Tekst jest traktowany jako integralna całość, można go cytować, ale zgodnie z prawem z podaniem źródła, tzn. autora książki i jej tytułu, osoby udzielające wywiadu, no i tłumacza amatora:). Tłumaczenie jest moje (z pomocą Google Translate), dlatego jest pewnie w nim dużo błędów:), pro publico bono, całkowicie bez wynagrodzenia.
Bridges aren’t built in museums
with Dana Rothschild
You are running an Internet portal dedicated to Israel, "Erec Israel." In its pages, you deal with issues that are hard to be found in other Polish-language media. You often have to go through Israel's reluctant propaganda. The texts posted on "Erec Israel" - in addition to clearly visible love for Israel - are often characterized by sympathy for Israeli Christians. Where did the idea for the portal's activity come from and where did this sympathy for Christians come from, along with the unconcealed reluctance to Islam?
I am not breaking through the unwilling Israel propaganda, I just show the hypocrisy and manipulation of this propaganda. Hence the idea for the portal: expand the discourse. And I sympathize with all decent people, in Israel and beyond, regardless of their religion and origin. The Christian religion is certainly closer to me and more understandable than the religion of Islam, whose results I feel day after day. It is Islam from its very beginning, to put it mildly critical of Judaism and Christianity. In the Koran, the holy book of Muslims, one can find, among others, such an admonition: "O you who have believed, don’t take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you - then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people."(Qur'an 5:51) Israel is the only country in the entire Middle East in which the number of Christians is steadily increasing.
Is the systematic increase in the number of Christians in Israel associated with a positive natural increase, the influx of refugees from other Middle Eastern countries, or the conversion of Jews and Muslims to Christianity?
There are around 130,000 Christians in Israel. Some 80% of them are Christian Arabs (they belong to the churches of many denominations), although many of them don’t consider themselves Arabs, because they think that Arabism is more than just knowledge of this language. Others 20% include Christians from the former Soviet Union who came to Israel using the so-called The Law of Return (to use it it is enough to have at least one Jewish grandfather or grandma or be married to a person with Jewish roots). Conversions in different parts of corse happen, but it's rare. Christians grow in strength from year to year, because in Israel they just live well. GDP per pita in Israel is as much as in New Zealand or the United Arab Emirates (IMF 2015) and is higher than in Japan, Kuwait or South Korea. Israeli Christians, like the Jews, attach a huge role to education, so they are the elite on the labor market. Above all, however, Israel provides them with security and protects against pogroms. What is happening with Middle Eastern Christians? They are murdered. For Islamic fanatics, an Arab Christian is much worse than a Jew. Jews are, in their opinion, lousy and mean, but such Arab Christian is a traitor. Former Israeli president Moshe Katsava, accused of sexual harassment at the office, sentenced and imprisoned Israeli judge George Karra, an Arab Christian. Can you imagine a similar situation in the other direction, eg in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia?
Probably not. Against the background of the Arab states, Israel appears to be an oasis of religious and civic freedom. However, it isn’t that nice. In 2013, the thirteen superiors of the Christian Churches in Israel, including the hierarchs of the Orthodox Churches, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Custos of the Holy Land - in a statement specifically addressed to the Israeli authorities - protested against the brutal treatment of clerics and faithful by the Israeli police and against its arrogance while securing Christian religious ceremonies. In 2015, the former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, accused the Israeli authorities of doing too little to stop Jewish extremists from persecuting Christians or arson and desecrating churches. Although 43 attacks on Christians were to take place from 2009, none of the perpetrators was convicted. The current Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, also thinks that the Israeli authorities are failing to protect Christians. Are the anti-Christian sentiments among the some Orthodox Jewish milieus getting stronger? What is the root of the problem?
This case from 2013 concerned the Easter events at the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. As you probably know, this sacred object is managed by six Christian factions, often with each other in conflict. Almost every year during the most important Christian holidays in the region of the basilica there is a bloody slaughter between Armenian and Greek monks. In addition, the capital is visited by crowds of tourists and pilgrims, and the narrow streets of the Old Town of Jerusalem aren’t able to accommodate all those willing. The police traditionally regulated access to the Old Town at that time. However, the crowd pressed and there were small riots as a result of which several clerics were battered. However, no one was injured and no one was killed.
Most of the incidents you are talking about were hooliganism (eg, spraying offensive slogans) that didn’t harm any man. Also, the police aren’t able to catch the perpetrators. Anyway, how do you know that Jews have allowed them, and not, for example, Muslim Arabs? On the other hand, arson is treated seriously by the police. The perpetrators of the church's arson in Tabgha are accused and are answerable in court. Perhaps from the Polish perspective it looks like an increase in "anti-Christian moods", but it's a bit like a story that a guy bit a dog (then all newspapers write about it), because if a dog bites someone, this isn’t interesting information. Most Muslims aren’t publicized at all: the leading individual attacks on the Christian community have been severely denounced by the leading orthodox rabbis of Israel, including the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Dawid Lau, as well as secular authorities, Polish media didn’t write. Israel, of course, also has fanatics, as do thieves, cheats or rapists, but they don't testify to orthodox Jews or Jews at all. You need to know clearly say: these are all incidents that constitute a very small fragment of the whole, and to find out it is enough to go eg to the Gaza Strip or even to Bethlehem (Palestinian Autonomy), where the situation of Christians is tragic. Does the burning of the puppet of a Jew in Wroclaw by a provocateur testify about all Poles? Of course not. It is a pity that spiritual Christian leaders in the Holy Land don’t condemn it to Islamic terrorists with the same verve as Jewish hooligans. Maybe because Jews don’t lay down bombs and cut their heads for criticism?
