Protesters light flares and carry Polish flags during a rally, organised by far-right, nationalist groups, to mark the anniversary of Polish independence in Warsaw, Poland, November 11, 2016..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There has been a "distinct normalization of antisemitism" in Poland, the European Jewish Congress (EJC) warned on Thursday and called on the Polish government to respond forcefully.
The EJC also expressed "grave concerns" over the deteriorating relationship between the Polish government and Poland's Jewish population at a time of rising antisemitism in the country, stating that no senior Polish government official has met with the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, the democratic body responsible for representing Polish Jewry, in approximately one year.
"We have seen a dramatic rise in recent antisemitic incidents in Poland, which appear to have coincided with the Polish Government closing its communications with the official representatives of the Jewish community," said President of the EJC Dr Moshe Kantor.
"There has been a distinct normalization of antisemitism, racism and xenophobia in Poland recently," continued Kantor. "We hope that the Polish government will stem this hate and act forcefully against it."
The EJC statement declared that Jewish community concerns have peaked following a string of antisemitic incidents in Poland, including by representatives of Poland's largest political party, Law and Justice (PiS). According to the statement, the rise in antisemitism "appears to have permeated many layers of Polish society."
“We hope the Polish leadership will restart engagement with the Jewish community and condemn antisemitism in all its forms,” Kantor said.
Recent incidents have included the appearance of flags of the far-Right ONR Falanga group at state ceremonies and Law and Justice member of parliament Bogdan Rzonca's social media post that said: "I wonder why, despite the Holocaust, there are so many abortionists among Jews." In August, an Israeli soccer team was attacked by Polish hooligans
following a soccer match near Warsaw.
In August, Leslaw Piszewski, president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, and Anna Chipczynska, president of the Jewish community in Warsaw, sent an open letter
to a founder of the Law and Justice party stating that they were "fearful for [their] security as the situation in [their] country is becoming more dangerous."
The letter from the community leaders said that the current situation is a "lowpoint" for Polish Jewry.
In 1939, Poland's Jewish population stood at over 3 million people, representing almost 10% of the country's citizens and the largest Jewish population in Europe. Today, it is estimated that there remain approximately 10,000 Jews in Poland.