Poland Anti-Semitism Update

More complaints about anti-Semitism in Poland, via the Daily Telegraph:

Poland was again forced on to the defensive over its attitude towards Jews yesterday after the Simon Wiesenthal Centre complained of the “anti-Semitic tenor” of a Good Friday procession.

…Beards and Stars of Davids worn at the Way of The Cross ceremony at the Kalwaria Zebrzydowska sanctuary “perpetuated medieval stereotypes of Jews”, Shimon Samuels, the centre’s head of international relations, said in a letter to the foreign minister. It also contravened Poland’s responsibility to combat anti-Semitism under its obligations to the European Union, Mr Samuels said.

A Krakow tourist information site gives a bit of background to the site:

In 1600 Poland’s first Calvary sanctuary was established in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, a town in the Carpathian Foothills 33 km southwest from Krakow, to provide pilgrims with a substitute of Jerusalem lost to the Muslim Turks and thus unavailable. With its 42 churches and chapels of all shapes and sizes in addition to the central basilica and the Franciscan monastery, the vast complex of buildings scattered among woods on the slopes of the 527-meter Zar mountain grew to be the biggest such compound in Europe. It is also Poland’s second most important destination for pilgrims. Over ages the pilgrimage to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska influenced millions of Poles…And the Good Friday feasts, when the famous traditional lifelike Passion plays are enacted in the scenery of the sanctuary, draw huge crowds every year.

An article in Krakow Life, meanwhile, makes mention of

the surreal case of the synagogue in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska which is now a furniture store.

An anti-Semitic painting at the site had been removed at some point in the past, as noted in Magda Teter’s book Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland:

One…controversy centered around a painting, formerly known as Infanticidia or “Ritual Murder by Jews,” in the cathedral church in Sandomierz…Following the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Poland and Israel in the 1990s and the appointment of a Jewish-Catholic committee on reconciliation, a demand arose that this painting be removed from the church, as other paintings of this sort had been in Poland, as in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, near Pope John Paul II’s hometown of Wadowice.

Of course, this sort of thing is not just a Polish phenomenon; a while ago I wrote a blog entry which discussed the Great Passion Play established by the American anti-Semite Gerald L.K. Smith in the Ozarks. I’ve also made mention of the yearly pope-burning that takes place in Lewes, not far from my home town in the UK.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph report has a worrying postscript (link added):

The fraught Polish-Jewish relations were not helped by reports yesterday that Andrzej Lepper, who is in line to become deputy prime minister, has received an honorary degree and supported a private Ukrainian university with a reputation for anti-Semitism.

This is the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management (MAUP), which I discussed in detail here; the institution and its head have links with David Duke. These new concerns come shortly after reports of anti-Semitic rhetoric emanating from the popular religious radio station Radio Maryja.

Meanwhile, Doug Ireland over at Direland continues to chart how the Polish far-right is targeting Poland’s gays in acts of violence. One of the groups inciting the attacks is the anti-Semitic League of Polish Families, which I discussed here.

(Hat tip: Christianity Today Weblog)

3 Responses

  1. Anti-Semtism is a nonsense word, because it implies that people who are anti-Jewish are anti all Semitic peoples. The Palestinians who have endured two generations of Zionist aggression are not anti … themselves.

    And it is a propaganda word, because if a Gentile is an anti-Semite — synonymous with bigot, racist, Nazi — if they discriminate against Jews, then Jews should be given that same level if they discriminate against Gentiles. amren.com

  2. Probably “anti-Jewish racism” would be a more precise term than “anti-Semitism”, but we all know what the latter in fact means in common parlance. I also think that Jews who indulge in other forms of racism should be challenged on the principles of anti-racism, not that they should receive the “same level” of obnoxious behaviour. And I see that you follow Israel’s line that criticising Israel is anti-Jewish, but in your case you think that that’s a good thing.

  3. […] want the Pope to intervene over offensive church art, there’s a queue; a couple of years ago I noted Magda Teter’s book Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland: One…controversy centered around a […]

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