Monday, January 25, 2010

Israeli media bash the Polish bishop

“It is so sad that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz a Polish cleric still engages in anti-Semitic rhetoric because so much Jewish blood was shed on Polish soil," said Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League in the United States, reacting to Bishop Pieronek’s comments that the Holocaust had become a “propaganda weapon”.

Fozman was quoted in Haaretz after top Bishop Tadeusz Pieronik told an Italian catholic web site on Sunday that he found the appropriation of the tragedy of the Holocaust by Jewish groups “arrogant”, as they were the only ones who suffered during the during WW II “unbearable.”

Christians and others who suffered under the iron boot of communism should have a day such as Holocaust Remembrance Day, too, says the bishop. "But they, the Jews, enjoy good press because they have powerful financial means behind them, enormous power and the unconditional backing of the United States and this favours a certain arrogance that I find unbearable."

Pieronek, asked if the Holocaust had been exploited, said: "Certainly it has. It is used as a propaganda weapon to get advantages that are often unjustified."

Eeek! What was Pieronek on?

His comments come just before January 27’s Holocaust memorial day, when national leaders gather in Auschwitz in southern Poland. This year’s guests include Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. Has 75 year old Pieronek taken leave of his senses?

Everyone I have talked to are surprised by Pieronek’s outburst. Pieronek is not a Rydzyk or a Jankowski - he is mainstream very senior, retired now, Polish Roman Catholic bishop, was on the executive bishop’s council, etc. He represents the status quo in Poland among the clergy.

Bishop Pieronek has hardly helped himself. His plea today on TVP television that his comments have been “taken out of context” and the even weaker “I did not authorise the article” - is he used to journos ringing him up to check quotes? (* see note below)- are lame. He denies saying that the Holocuast “was a Jewish invention,” but nowhere does he retract what many see as a tired old anti-Semitism.

"I am totally shocked by these comments, particularly if they came from a member of the Church hierarchy," said Leone Passerman, ex-president of Rome's Jewish community.

Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League in the United States, said: "It is so sad that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz a Polish cleric still engages in anti-Semitic rhetoric because so much Jewish blood was shed on Polish soil."

“We find it unacceptable that an important religious figure in Poland, only a few days away from International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is capable of making such inflammatory and false remarks” stated European Jewish Council President Dr. Moshe Kantor, quoted in ynet.

Personally, I think the Italian journalist who wrote the original story was taking a liberty with the “Holocaust was a Jewish invention” bit. He says before that: “In a sense,” so he was not literally saying it was an invention. But the general sentiments he spoke of are not unusual here in Poland. Not at all. what's changed is that recently you can get away with saying these type of things - especially after the Gaza debacle.

*I was informed today that there is a “Press Law” which originated in 1984 but which has been amended several times since, which says that the journalist, if requested, must authorise quotes with the interviewee. I found that strange. Is it?


ge'ez said...

Seems to me a certain aspect of the propagandistic element is documented by the online comments to the el Haaretz article.

And Norman Finkelstein says much the same thing in his books and articles and his website as the bishop (although my guess is that the bishop prolly is less sympathetic to the Palestinian cause):

That said, a Pole needs to be much more careful in his language and he should be pressed to explain what advantage is gained, as he claims, by Jewish "propaganda" about the Holocaust.

Dana said...

Politically insensitive and just plain wrong. But I have to say a lot of people, especially in Europe, where the guilt thing is more or less over and anti-semitism is on the rise in one form or another, he's not the only one.

Henry Grodsk said...

I think your informant is right about the "authorisation" law - one of the may instances of Polish deference to power.

Pieronek says he was misunderstood about the Shoah being an "invention" - he merely meant that the word was an invention, i.e. he did not deny the holocaust. If you are used to journalists calling back to humbly ask you if they can quote the things you said to them then, yes, maybe you would get into the habit of expressing yourself less clearly than you should. The interview was presumably not conducted in Pieronek's native tongue so misunderstandings could arise (Italian journalist goes off and prints interview "as is", while Polish subject expects it to be run past him first.)

Getting back to the press law: I don't know how it matches up to the reality of tape-recorded interviews. You can hardly take back ("de-authorise") something that has been recorded. In the west, the interviewee asks for the tape recorder to be stopped if s/he wants to say something off record. It seems that in Poland everything you are told is off record until the journalist, later on , gets "authorisation" from the interviewee.

Czarny Kot said...

On the one hand, he is only saying what others-- secular, liberal and even Jewish-- have said: that non-Jewish victims of the Nazis are often marginalised and forgotten and that the modern state of Israel too often plays the 'Holocaust card' to counter any criticism.

On the other hand, when he starts talking about rich Jews controlling the media and world public opinion, it does seem as if he is straying into the realms of anti-semitic conspiracy theories.

I haven't seen the original interview so I do not know if he has been mistranslated or quoted out of context. Whatever, it does seem like a very careless or politically naive thing for a Catholic priest to say a couple of days before Holocaust Rememberance Day.

