem. And I think the idea of 'nation' is one of those.

Anonymous said...

How can a racist commit a crime against a person of another race when he has no access to people of any other race?

How come there are any racial crimes in Poland then? My point is that if someone wants to commit a racial crime, they will have no problem with finding a victim, provided the minority population is large enough. I know where to look for minorites in my town; so does everyone everywhere.

Would the number of attacks on non-whites go proportionately up or down if there were more here? Who knows. We only know the situation now.


Have you heard of 'inciting racial hatred'? It's illegal in most places but evidently not in Poland.

It's illegal in Poland as well. (And people get suntenced for it -- surprise, eh?) But having read the entirety of Rydzyk's speech you quote, I fail to see how his statement (referencing a known FACT of Jewish organizations advancing monetary claims against Polish government) is "inciting racial hatred".

michael farris said...

"Adam Michnik, is a Polish-Jew. His mother was Jewish...that is key"

According to Wikipedia (usual warnings)

"He was born to Ozjasz Szechter, a well-known Jewish communist and his wife Helena, a children's writer and fervent Gentile communist"

If this is accurate, we can both agree (for somewhat different reasons) that he's not the slightest bit Jewish.

I think many Poles however tend to reckon Jewish descent bilaterally and not only matrilineally (including Michnik himself)

"Michnik describes himself as a Pole of Jewish origins"

Anonymous said...

One point IMO too much neglected in the antisemitism discussion in this blog is that the "crime rate" is a function of three variables: the definition of "deviant" behavior, the intensity of prosecuting this behavior, and the occurrence of this behavior in society. Let me give two examples: (1) When West Germany in 1969 stopped penalizing male homosexual acts, the sex crimes rate significantly dropped, although the behavior in society did not change. (2) After the Nazi rise to power in Germany, spitting at or beating a Jew or a Communist/Social Democrat was no more prosecuted. The rate of bodily injury crimes dropped in comparison with the Weimar times, though the number of bodily injuries even increased .

In Germany as well as in France the threshold for a behavior to be considered "antisemitic" - and therefore punishable - is set extremely low, and the intensity of prosecuting "antisemitic" behavior is very high, both in comparison to Poland. Statements made in public, e.g. in a pub or as comments on Web forums, that in Poland are simply overheard or just tolerated can bring a German or French citizen behind bars. There are dozens of non-governmental organizations in both countries that monitor the Web, schools, universities, and the local press and report everything that they feel is an expression of racism or antisemitism to the police. They even track "anonymous" Web users down to help the police in identifying the culprits. This makes that countries such as France or Germany have high absolute and relative numbers of antisemitic incidents, compared to a more tolerant country such as Poland.

Anonymous said...

They (in Germany and France) even track "anonymous" Web users down to help the police in identifying the culprits.... compared to a more tolerant country such as Poland.

This is just waaaaay too funny the day after a guy in Poland gets busted and thrown in jail for 3 years because he set Google to pop-up Kaczynski to a browser entry of "prick."

Anonymous said...

Aaron, I don't get it. Earlier on you noted you wear a yarmulke (sp?) and that you are working to revive the Jewish community in Warsaw, then you write:

"Religion is also a major reason for war on this planet of ours. There should be one nationality and religion...'humanism'. This would solve most of the world's conflicts today as we know it."

And I hate to tell you but I know more than a few humanists who are bent on waging various wars.

Anonymous said...

Aaron: there are more than a few people in Poland who have anti-Semitic feelings. When you've been here a while you'll know that.

geez: Marek W. faces a maximum of three years in prison. I wrote about it today in my column.

opamp: How come there are any racist crimes in Poland? Because there are some people for your friends to abuse. If we were to see your dream come to pass and Poland were to be cleansed of non-aryans, most probably your mates with the football scarves would start beating up ginger-haired people. The point is that there are not many non-whites for your friends to attack. Please pass to them my congratulations for them attacking the non-aryans here with more than double the efficiency that the Swedes attack their white man's burden.
Here's a story which might make you understand: when I was working with VSO up in Slupsk I was in a town of 120,000 people which had three non-whites. Although the number of racist crimes per thousand Poles was lower then than it is now, my Jamaican-Chinese-Canadian co-worker experienced racist abuse every single weekend. From what I understand the situation up there is still equally grim. Well done you for still knowing where to find the black *******s.

Despite all your attempts to manipulate numbers you can not hide the fact that a non-white person in Poland is twice as likely to be on the receiving end of racist crime as they would be in Sweden. You can make all the claims you want about what might happen if there were more minorities in Poland but as you yourself have agreed, we only know what happens now. That is that minorities are twice as likely to be victims of racist crime here as in Sweden. Feel welcome to hold up this data as proof that Poland is a tolerant nation, it's easier for me if you declare yourself to be a moron and save me the trouble of pointing out that you are one.

Anonymous said...


Interesting indeed, that Wikipedia states Adam Michnik's mother, Helena Michnik, "...was a fervant gentile communist." If this is true, then according to Jewish law, Adam Michnik isn't Jewish at all, but has "Jewish roots'. I would then agree with you he isn't Jewish, but does have much more than 'slightest' Jewish roots via his father, half to be exact. The same applies to Beatroot's girlfriend, who has only 'Jewish roots'. Thanks for providing that reference. Again, I'm curious as to how accurate that info is.