You say that Christian leaders in the Holy Land apply double standards because they are afraid of Muslim reactions. Are they really so intimidated or are they guided by political correctness? Or maybe it is something else? In Europe, it is ultimately the domain of the Left to attack Israel and portray Palestinians and Muslims as its innocent victims. A significant part of the Christian right in Europe sympathizes with Israel, seeing in it the bastion and the outpost of Western civilization and the first barrier against Islam. How do you explain these discrepancies?
Of course they are scared and have good reasons. Muslim radicals say that after Saturday (Jews) people will come time for Sunday people. And they know it well. I can understand this because we Jews know the bitter taste of life in a minority and in a hostile environment. We have our own state only since 1948. You are right about the left, but the Christian world is very divided. Your description fits well with American Christians who are, for the most part, hot Zionists, but with different churches sometimes different. I don’t know if you heard that recently in Warsaw several Protestant churches organized a support march for Israel. Warsaw Jews and other people supporting Israel, including many Catholics, joined the action. Many of them are my friends and I have known them for years. Do you know what Facebook announced on Fr. Tadeusz Isakowicz-Zaleski? He stated that this was the work of Mossad. Do I now have to assess his activity in a similar way and throw various accusations against him? Are we to make a dialogue based on insults without coverage?
Of course, this behavior leads every attempt to dialogue in a dead end. Both Christians and Jews are internally diverse environments with different sympathies. This is why it is often easier to find a conflict between us than to reach an agreement. There can always be a priest or pastor who is speaking of Jews unfavorably, or a rabbi who verbally attacks Christians. The black and white image of the world and stereotypes are more attractive for tabloidizing media from those who use the language of dialogue. Therefore, marginal things are often pre-set as a norm, and normal things are presented as a margin. However, in spite of these unfavorable conditions, do you see any progress in terms of Christian-Jewish relations, in particular Catholic-Judaic?
It will never be symmetrical relations. Because the Jews are a nation and a religion in one. This is inseparably connected with each other. If the Eskimo were to convert to Judaism, he wouldn’t only be a follower of Judaism but also a Jew in the national sense. Judaism is also deeply decentralized and there is no single major leader like the Pope. I understand and support how I can do Jewish-Polish and Polish-Jewish dialogue. Certainly the Nostra aetate declaration and the wonderful gestures of Pope John Paul II were crucial, but problems also arise. Judaism isn’t a missionary religion and doesn’t look for converts by force (even traditionally discourages candidates), but it can’t be said about Christianity. The Catholic Church is still praying for "the return of Jews." Other Christian churches also carry out missionary activities in Israel. I am reminded of a joke like a priest and a rabbi arguing about a messiah. They are joined by a Buddhist who says that they would be reconciled, because this is what the same man will come, only one of you for the first time and the second time for the second time. Rabbi Nahmanides (Ramban) once conducted a dialogue with representatives of the Catholic Church in the 13th century, and it all ended badly for the Jews. I don’t see much progress today. We must learn to vary beautifully, because no theological compromises are possible. Some Church representatives also forget that hating Jews is a sin. There will be no great love.
Let's lean over the question of religious conversion for a moment. You have said that the increase in the number of Christians in Israel is to a small extent caused by the admission of Christianity by followers of other religions. Is this due to the hermetic nature of Judaism and Islam or other factors? After all, for many religious Jews, a Jew who accepts Christianity ceases to be a Jew. Muslim, who give up Islam, is threatened with death.
I think that Israel with its religious mosaic isn’t an exception here. People in the world generally rarely change religion. Certainly much more often they abandon religion and become an atheist or vice versa, but it is more natural than a swap of Hinduism for Bahaism. Among Jews there is a saying that a Jew who abandons religion "returns to the question", and the one who converts, "returns to the answer". Islam actually punishes apostates with death. However, Judaism doesn’t have any rules regarding Christian religions at all. Religious Jewish law excludes every Jew from the community, who will accept any other religion, but such a person doesn’t cease to be a Jew, because he can convert at any time without having to make a conversion. A Jew is every person who was born of a Jewish mother or underwent a conversion process to Judaism. In the Jewish orthodox circles, if a family member changes religion, they recognize that they are dead and going through mourning (this is called "shiva" in Hebrew). But it isn’t the case that Jews don’t accept Christianity because they are afraid Anathema: Some of the orthodox will be sitting in a "shiva" and hatching the relative also for atheism and turning to pork or shrimp. Same for accepting Islam and any other religion. If you want to have sympathy, appreciation or love from someone, then you must first gain respect. And you will never get respect if you don’t have respect for yourself. I will put it very diplomatically and I will say this: the Christian world for almost 2000 years went out of his way to discourage the Jews.
