Poland apologizes to rabbi after attack

President Lech Kaczynski invites chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich to his palace.

poland chief rabbi 29888 (photo credit: Channel 2)
poland chief rabbi 29888
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Poland's president expressed solidarity Monday with the country's chief rabbi, who was attacked over the weekend, assuring the Jewish leader he would do everything in his power to oppose anti-Semitism. President Lech Kaczynski invited Rabbi Michael Schudrich to his palace, where he expressed regret over the attack and said Poland will not tolerate anti-Semitism, said the presidential undersecretary of state, Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka. "The purpose was to say 'I'm sorry for what happened,"' Junczyk-Ziomecka, who was present during the nearly one-hour meeting, told The Associated Press. She said Kaczynski also told Schudrich that "Poland is an open society, a democratic society. It is open for everyone who wants to be here." Schudrich was punched in the chest and doused with what appeared to be pepper spray on a Warsaw street Saturday by a young man who yelled "Poland for Poles" - an old anti-Semitic slogan implying Jews are unwelcome in Poland. Schudrich, who was not injured, said he was "very moved" by Kaczynski's invitation and words of solidarity. "It was a very clear reaction and very important in showing that there is no place in Poland for anti-Semitism," Schudrich said. The attack on Schudrich came four weeks after a small right-wing party, the League of Polish Families, entered a governing coalition led by Law and Justice, a conservative party that Kaczynski helped found. Jewish leaders have expressed concern over the deal with the League, which has a radical youth wing whose members have been known to use Nazi slogans. They say its presence in the government nurtures an intolerance that increases the chance of anti-Semitic attacks.