That is correct, I wear a yarmulke. My comment about 'one religion...humanism', was a tad of tongue and cheek humor if you noted my multiple 'smileys' embedded in that posting.


Of course, as in every country, there are individuals with anti-Jewish, anti-Christian, and anti-Muslim feelings. I've been all over most of Europe and the USA. In my opinion, the level of anti-Jewish feeling or anti-semitism is much higher in the USA and most of Western Europe. I've been in Poland long enough to form this conclusion. Anti-semitism in Poland is very small.

Anonymous said...

The last comment was by yours truly, Aaron. :-)

Anonymous said...

Harry wrote: mates with the football scarves would start beating up ginger-haired people.

Well, Wisla-Krakow hooligans do beat up ginger-haired people if they root for Cracovia.

Harry, I do read your column tho clubbing has never been my schtick.
Just wondering tho... seriously, what do you like about Poland? Why do you stay there?

Anonymous said...

I would like to draw attention to another point in the antisemitism discussion, worldwide. There does not exist a clear and unambiguous definition of "antisemitic behavior." Is it an expression of antisemitism, to refer to Mr. Kwasniewski as "Stoltzmann," or to W. Szymborska as "z domu Rotermund"? You can find similar statements every once in a while in Poland.

Let me make still another remark. I do not doubt that "Aaron" met more overt (!) antisemitism in the US than in Poland. "Aaron" says that he wears a _micke_. That clearly identifies him as Jewish. I further assume that "Aaron" has his contacts in Poland predominantly with well-educated people ("wyksztalciuchy"). They know about the Holocaust and would, as educated individuals, never behave in a way that may hurt a Jew. In Poland, the Holocaust is part of the national trauma, in the US, it is not. And in addition, people in the US - that is my experience - like to speak their minds, whereas educated Poles are rather restrained.

Things are different, if Poles speak to a person they know is not Jewish. I very often hear, "I'm not an antisemite, but ..." And after the 5th vodka, I often hear something like, "What the Germans did with the Jews, was a bloody scandal, but they luckily rid us of them." (Read "Kobieta cmentarna" by Z. Nalkowska, you'll find this statement already made during the Warsaw ghetto uprising.)

And what is more: for those who do not like Jews and/or have anti-Jewish prejudices it doesn't matter what halacha says, who is a Jew. They "know better." Does it help a person harassed by a Jew-hater, if Rabbi X says that the victim wasn't Jewish? Antisemitism, as Poland and Japan graphically show, doesn't need "real" Jews. Imagined ones are sufficient.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beatroot said...

I am glad that Aaron feels comfortable here. That is important. I wouldn’t think an African feels so comfortable – though I am sure that we will discuss that again quite soon.

But there is one huge problem here regarding anti-Semitism. In the US, in UK etc it would simply not be possible to have someone like Giertych, or any of his other political throwbacks, in government. And it is that which makes people looking at Poland from the outside conclude that the country has a bit of a problem.

Anonymous said...


I do not think at all it is 'anti-semitic' to refer to one's real surname, especially if that person changed it from its original form. Also, I have excellent contacts with all members of society here in Poland, ranging from intellectuals to simple rural workers. All of those people have been repectable to me.

You said: "Things are different, if Poles speak to a person they know is not Jewish. I very often hear, "I'm not an antisemite, but ..." And after the 5th vodka, I often hear something like, "What the Germans did with the Jews, was a bloody scandal, but they luckily rid us of them."

Are you trying to say this is representative of all 38+ million Poles living in Poland? If you are, then it is called 'stereotyping' and 'generalizing'. It might be true from your circle of friends that you heard something like this, but you certainly cannot apply 'collective responsibility' to the entire population of Poland. This not only pertains to you, but with many commenatators on this blog and other forums. Too many people have the unfair tendancy to say 'all Poles' or 'Poland is...'. It is impossible to apply any single negative trait or behavior to an entire country or population. I see this problem too often among my fellow Jews in the USA who have the habit of blaming all Germans and Germany for the crimes of the holocaust. The holocaust was due to the very people that insitigated it and who took active part in it. Not all Germans and the entire country 'Germany' where Nazis and holocaust collaborators.


There is no problem in Poland with anti-semitism. It seems more to be a problem of exaggeration. The problem with anti-semitism, or anti-Polonism, belongs solely to the people responsible for committing the act itself, and not the entire population or country.

Example: A recent news-blurb taints Germany with the damaging headlines: "Xenophobic attack on Eastern European students in German city". The average reader seeing this headline will initially related Germany with Xenophobia, and not realize it was an act of several idiots and not the entire population or he government. The same type of headlines are too often publicized about Poland. We in Warsaw's Jewish community are trying our best to work with the Polish and Euroepan press to avoid such generalizations in the near future. It is damaging to any country's image to make such associations, and lacks objective reporting.


Anonymous said...

To "Aaron":
You are right, one should not judge a group of people by the behavior of a subgroup. You shouldn't. In principle.