These famous crusaders, who were going to "liberate the Land of Israel with the Promised Land or the Holy Land under Muslim rule, traveled through Europe and murdered Jews on an amazing scale along the way. When they got to Jerusalem, they burned synagogues filled with Jews and mosques together with Muslims. Thank God, today there is a relative harmony between the Christian world and the Jewish world. I don’t think, however, that conducting a religious dialogue has any deeper meaning. Of course, we can discuss the value of poetic psalms or the beauty of nature in the "fifth gospel" (this is how my country is called the Custos of the Holy Land by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaball), but it only interests theologians, and a real change is at hand. One must go beyond the slavery of the "cemetery" and "Holy Land". Poles should see the Jewish state of Israel, not just the Holy Land, and the Jews should also see Poland, not just the Jewish cemetery, where the Germans murdered millions of Jews. I consider this Christian-Jewish dialogue for, please forgive, fiction. Let's do more youth, scientific, military and cultural exchanges today. We face today with similar geopolitical problems, whereas interreligious dialogue is an attempt to powdery the Middle Ages. We already have 2016, and according to Jewish calendar even 5776. Time for facts, not literary visions.
In the past, there was often a distortion of Christianity by lay rulers who treated them instrumentally, making religion a tool for practicing politics. In 1204, during the Fourth Crusade, the crusaders captured and plundered Christian Constantinople, making the slaughter of its inhabitants. Thus, the crusades had various faces. Not only those related to the murder of Jews. I understand, however, that the trauma associated with it is still alive among Jews, just like the memory of the persecution they experienced in medieval Europe. However, it should be remembered that the Jews found shelter in Christian Poland, which later issued such outstanding people as Paweł Włodkowic or Saint Pope John Paul II. In the age of increasing the number of Muslims in Western Europe and the associated wave of anti-Semitism, can Poland become - along with Israel, the US and Canada - one of the safe havens?
You have misunderstood me. The Jews certainly remember the crusades, but to the same extent as the Poles about the Swedish flood. I gave them only as an example. It is aware that it was something, but it doesn’t spend anybody sleeping it. Israeli schools will teach young people what has happened to their ancestors, but due to the fact that the history of the Jewish nation is a few thousand years of history, it is by no means thoroughly studied every epoch as in specialized historical studies. The Jews have one homeland today and it is Israel. In history, we have already met with such powers that wanted to destroy us. We survived the ancient Egyptians, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans, Byzantines, Soviets and the Thousand-year Reich, and we can still mention ... And where are they today? Desert, toothless rags with Kalashnikovs aren’t able to drive us out of our eternal homeland. Jews found shelter in Christian Poland, but they also found pogroms, persecutions and contempt. Poland is a past and accomplished time. Not only because very few Jews leave Israel, but those who leave choose the US, Canada or the countries of Western Europe, not Poland. Paweł Włodkowic can be associated with Israeli medievalists. What else is the Marshal Józef Piłsudski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Zbigniew Herbert ... In Israel, you will find the streets of Orzeszkowa, Mickiewicz, Chopin ... Did you see an Israeli postage stamp with Irena Sendlerowa?
Is gratitude for the good that many Jews experienced in Poland shown to Poles also outside the Yad Vashem Institute? I mean, in addition to the post with Irena Sendler mentioned by you, people like Jan Karski and Henryk Sławik, or the Council to Aid Jews with the Government Delegation for Poland, have their place in the memory of Israel by dedicating their memory to streets, parks or squares?
The State of Israel doesn’t specifically specify Polish Righteous Among the Nations from all Righteous from different nations. Young people learn about them all during school lessons on Szoah (extermination) and during school delegations to Poland, where he meets the living Righteous and learns the stories of those who are already dead. There are a lot of disagreements about these trips in Poland. “Slander” Eli Sidi on the educational trips of Israeli schoolchildren is one of the most important texts in the history of our portal Erec Israel and I really encourage you to read it. Just as you noticed the place where the Righteous are worshiped, is the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem. Just go to the website of this institute and you can find everything there. Israel honors Poles who have been saving Jews for decades. Irena Sendlerowa's tree grows at the very entrance to Yad Vashem and is watched by everyone visiting this special place. I know, for example, that in the city of Ramat Gan there is a street of Jan Karski, and in Jerusalem there is a memorial plaque for Karski in the park. I heard that today the TVP1 channel was showing the film “Irena Sendler's Children”. is a pity that it is only so late. Israel honored this heroic woman a long time ago, in 1965, and Poland remembered about her and the other Righteous only after Jan Gross published a book about Jedwabne. Because you see, these Righteous are the other side of the coin, on which there are Polish murderers and blackmailers. Some of the Righteous, many years after the war, were afraid to talk about their heroism for fear of some neighbors. They say it themselves. By the way, in Israel, there was really hardly anyone who heard about Gross and his books. Hebrew newspapers wrote about him very, very little.
Like me, you come from Lodz. However, you decided to leave Poland and go to Israel. Why did you decide to aliyah?
