UK columnist offends Poles in article

‘The Times’ columnist calling Poles anti-Semites sparks anger; Polish ambassador in UK files a complaint.

February 7, 2013 06:03
2 minute read.
Polish and UN flags.

Polish and UN flag 311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Kacper Pempel)


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KRAKOW – Poland’s ambassador to the UK filed a complaint after a column in the British newspaper The Times portrayed Poles as anti-Semites who “enjoy throwing Jews into wells and dancing on their graves.”

Gile Coren, a columnist for the Times, published on February 2 a piece under the headline, “Today I make first column in Polski.”

Coren came up with the idea to write the humorous column after a recent census revealed that Polish is the second-most spoken language in Britain. He explained in his column that his Polish-Jewish ancestors emigrated from Poland to Britain in 1903 and that he was now celebrating how commonly spoken Polish is in the UK.

His portrayal of Poles as anti- Semites is causing outrage among Poles living in the UK.

Coren wrote, “In Poland man who not like Jews simple throw them down well with pitchfork still alive, drink vodka, big laugh ha ha, then is fill in concrete and dance on grave.”

Using pidgin English, he also referred to comments made by the British Liberal Democrat MP David Ward, who recently asked how the Jews “could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on the Palestinians on a daily basis.”

Coren wrote, “If he not like Jews, say he not like Jews. Polish mans is not afraid say is not like Jews. What is confuse Polish mans is why MP David Ward not say he not like Jews.”

Leaders of the Polish community in Britain have written a complaint letter to the Times and to the UK’s Press Complaint Commission.

“Mr. Coren has failed to be amusing and succeeded only in being insulting. We cannot accept Mr. Coren’s primitive description of Poles as anti- Semites. In Poland we build synagogues, not burn them as in some other countries. When it comes to the number of the Righteous among the Nations, there are 6,339 Polish rescuers listed in the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem and only 19 from the UK,” the Polish community’s leaders stated.

This is not the first time that Coren has raised the ire of the Poles. In a July 2011 column titled “Two waves of immigration, Poles apart,” he referred to the wave of Polish workers who decided to leave the UK and return to Poland. He wrote that “we, the Corens, are here now because the ancestors of these Poles who are now going home used to amuse themselves on Easter by locking Jews in the synagogue and setting fire to it.

The option to return to Poland was not there for my greatgrandfather, for obvious reasons, and by 1945 the Poland he had left did not exist anymore.”

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