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Polish President Allegedly Accuses Israel for Anti Semitic Rise

Polish President Andrezj Duda has come under recent scrutiny for alleged anti-Semitic comments in a meeting with American Jewish leaders during the week of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Reportedly, while hosting at the Polish Consulate in New York, President Duda claimed that comments by Israeli leadership have incited the recent rise of attacks and anti-Semitism against Jews in Poland, and have “[humiliated]” the Polish people. Given the ascent of illiberal rhetoric in the region, Duda’s assertions have come under fire and have extenuated what already appears to be tepid Polish-Israeli relations.

Polish President Andrezj Duda and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo Source:    jta.org via GPO

Polish President Andrezj Duda and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo Source: jta.org via GPO

Prior to the incident, statements by the Israeli government yielded a less than favorable outlook towards the state of current affairs between the two countries. This year, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz revived old ministerial claims that Poles, “suckle anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk,” prompting strong lashback from Polish officials at the stark accusations. In response to the remarks, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called off his participation in the Israeli hosted Visegrad summit in February. However, diplomatic tensions between the two nations peaked last year when an immensely controversial Polish law supported by Duda was passed in order to criminalize any remarks implicating Poland as complicit in Nazi war crimes, or denoting Polish concentration camps as “death camps.” 

Talk of returning anti-Semitism and instances of struggle have not only been limited to the diplomatic arena. Attempts to restrict reference to Poland’s historical roots and collaboration in the Holocaust’s anti-Semitism have resulted in the Polish government’s seizure of control of the Polin Museum, a museum dedicated to the culture and remembrance of the Jews of Poland. Similarly, Polish protests erupted in May of this year in response to an American law of restitution that calls for the return of confiscated belongings and property to the Jewish community during the Holocaust.  Alarmingly, the demonstration was viewed as one of, “the biggest openly anti-Jewish street demonstration in Europe in recent years.” And rising anti-Semitism in recent years is becoming an increasingly widespread phenomenon, with Jewish residents of countries across Europe noting spikes in anti-Semitic violence and intolerance in many regions, notably amongst them Poland. 

Polish protesters contend the restitution of Jewish property taken during the Holocaust. Photo Source:    Globalnews.ca via Maciej Jazwiecki/Reuters

Polish protesters contend the restitution of Jewish property taken during the Holocaust. Photo Source: Globalnews.ca via Maciej Jazwiecki/Reuters

In response to the recent accusations alleged against President Duda, the Polish government released a statement contesting that the reports are “inaccurate” and “plainly not true.” Supposedly, other sources in attendance to the meeting corroborate that Duda did not make those comments, and instead that a Holocaust survivor who was also present at the event asserted that Israel was the one responsible for rising Polish anti-Semitism. While it appears that President Duda may not have been the one to place blame on Israel, the reality of Poland’s anti-Semitism and its growing presence are something that cannot be denied.