Polish Jewish groups say they don’t feel safe due to rise in anti-Semitism


WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — Twenty-three Jewish organizations in Poland signed a joint letter in which they emphasize that they do not feel safe in Poland and call for mutual “respect and truth.”

“Increasingly, hate speech has escaped the confines of the Internet to infiltrate the public sphere. It has found its way into newspapers and television broadcasts, including those belonging to public media outlets,” the letter states. The Jewish organizations also noted that Poland’s Jewish community has received a rising number of anti-Semitic messages. They emphasize that public officials have condemned anti-Semitism, but “do nothing to stop the spread of evil.”

Polish Jews, unlike many of Europe’s Jews today, “do not now face direct physical threats” but the situation “is far from normal,” the groups said. Anti-Semitism, according to these groups, is a growing problem in Poland today.

“We know that Jews are not the only victims of Poland’s current hateful climate. We stand in solidarity with all people in Poland who experience hostility and discrimination, including Roma, Muslims, refugees, people of color, Ukrainians, and members of other national, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities,” stated the Jewish organizations, which “feel anger toward and shame in our country.”

The groups noted that the current wave of anti-Semitism is a response to the passing in the Polish Parliament and signing by the president of a controversial amendment limiting rhetoric on the Holocaust, that criminalizes claims that the Polish nation or state are responsible for Nazi crimes.

“More than a break in relations between Poles and Jews, which have been growing stronger in the decades since Communism, we fear the growing chasm in understandings of our national character. Stand with us as honest, brave, united Poles. We shall not be divided,” the letter said.

According to the new law, “anyone who, in public and contrary to the facts, imputes that the Polish Nation or the Polish State was responsible or co-responsible for the Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich or for other crimes against peace, humanity or war crimes, or otherwise grossly diminishes the responsibility of the actual perpetrators of these crimes, shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment of up to 3 years.”

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