But things aren't always as they should be. Ask sociologists, they will tell you that group identity is always shaped in contrast to other groups. The existence of a "We" implies the existence of a "They." Let me remind you of Bereshit 2: Adam realizes that he is "I" at the very moment, when G-d puts a distinct Other, Eve, at his side.

The nearer, in principle, two groups are, the more they must underline the differences between them to preserve their group identity. The need for stressing differences entails exaggerations, generalizations and, more often than not, invention of stereotypes concerning the members of the other group(s). This holds particularly for groups that feel that their identity is endangered, e.g. people or minorities surrounded by stronger Others.

So Poles will have to live with antipolonism, Germans with antigermanism, and Jews with antisemitism. Even US Americans will have to learn that not everybody in the world loves them.

As long as these anti-isms remain verbal, they should be tolerated. The way Polish law enforcement authorities handle expressions of antisemitism, IMO is much wiser than the way of perfect surveillance and rigid suppression that is followed in countries such as Germany or France. It leaves open a safety valve and prevents society from periodical outbursts of violence, as we see them paradigmatically in France. "Letting the idiots howl," as Deborah Lipstadt said, doesn't make the world more comfortable for Jews, but safer.

michael farris said...

FYI. A friend gave me a copy of a flier left outside his church. As he arrived alter boys were busy gathering them up from where they had been left by a helpful soul.

The flier is an impressive bit of conspiracy-fed lunacy, in which we learn (among other fascinating stuff) that the Kaczynskis are in fact ... jews and masons who are in the process of 'liquidating' Poland which will then serve as "Israel version 2" with a few million poor Poles kept around as a cheap labor force.

Apparently Lepper and Giertych are the only non-Jews around (the closest to a group taking credit is something called 'Polish emigrants in favor of Poland for Poles). There's a request for the receiver to make 100 copies and pass them on...

Anonymous said...

Michael Ferris,

If this really happened, then it sounds like Poland has become a true Western democracy, where out of millions of normal inhabitants, a few isolated lunatics are among them.

This doesn't prove any country wide anti-semitism at all. It only shows the presence of a small minority of idiots.

FYI: I attend mass religiously every Sunday in one of the largest cities in Poland, and I never witnessed such nonsense in my entire life.

BTW, did you hear about the group of Russian Jews in Israel that were recently arrested for Neo-Nazi behavior, physical abuse, and painting Nazi graffiti? That's what I call an embarrasment. Do a search on Google for that one.

Andrzej Kulinski
Łódż, Poland

michael farris said...

Andrzej, first, thank you for doubting my honesty. Secondly, of course the fliers were the work of a tiny lunatic fringe (or a single nutcase with too much free time). I never claimed otherwise (and thought it was obvious).

What I thought was interesting was how extreme and yet strangely unoriginal it was. In the US our nutcases imagine that the world is controlled by shape-shifting reptilians from another planet (Bushes? Reptilians, Queen Elisabeth? Yep, Reptilian). In Poland the most the crazies can come up with is masons and jews?

Also FWIW panhandlers from Radio Maryja used to stand outside the same church to accept donations.

Finally, one good thing about Poland is that anti-semitism has lost the pseudo-intellectual shine it once had and is a reliable marker for not-enough formal education and/or mental illness. Maciej Giertych would like to give it prestige it once had among racial theorists, but he's been unsuccessful so far.

beakerkin said...


My family is from the region and to a person they never considered themselves Poles. I was surrounded by people who were born in Poland, Balts, Ukraine and Russia and never once heard anyone in my community ever call themselves Polish. This is not to say that this is anti Polish and so forth but Jews have always considered themselves a Nationality. Even the communist hacks in the Soviet Union right Jew under nationality on their ID forms. For sheer political expediency Commies now turn their own logic on their head and say you are a mere religion. Funny one does not speak Methodist and any talk of Lutheranism as a nation is comedic.

beakerkin said...

One last point

Communists like Ren attempt to gain "revolutionary" brownie points by repeating the most rabid of anti-semitic party talking points. Jews have known who we are for centuries. Communist are not the arbiters of ethnic authenticity.

One who converts to Islam is no longer considered a Jew. Fealty to an elitist cult that worships a warcriminal (Trotsky) and sanctions class genocide is not a Jewish concept. Communists are mentally defective traitors whose essence is alienation, deception and theft. None of those qualities are Jewish in any definition.

Anonymous said...

This lawsuit is nowhere near as interesting as the two civil rights lawsuits brought against our Mayor and our esteemed Legal Department (headed by Kruzan's former campaign director/Boonville cop Kevin Robling) by two former Jewish residents: Barbara Leonard and Seth Patinkin. Word is, the City is going to make a special assessment to cover the $millions in legal fees they plan to incur fighting these folks. Another word of advice: better find another $5-10million to pay off Leonard and Patinkin, these are two very savvy businesspeople. If Kruzan does not make some changes soon to ratchet down his godfather ambitions, I will start rolling a petition mandating his recall from office myself. There is no damn way I am going to pay more out of my pocket to allow Kruzan to fight his personal vendettas. Isn't anyone else as upset about this stuff as I am?

Anonymous said...