At the same time, Poles must get pretty pissed off with all the implicit, between-the-lines accusations that they were the Nazis happy helpers rather than their victims.

Then again, we all know that Poles and other Eastern Europeans are the only fair game left in today's liberal PC world. Take Stephen Fry's comments for example. Moron.

Czarny Kot said...

It is also worth noting that Bishop Pieronek won an award for his opposition to Radio Maryja's 'anti-semitic tendencies'.

He is also a 'leading member' of the Stefan Batory foundation, a branch of the George Soros (Jewish-Hungarian) foundation.

ge'ez said...

Interesting coupla tidbits, Czarny Kot.

beatroot said...

No one, less I, am accusing Pieronek of being a whacko-catho...if you know what I mean...which is why this is odd.

But there again perhaps this is how Henry says. a not very PR savvy old geezer talking about something in an insensitive way without even realising that it came accross as it did.

On "authorisation" I took to mean "maybe leave that bit out...or maybe put that bit in before you quote that...". Whatever, editorial interference, plain and simple.

I got used to having to email questions in beflre hand; ambassadors want to see copy first. But didn;t know about authorisation rights.

What other countries do this?

Anonymous said...

Great article. Really enjoyed reading it, Mr Beatroot. ;-)

ge'ez said...

Or maybe the Italian guy from the whacko Catholic newspaper simply took way too many liberties, not just a few, in translating the bishop. And now the bishop is flummoxed and doesn't know how to respond?

Is Foxman not a propagandist?

Czarny Kot said...

I don't know if this bishop is an anti-semite or not. I don't know the man.

But let's be honest: in today's 24-hour media, Twitterfied, controversy-hungry world he has alrady been judged guilty.

Words and deeds from a whole career count for nothing. The only evidence which counts is one quote from one interview.

Of course it makes things easier that he fits neatly into a pre-existing stereotype. A Polish Catholic priest? Of course he's an anti-semite.

ge'ez said...

Authorization is strange?

Actually, it seems like a damn good idea to me.

Everybody flies off at the mouth now and again. Better that we should all have the chance to be more circumspect before something said hurts someone or some folks.

Does this allow for hiding "true" feelings? Maybe but it still seems better to let folks consider their better side vis-a-vis public statements.

Henry Grodsk said...

In a way authorisation does exist in the west. Any comment which is "off the record" can later be denied by the interviewee. The journalist could claim that the interviewee did, in fact, say that Martians live in his garden, but in the absence of a record it becomes a case of "my word versus your word." If the case were to go to court (e.g. Pieronek sues jouranlist for libel) - well, I don't know but I think judges would give the benefit of the doubt to the interviewee, rather than to the interviewer. Otherwise interviewers could just make up quotes.

As for sending submitting your questions - I don't see the point in such interviews. I remember the then president of Ireland gave a lecture in Poland and there was a Q&A section. Questions on slips of paper please, pass them up to the podium. The questions were amazingly tame, even though she more or less openly said that EU policy was to liquidate small farmers - this in the country in Europe with probably the largest proportion of small farmers...

Anonymous said...
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beatroot said...
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beatroot said...

Henry - as far as libel is concerned then it depends on the country the case is tried in.

If it were in an Englosh court then Pieronek would win - that is why Polanski had his trial against Vanity Fair held in London - 80 percent of libel trials are won by the complainant in england.

In the future, probably journalists will always carry broadcastable recorders, so if an intervieweee denies something then they can simply play the original tape...

beatroot said...

And submitted questions before hand is normal procedure - which is fine, I think - but interviewees giving the OK to editorial copy before it is published is bullshit, not journalism.

ge'ez said...

Bullshit is when some guy from a whacky conservative Catholic paper deliberately mistranslates what somebody actually says or twists somebody's words to fit the interviewer's own ideological presumptions.

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beakerkin said...

Here we go again with the musings of
the developmentally disabled Geez .

1) Norman Finkelstein is the planets foremost anti- Semite and a Maoist. This is a fact that the left conceals when pushing populist anti semitism.

Geez is not bright enough to address the second point.

2) The Bishop is 100% correct in his second point. There really should be a national day to memorialize the victims of communism.

The victims of communism do not get nearly enough attention. This
allows commies like Finkelstein to
pretend they are moral authorities
when they are merely advocating a criminal death cult.

This would also be news to Beatroot
who thinks Trotskyites are somehow
innocent of the carnage caused by
Communism. He also thinks that Hugo
the crack addict reminds him of Peron.

Seriously, where is the post on a certain Polish General's role in the "surprise" anti Semitic purges
in the late 60's. Communists use of populist anti-semitism a consistent pattern.

fleez said...

Everyone knows that Beakerkin is a dedicated devotee of Bukharin.

beakerkin said...

More stupidity from GEEZ

Be a good serf and fetch some beverages for the visitors of the Beatroot Salon. Remember to keep his glass filled with gin. Dry Salonistas
are really a bore.

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