Polish president Andrzej Duda
did not say Israel was responsible for the latest antisemitic attacks in Poland, and the original report published by Jewish Insider claiming so is “plainly not true,” president spokesperson Błazej Spychalski said in an official statement released by the Polish Embassy in Israel on Friday.
B’nai B’rith International President Charles Kaufman said Jewish Insider was “first with fake news,” and confirmed that Duda never said these things. “When I read the Jewish Insider account,” he said, “I thought someone missed something in the translation. I heard no such account.”
The original report claimed that Duda said these things during a meeting on Wednesday with Jewish leaders in the Polish consulate in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who was present, wrote that the claims were made by Holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg, who was awarded Poland’s Order of Merit and was also at the meeting, and not by the Polish leader. Boteach strongly objected to the statement.
The meeting included members of several organizations, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Anti-Defamation League.
Duda did speak about a February statement made by Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who said that Poles “suckle antisemitism with their mother’s milk.” Katz was repeating a famous statement made by prime minister Yitzhak Shamir during a conversation in which he said his father was murdered by Poles.
Duda said Katz’s comments were a “humiliation,” and seemed disappointed that the foreign minister never apologized for them, Boteach wrote.
Duda went on to say that several advisers had suggested that he should not go to Israel until Katz apologizes.
Earlier in the year, a diplomatic crisis broke out between Poland and Israel after Warsaw made it illegal to accuse the country of complicity in Nazi war crimes. Duda then blamed Israel for the crisis.
“The side that started the crisis should also finish it,” Duda told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview at the Presidential Palace in March. Asked if that would be Israel, he replied: “Yes. I expect friendship and respect. On both sides. I will never agree with statements that Poles as a nation participated in the Holocaust or Poland participated in the Holocaust. It humiliates us and hurts us. In my own family, there were people murdered by the Germans, and first and foremost [to say the contrary] waters down what really happened.”Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report.