I didn’t decide to leave Poland and go to Israel. It was my parents who made such a decision for many years before leaving Poland and for six years they received a refusal to leave the authorities of the Polish People's Republic and only in 1967 we left. And there were no plans to go to Israel. My parents settled in Vienna and spent the next seven years there. Although I had Jewish parents, I was brought up to the age of 15 as a Polish Catholic, so I didn’t have much in common with Jewry, but after listening to Gomułka's speech in 1968, I knew that I would never come back to Poland, not permanently ... And so It took me 26 years to the first visit in Poland after the trip: it was a very "good" speech for many, many Polish Jews ... our eyes opened ... then I traveled a lot all over Europe and somehow I could not find my place there. .. In September 1973, I went to Israel as a tourist and there I literally felt at home after leaving the plane ... As many years later my mother described it: after leaving the plane Ben Guriona stops being a Jew ... 4 a month later I was traveling to Israel as a new emigrant who literally got an Israeli identity card at the airport: no one 'received' me there and no one 'visited' me like this that many Poles about Polish Jews, because, as you can see, 1000 years of Jewish life in Poland and their enormous contribution to the development of Poland, it isn’t enough for the recognition of Polish citizens ... there I came home ...
However, it isn’t that bad with these Polish citizens. In this respect, Poles in the East have much more difficulty than Jews from Poland. Poland has enabled the Jews claim to regain Polish citizenship. The descendants of Jews who left Poland once, even in the third generation, can claim Polish citizenship without any obstacles. Often, such situations happen that they not only don’t speak Polish, but don’t want to learn it at all. They don’t think about coming to Poland. The Polish passport is only for them to travel, study, conduct business and live in other European Union countries. Meanwhile, Poles living in the former Eastern Borderlands, despite the fact that they cultivate Polish traditions and speak Polish, and above all want to live in Poland, still have big difficulties with gaining, confirming, or obtaining Polish citizenship. So today I don’t see any significant problem in recognizing Jews as Polish citizens who apply for it. It seems to me that there is still a problem in recognizing Catholic priests of Jewish origin as Israeli citizens. If of course I'm not right, please correct me.
I don’t like these Polish justifications ... All Polish misfortunes are held by the partitions, Russia, Ukraine, Germany and the Swedish flood, but not the Poles themselves ... It is the Jews' fault that the next Polish governments can’t bring Poles from the Eastern Borderlands? Israel at the time when the Soviet Union collapsed brought about one million people from there, and today there are about 6 million Jews in the entire country. This million Jewish new immigrants were a huge injection of people on a small Israel scale.
The authorities of the Polish People's Republic in 1968 threw away Polish Jews depriving them of illegally citizenship and it is worth understanding that this citizenship was nothing compared to taking away the identity of the Jews: they felt Polish, do you understand that? World War II survived some 300,000 Polish Jews. And shortly before the purges of Gomułka in 1968 in the so-called About 30,000 Jews lived in People's Poland. It is easy to count that the vast majority of the survivors left earlier. This so-called March Jews should be returned this citizenship, illegally picked up, automatically, without any application, and then with apologies! Poland has recently accepted 80,000 Chechens, and the problem is a handful of Jews who will not come for Polish unemployment benefits?
If some descendants of Polish Jews want to confirm the possession of Polish citizenship, then there is no exception, because we see the same among emigrants and exiles from many nations in the world. And indeed, these descendants want this citizenship only because it is easier to move around Europe or to be able to study there.
As for Catholic priests, there are a lot of erroneous theories in this matter, which, unfortunately, are circulating all over the Internet. There is no problem with “Catholic priests". It is indeed an amendment from 1970 which was introduced into the Law of Return. The amendment states that a person who is Jewish and voluntarily and fully consciously changed his religion to any other, then can’t automatically obtain Israeli citizenship as a Jew (though he may receive it as a non-Jew, among others by naturalization or marriage with Israeli citizen). As I have already mentioned to you, Jews are a nation and a religion in one. A Jew who changes his faith consciously to another, ostentatiously excludes himself from the Jewish community. You can’t be a member of Likud and the Labor Party at the same time. You can’t be a PiS and PO member at the same time. You can’t dance at two weddings at the same time. A Pole can be a Catholic like most Poles or a Protestant like your famous Adam Malysz or a Muslim like General Józef Bem. And he doesn’t cease to be Polish at the time. But you can’t be both a Catholic and a Muslim ...
After two thousand years, we, the Jews, finally have their own state again and this is the only Jewish state in the world (there are plenty of Catholic or Muslim). This state is based on the Jewish religion and secular law also sometimes takes into account the rabbinical law. If it were to loosen everything, Israel would soon cease to be a Jewish state and would become another state with a Jewish minority. The Jews know history and today we know well how this Jewish minority was treated in other countries. A Jew in Israel is a full-fledged citizen, whom no one can quit and take away from him citizenship, because the government needs a scapegoat and in Israel Jews themselves decide about their fate and aren’t dependent on someone's grace. This will never change.
As you said before, you were baptized and were a Catholic until 15. What caused you to leave Christianity? Did you decide to be fully Jewish because, as you said, "Jews is a nation and religion in one", or was it related to an anti-Semitic campaign in Poland in 1968 and a desire to distance yourself from Polishness and Catholicism? Maybe there were completely different motives at stake?
