Protesters light flares and carry Polish flags during a rally, organised by far-right, nationalist groups, to mark 99th anniversary of Polish independence in Warsaw, Poland November 11, 2017.
(photo credit: AGENCJA GAZETA/ADAM STEPIEN VIA REUTERS)
The Polish government on Monday condemned antisemitism but defended a rally in Warsaw that called to ethically cleanse the country of Jews and Muslims.
The march, which drew 60,000 participants, was held on Saturday to celebrate the country’s Independence Day.
Poland is among Israel’s stronger allies in the European Union, but its foreign ministry did little to acknowledge the rally’s racism.
In a statement published in English on Monday it stated: “The Independence March, which is a cyclical event, was organized in Warsaw. It was attended by thousands of people who wanted to peacefully manifest their patriotic feelings. For Poles, who differ in their opinions but who share the same values like freedom, like allegiance to their Independent Homeland, the march was a big occasion to celebrate,” the Polish Foreign Ministry said.
It added that the presence of such subversive elements in the march “was purely incidental” and “unwarranted.”
The ministry added that the “Polish authorities strongly condemn views springing from racist, antisemitic or xenophobic convictions.”
Israel has spoken with Poland about the march. On Sunday night its Foreign Ministry said that the event was a dangerous “parade of extremist and racist elements.”
It added, “We hope the Polish authorities will act against the organizers. History shows that racial hatred must be dealt with quickly and decisively.”
Prior to World War II some 3.2 million Jews lived in Poland, most of whom were killed during the Holocaust; many of the survivors left. As of 2010, there were only about 3,200 Jews still living in Poland.