'After WWII, Israel can't be expected to sit meekly'

Polish FM Sikorski tells Jewish forum that Poland committed to Israel's security, but objects to settlements.

June 5, 2013 05:09
2 minute read.
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski

Radoslaw Sikorski 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski declared his support this week for Israel’s right to defend itself from military aggression, recalled the tragic loss of Poland’s three million Jewish citizens during World War II and stressed his country’s commitment to the renewal of Jewish life there.

Speaking at the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum in Washington, he began by underlining the good and stable relations between the AJC and Poland.

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“The American Jewish Committee has been a great friend of Poland’s,” he said. “You were right there with us as we rejoined the West, NATO and then the European Union. We noticed and we remember. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Discussing the Jewish community in Poland during World War II, he noted that “three million Polish Catholics and three million Polish Jews were murdered, which means that 90 percent of Catholics survived and 90% of Jews perished, because Polish Catholics were second in line for extermination. Poland’s great, fine Jewish community was almost obliterated.”

He then stressed his country’s commitment to Israel’s security, but said that Poland did not feel obligated to support every move Israel made and that it objected to Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories.

“Poland’s basic policy on Israel is principled and unambiguous,” he said. “Poland affirms Israel’s right to exist within secure borders. Poland affirms Israel’s right to defend itself. After what happened in World War II to Poland and to the Jewish community in Poland and across Europe, no one should expect today’s Israel to sit meekly and wait to be attacked.”

However, he continued, “a wise Israel will think about helping the Palestinians achieve the same. Poland doesn’t, and need not, support everything Israel does to maintain its security, or its handling of Palestinian issues. We don’t support the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories. However, we completely reject and resist Islamic extremism.”

Sikorski concluded his speech by telling the 1,500 delegates about Warsaw’s new Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which opened in April, and about the revival of Jewish life in his country in recent years.

“Poland today is free, strong, and getting stronger. With great freedom comes great responsibility,” he said. “Part of this responsibility lies in making sure that today’s Jewish community in Poland is safe, welcome and respected.”

The museum, he said, “has been built in the heart of the former Warsaw Ghetto area on land donated by the city of Warsaw. The building has been paid for from Polish public funds. It’s going to be a world-class center for Jewish history and culture.”

He also noted the establishment of Jewish festivals and events across the country, adding, “We support today’s Jewish community in Poland, and we honor Poland’s historic Jewish community – not just for how it died, but for how it lived and how it is coming back to life.”

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