I was 15 years old when I found out that I was a Jew ... My parents after their wartime transitions decided that their children wouldn’t be brought up to be Jewish and wouldn’t only die for being Jews ... I rejected Christianity at the age of 12, because I was already big enough to stop believing in the Immaculate Conception and somehow I didn’t believe in the priest's teaching about running a family life, because he didn’t have any idea about it. At this age, I stopped going to church. At that time I didn’t know anything about Jews, I didn’t even know that I was a Jewess myself, so that it was a purely rational resolution ... In 1968, I experienced an anti-Semitic charter from Vienna ... I have never distanced myself from Polishness, but from Catholicism and general from all religiosity I moved away at the age of 12 ... I really don’t have to look for anything more in my decision than it was: lack of faith in the stories that I heard then, some drawing of Christ giving sweets to polite children and all the rest of what no one could prove to me, only he had to believe blindly. I belong to people who believe only in what they can see, touch, smell and eyes believe in proven historical facts.
You left Poland as a teenager with a Polish identity. Who do you feel at the moment?
I feel Jewish, I'm Jewish and I was born in Poland.
In the 20th century, tens of thousands of Jews came to Israel from Poland. Apparently, they didn’t consider themselves the so-called Polonia. Do they feel at present somehow connected with Poland? Do they feel any role in the construction of bridges between Poles and Jews, for example through the construction of the Museum of Polish Jews in Israel, the example of the POLIN Museum established in Poland? In the end, despite the fact that today there is the Museum of the Remembrance of Hungarian Jews in Safed in Israel, it doesn’t have an institution that would talk about the fate of Polish Jews.
With all due respect to Safed, who is even one of the four holy cities in Judaism, but it is a tiny town. This tiny museum has a buzzy name, but it is actually a private and very modest initiative. The history of the diaspora, including Polish Jews, can be seen in the huge and magnificent Diaspora Museum (Beit Hatfutsot) in Tel Aviv. Do Polish Jews consider themselves Polish? Do you know that Israel doesn’t speak Hebrew "American Jews", "German Jews", "Polish Jews", but just Americans, Poles, Germans? Do Poles feel connected with Poland? Some yes and some not. Please remember that Israel isn’t a vacuum, and a Polish Jew can get married to a Yemeni-Moroccan Jew, and then their children can get married with Jews from France or the USA. This Polishness with every generation is more and more blurred and the purely Israeli identity wins, but for example, T-shirts with the Hebrew inscription "Toceret Polania", meaning "Made in Poland", sell very well. Can Polish Jews play the role of bridges? Many of them successfully do it, but bridges aren’t built with museums. This Warsaw museum is rather a sarcophagus.
So the building of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews was not a good idea?
Please, don’t laugh, but I will start a little philosophically. In antiquity for the Greeks, beauty was God, and God was a beauty for Jews. This museum is very Greek. Form prevails over the content. They were built on the site of the former Warszawa ghetto, which my parents passed through. As soon as it was announced many years ago that it was the Museum of the History of Polish Jews (because that's how it was called), I was very happy, but now after many years I wonder if it is good that it was created at all. Because if it was to be a beautiful sarcophagus exhibited a thousand-year Jewish presence in Poland, I don’t know if it was worth spending so much money on it. This museum also gives fuel to lousy anti-Semites who permanently on many internet forums and social networks calculate how Poland built the museum for Jews, and you didn’t build a hospital, for example. And yet this museum doesn’t serve the Jews, because, as it were, it serves only so-called Polish historical policy. The idea was to show that Jews lived in Poland for 1000 years ... That Poland isn’t only anti-Semites ... The idea was that Poland shouldn’t be associated only with murdering Jews. Let's face it. But the problem lies somewhere else.
The museum was invented, among others a new secular tradition to attach daffodils to the flaps during the Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. They even distribute them to passers-by in the city. The official line says that Marek Edelman always boycotted state ceremonies, went there to the monument of the Heroes of the ghetto alone and folded yellow daffodils. Only that it is a lie. Together with my co-workers, we once dug archives of Polish newspapers from the PRL period and found it in black and white that he happened to participate in state-run academies in the PRL. At some point, he actually stopped walking. This is the first lie. The second lie lies in the fact that Jews didn’t wear stars in the Warsaw ghetto, but they had to wear armbands. That's why pinning these idiotic daffodils that have the same shape as the Star of David is grotesque. To make it even more ridiculous, Edelman used to give away in the media at the time, but he didn’t have a daffodil as a sign of solidarity with the Jews, because in his opinion it was supposed to be a German way of humiliating Jews, so it shouldn’t be used to express sympathy. May you see what they are inventing pyramidal and breakneck structures. The best obvious symbol would be, of course, two flags - Polish and Israeli. Such flags were hung by militants of the Jewish Military Union at pl. Muranowski. They so enraged the Juergen Stroop, well captured in the excellent book by Kazimierz Moczarski “Conversations with the executioner”. The Israeli mail just issued a stamp that showed the Polish flag and the Zionist flag on the roof of a burning Warsaw tenement ... Pressing Edelman everywhere is pure madness. Edelman, in a way, patented this uprising for himself, and there were many insurgents. For certain environments in Poland, he was a bit so Jewish saint, but he was not a saint. He often spoke mean and terrible nonsense about Israel, which are, moreover, readily quoted by anti-Semites, or insulted, for example, by Janusz Korczak.
I will give you another example. Zygmunt Stępiński, who sits in the authorities of this museum, wanted to use the alley for the museum named after Raoul Wallenberg, who saved a large number of Jews in Hungary, but he had nothing to do with Warsaw. Warsaw councilors turned out to be more conscious and honored Irena Sendler. We then suggested that the second of these alleys should be named Stefania Wilczyńska, not Raoul Wallenberg as Stępiński wanted. We have collected thousands of signatures of people from all over the world of many races, religions and nationalities. Do you think that the museum supported us? No! It shouldn’t come as a surprise if the head of the education department in this museum is Łucja Koch, the daughter of Helena Łuczywo.
Articles about Israel that appear in "Gazeta Wyborcza" for some reason often have anti-Israeli overtones. It is in the pages of this newspaper that it was announced that the very existence of Israel threatens peace. It was also announced in it that Israel is a “addict of war". I give you just a few examples of how they ruin Polish-Jewish relations, because you can exchange them for a very long time. Unfortunately, for some time in the media coverage, propaganda is dominating over facts and distorts the real picture of reality. Some of the deceitful words that fall to Israel today often remind me of what could have been heard in the times of Moczar and Gomułka.
You beat hard. Am I to understand that certain environments today have a monopoly in Poland for talking about Jews, Israel and the Holocaust?
Hardly? I tried to speak very carefully. Do they have a monopoly? I often visit journalists in my Jerusalem home, writers or travelers from Poland. It is only in Israel that they open their eyes to certain matters. Not only when it comes to matters strictly concerning my country, but also this entire Polish-Jewish epic. When they come around the city and talk to ordinary people, they take perspective and start to see in the right proportions. As for Poland, in fact a group, colloquially called a “saloon”, has taken over Jewish-Polish relations. In my opinion, you have to do everything to get them away. My family has never had anything to do with communism. The same applies to the vast majority of Polish Jews. The communists, before the war, enjoyed little support among over 3 million Jewish citizens of the Second Polish Republic. Today, the successors of these communist renegades are leftists who can’t be identified and confused with the left. Irena Sendlerowa, Andrzej Strug or Marshal Józef Piłsudski were the left people who supported Zionism and were friends of the Jewish people. But you need to chase the left-wingers. And when it comes to Marek Edelman, one thing must finally be realized: for us, Jews were just one of the many millions of Jews who fought against Nazi Germany. Contrary to what he repeats, he was also no leader of the uprising. There were only two leaders: Mordechaj Anielewicz (Jewish Combat Organization, left-wing Zionist) and Paweł Frenkel (Jewish Military Union, right-wing Zionist). And that's what lets you see Edelman in the right proportions. For the good of Polish-Jewish relations, he should be removed from the pedestal as soon as possible. Have you ever had a great ambassador in Israel, Agnieszka Magdziak-Miszewska, who did a lot of good promotional work for Poland. In recent years, the Polish government has done a lot to ruin these relations.
And do you see in some field the spoiling of relations with Poland and Poles by the Jews themselves or by the Israeli government?
Of course I can see, but I must also immediately point out that in the Israeli media about Poland, it is rarely ever written, and if it is, then most often on sports websites. When it comes to the Israeli government, I don’t remember anything, but private people can unnecessarily mix up. Sometimes it happens. For example, prof. Zeev Tzahor wrote an article criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a few years ago and announced in him that the Poles were serving Auschwitz and were worse than the Germans. The Israeli newspaper then embarrassed the article from the web. In Poland, of course, there was a wave of indignation. But it is worth recalling that the Israeli government, Yad Vashem and the most important Jewish organizations have always opposed this lying aggregate "Polish camps." The late Prof. Israel Gutman from Yad Vashem always said that one of the forms of denial of the Jews is using the term "Polish concentration camps".
Former President Szimon Peres once said jokingly that we buy Poland, Hungary and Manhattan, and something else, and I know that some people in Poland took it seriously, and he meant only that Israeli investors are doing well.
The slothful Israeli embassy in Warsaw, which not only can strike on the day of Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Warsaw, is also very badly affected by these relations, but instead of defending the interests of his employer, the Israeli taxpayer, he acts as if he was pursuing his own policy abroad despite Jerusalem. Israel would have in Poland for better press if it had a competent and hardworking monitoring team, for example Polish media.
To może ja zrewanżuję się tym samym pytaniem: czy Pan dostrzega na jakimś polu psucie stosunków z Izraelem, Izraelczykami i Żydami przez samych Polaków i rząd Polski?
Maybe I will repay myself with the same question: do you see in some field the spoiling of relations with Israel, Israelis and Jews by the Poles themselves and the government of Poland?
Answering this question, I must admit that we don’t yet have a coherent vision of how our mutual relations would look like in the future. Of course, both Polish and Israeli politicians declare publicly that Poland and Israel have special relations and strategic partnership. Relations at the level of government are, however, much better than the relations between our societies, between Poles and Jews. We are still looking at Jews, and thus also at Israel, from the perspective of wartime and post-war experiences. Similarly, Jews looks similarly at Poland and Poles. No doubt, until the wounds on both sides heal, we will still only live in the past. This doesn’t mean that the past isn’t important. Without the past and the deception of our common history, there can be no talk of mutual understanding and reconciliation. All of this requires, above all, time, mutual empathy and great effort on the part of people of good will.
Poland is wasting enormous potential related to the presence of Polish Jews and their descendants in Israel. The Polish state can’t reach them and take care of them properly. Undoubtedly, this is due to the lack of a coherent cultural and educational policy, aimed at maintaining and promoting Polishness among Jews coming from Poland. One of the ideas to change this state of affairs is to conduct - for Jews from Poland - Tel Aviv, in Haifa and in Jerusalem, free Polish language courses, Polish history and Polish culture, and to intensify the Polish-Israeli youth exchange.
Poland should unambiguously cut off the communist regime installed in our country by Józef Stalin and thus put an end to the exploitation of the events of March 1968 as a proof of anti-Semitism among Poles. This cut can be based on - desired from the perspective of historical justice - the automatic restoration of Polish citizenship to all Polish Jews who were taken away in connection with the events of 1968. All this should, however, take place only after careful analysis of whether there is at all a legal possibility of automatically restoring Polish citizenship to them and whether it will sometimes cause these people further problems. If it turns out that such a legal possibility exists and it is beneficial to these people, then it is possible to think about whether, along with restoring Polish citizenship, it wouldn’t be apologetic to them for not having returned their Polish citizenship before. This “I apologize" would have to be embedded in a proper context, because it should be accompanied by a well-prepared information campaign aimed at sending a clear and clear message to the world that in 1968 Jews from Poland didn’t expel democratically elected representatives of the Polish nation, but the communist regime imposed on the Poles threw them away, whose Soviet masters - according to the Institute of National Remembrance - persecuted around 1.8 million Poles in 1939-1952, of whom about 150,000 lost their lives. It should also be remembered that in 1937-1938, under The Polish operation, the NKVD, carried out genocide on Poles, resulting in the death of up to 200,000 people of Polish nationality. One could also mention from 60,000 to 100,000 people (mostly of Polish nationality) killed in the Polish-Bolshevik war, or of tens of thousands of Poles murdered in the USSR in 1920-1937.
At the same time, it should be clearly stressed that the main victims of the non-sovereign, communist Polish state were not Jews at all, but above all, people of Polish nationality, such as, for example, Captain Witold Pilecki or Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko. A perfect illustration of how the communists treated Polish patriots is, in fact, setting one cell with a German criminal, SS General Jürgen Stroop, a soldier of the Home Army, Kazimierz Moczarski, mentioned by the you, who was sentenced to death by a communist court, later changed to prison. In 1956, Kazimierz Moczarski was finally acquitted. In 1968, he condemned the communist cadence to the Jews, for which he was dismissed from work.
Thus, blaming the Poles for the crimes of communists, including activities such as the anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist brawl of 1968, is something curious and completely incomprehensible. It shouldn’t be forgotten that from 1944 - especially in the Stalinist period - in the puppet Polish state, apart from the communists of Polish nationality, the communists of Jewish nationality who made up a significant percentage of the leadership of the security organs were also leaders. The documents available today indicate conclusively that the events of March 1968 were caused by the tensions on the ZSRS line - Israel, and above all the games of competing communist raids. Therefore, losing responsibility for 1968 from communists to Poles isn’t only unfair, but also bears the hallmarks of falsifying history.
In the introduction to the Italian issue of “Conversations with the executioner” Kazimierz Moczarski, Adam Michnik wrote: "In 1968, the anti-Semitic campaign reached its apogee. Its result was notoriety and international scandal. Jewish anti-Polish feelings have revived and intensified. In the public opinion of democratic states, the stereotype of "Poland - an anti-Semitic country." The entire nation was blamed for the policy of the communist authorities. " Although Adam Michnik isn’t a man from my fairy tale, it is difficult for me to disagree with him in this case. Therefore, the Polish nation and the authorities of the Third Polish Republic shouldn’t be responsible in any way for what they did in 1968, foreign to most Poles, imposed on them by force - communist power. The apologizing in this context by President Aleksander Kwaśniewski for the activities of the communist authorities in 1968 was therefore offensive and harmful to Poles. In this way, there was a symbolic shedding of responsibility for the actions of their communist perpetrators and oppressors on all Poles.
The apology belonged to the Polish Jews only for the fact that after 1989 they had to wait so long to restore their Polish citizenship. The issue of apologizing for the delay in returning Polish citizenship concerns not only the so-called March Jews, but also Poles in the East, who are still unfortunately treated by the Polish state and the politicians who rule it, as Poles of a worse sort. When returning Polish citizenship, its former citizens should be held regardless of their ethnic and religious affiliation and regardless of the country in which they are currently living.
Even the greatest criminal shouldn’t be deprived of his citizenship, but he should be judged fairly and punished by him for his guilt. The fact that many communists of Polish and Jewish nationality have never been punished for their deeds is unfortunately a great shadow today on Polish-Jewish relations. Therefore, it would be advisable to bring before the Polish courts, to judge and severely punish all living people who, acting in the communist apparatus of repression, would commit crimes against the Poles. And it doesn’t matter that some of these people are now 100 years old and live on the other side of the world. It is necessary to pursue these people as they chased Adolf Eichmann, Fritz Bauer and Szymon Wiesenthal. Communists, regardless of their ethnic origin, should have their Nuremberg, even if it would only be her belated substitute. Of course, the Nuremberg trials covered only the Nazi tops and not all of them, for thousands of Nazi criminals found refuge in the countries of South America, the United States, or Austria. Among those who enjoyed freedom for a long time was Adolf Eichmann. The denazification of the German justice apparatus proved to be a travesty, as evidenced by the fact that after 1949, such Nazi jurists as Eduard Dreher and Hans Gawlik reformed in Germany. The co-author of the Nuremberg race rules, Hans Globke, even became the secretary of state in the Federal Chancellor's Office Konrad Adenauer. In any case, the crimes committed by the communists can’t get away with all of them. What is needed here is even a symbolic process of communist criminals. If they were to be judged, demoted and removed from the public space of communist relics, then finally it would be possible to settle definitively with our common, difficult and complicated past. Thanks to this, we could free ourselves forever from the communist burden on Polish-Jewish relations.
Another issue is our backlog in commemorating and properly displaying people and events important for Polish history. Bearing in mind the Memorial of the Little Insurgent in Warsaw, which is a tribute to Polish children who took part in the Warsaw Uprising, it would be worth honoring similarly Jewish children who smuggled food into the Warsaw Ghetto in a similar way. At the Monument of Small Smuggler, who could stand at the corner of Żelazna St. and Solidarności St or at the corner of general Władysław Anders St and Świętojańska St, and should be engraved - proposed by prof. Ludwik Hirszfeld - the words: "Unknown child - smuggler". Besides, apparently also Emanuel Ringelblum postulated that a monument to the Unknown Smuggler was built in Warsaw after the war. The creation of such a monument could be a reason to restore Poles' memory of hundreds of anonymous, heroic children who saved from tens of thousands of people starved to death in the ghetto, often paying the highest price of their own lives.
As in Bialystok, Ludwik Zamenhof has his own monument, and in Łódź, Julian Tuwim, his own bench and Artur Rubinstein have piano, as well as prof. Ludwik Hirszfeld should have his laboratory table in Warsaw. Professor Hirszfeld is a model of a Polish intellectual and a great patriot, and therefore fully deserves to be elevated to the pedestal. Not only the monument should remind Poles about its great merits. His autobiography “The story of one” life should be included in the canon of Polish reading.
In it, as in a lens, all of the nuances of Polish-Jewish relations from the period of the WWII are focused.
Berek Joselewicz, Michał Landy and three rabbis - Dow Ber Meisels, Izaak Kramsztyk and Markus Jastrow - as well as Stefa Wilczyńska, Zofia Kossak-Szczucka, and Irena Sendlerowa should also have their monuments in Warsaw. Decorated by President Aleksander Kwaśniewski with the Order of the White Eagle and nominated in 2007 for the Nobel Peace Prize - on the initiative of President Lech Kaczyński supported by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - Irena Sendlerowa, although she has his monument in the Russian capital, but in the Polish capital, Warsaw, so in the city where she was born, she lived and died, so far she has not been honored in this way. And she should be, because thanks to her activity, at least 2.5 thousand Jewish children were saved. There are, of course, many more people worth honoring and there is no way to list them all here. Certainly, however, one should start by honoring the local Righteous, as well as commemorating in small towns, Polish Jews living there before the war, and taking care of Jewish cemeteries.
By the way, I would add that it would be good if the statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate, which Catholics from the Warsaw Ghetto were to call the "Mother of God from the ghetto" returned to the All Saints' Church in Warsaw. Return to the Grzybowski Square - figures of such a rich history and symbolism, it would bring it out of the oblivion it is currently in.
Since many founders and builders of Israel came from Poland, it would be good if in 2018 on the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of Israel, the prime minister or the president of the Republic of Poland took part in the celebrations. Finally, one of Israel's main founders, Dawid Ben Gurion, who came from Płońsk, allegedly even read the Israeli Declaration of Independence with a Polish accent. Another of the signatories of the Declaration, the leader of the World Zionist Organization, Icchak Grünbaum, was a deputy to the Sejm in the Second Republic. In turn, in celebration of the National Independence Day of Poland on November 11, 2018, the Israeli delegation, headed by the prime minister or the president of that state, should take part. A very significant and symbolic gesture on the part of the Israeli leader would be the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw and the completed Mausoleum of Jewish Fighters for the Independence of Poland in Warsaw.
The Israeli Independence Day, i.e. Yom Ha-Acmaut, in 2018 falls on April 19. All Israeli public holidays, as well as Jewish religious holidays, run according to the Jewish calendar, so in the Gregorian calendar they are movable holidays. Certainly, the presence of the President of the Republic would be something very nice. On 5 May we will celebrate the day of remembrance of the victims of extermination, i.e. Yom Ha-Szoa. Half of the 6 million Jews murdered during the WWII were Polish citizens, so here the presence of the High Representative of the Republic of Poland would be even more obvious.
Of course, a lot of Israeli leaders came from Poland and Polish Jews are still setting the tone in Israeli politics. Even the current Prime Minister Netanyahu is a son of a Varsovian.