Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Are We Guilty of Gross Prejudice Towards Poland? by David Jacobson

source

The commentary, below, is reprinted with permission.

Commentary: Are We Guilty of Gross Prejudice Towards Poland?

by David Jacobson
August 16, 2012

In the ashes of Auschwitz we lost more than Jewish lives – we lost an integral part of our historical memory. If we truly want to ensure Jewish continuity for tomorrow’s Jews, then we have to reclaim the positive history of Polish Jewry today.

Mention Poland to most Jews and their immediate association is with Auschwitz, Treblinka, Majdanek and the brutal murder of some 6 million Jews. I have recently returned from two weeks in Poland attending the 24th International Nahum Goldmann Fellowship with a group of 40 young Jews from around the globe and I witnessed personally the deep psychological wounds that are still alive today in today’s generation of Jews. Even though these Jews are two or three generations removed from the horror of the Holocaust, members of the group broke down at various stages during the week-long conference, weighed down by the living, haunting memory of their families’ stories. Whenever something went wrong, if a computer crashed or a meal was late, the standing response was: “It’s Poland.” And behind this jocular response lies a real pathology. Poland has assumed a uniquely nefarious status in the collective Jewish psyche – Poland represents death, destruction, hate and unbridled, brutal antisemitism. It is seen as Jewish black hole.

And until my recent visit, that was indeed the image I held in my mind and heart. Although I fully understand its genesis and there is a sane substantiation for it, everything I saw and heard convinced me that Poland has been unfairly portrayed by the global Jewish establishment. This has created dangerous prejudices and stereotypes (generalisations of an entire people); ironically these stereotypes are of the very same ilk that was the thought-generators of the rampant racism that laid the foundation for the genocide that took place during the Shoah. We brand the Polish people as ‘brutes’ and ‘eternal antisemites’ and we send tour after tour of young Jews to the death camps and they march defiantly through Poland, blinkered to the multitude of memorials to Jewish history and Jewish life and legacy that literally litter the streets of Warsaw and Krakow. By doing this, we are not only perpetuating a cruel bigotry, but we are also cheating these young Jews of a remarkable opportunity for Jewish growth and regeneration.

During my two weeks in Poland, I learned about and witnessed another side to this much maligned country – a side that should shine light on the shadow of the valley of death that is the perpetual Jungian mirror for most of us. I heard from Professor Moshe Rosman, an internationally distinguished Professor of Polish Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University, about the great Jewish civilisation in Poland and its legacy that was eradicated in the Holocaust and that has largely been forgotten, even by the descendants of Polish Jews who emigrated before World War II to the United States and Israel. Indeed, the children and grandchildren of those immigrants in the United States know more about the Native Americans than about their Jewish antecedents in Poland. I heard about 1000 years of uninterrupted Jewish history that is arguably unparalleled in the annals of our people – a history that produced the Lublin Yeshivot and Jewish greats like Rabbi Moshe Isserles and Rabbi Yosef Schneersohn, not to mention contemporary Jewish giants like David Ben Gurion and Menachem Begin.

I also heard from Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Programme Director at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, which is being erected in Warsaw, who described with great passion the different historical periods of Polish Jewry and their rich cultural achievements. The historical scope and reach of Polish Jewry was gargantuan and cast an imposing shadow over the rest of the Jewish world.

But the reach of Polish Jewry is not only a matter of history. I had occasion to spend time with Magda Koralewska, the 29 year old co-founder and president of Beit Krakow – a newly created Reform community in a city that once had 64 000 Jews, but was reduced to 3000 in 1945. Her and other young Jews like her are doing remarkable work in recreating Jewish life out of the ashes of the Holocaust and the death-grip of communism. Magda is a “Jew by choice” – a voluntary convert to Judaism.

“Discovering Judaism made me feel Polish for the first time,” Magda explained.” I finally had something to be proud of as a Pole – the contribution of Polish Jews to the history of Poland and the world.” And Magda does not stand alone. There are a slew of young Jewish Poles who are reinventing their community, redefining their Jewishness and reinvigorating the proud legacy of Polish Jewry.

I also witnessed a remarkable attraction and affinity to Jewish culture in Poland. We forget that pre-WWII, one in every three Warsaw residents was Jewish. Thus in many ways, Jewish culture and Polish culture are inextricably linked. At the Krakow Jewish Festival, a festival now in its 22nd year, thousands of non-Jewish Poles stream to listen to Klezmer music and Chazonis, or to attend lectures on Jewish topics or to view art with a Jewish theme. Haunting reverberations of Yiddish songs fill the streets and restaurants.

I visited Kazimierz Dolny during the annual Klezmer festival, and was treated to a burst of Jewish culture unlike anything I have ever encountered in the streets of Cape Town or Johannesburg. The audience was filled with not Jews but ordinary Poles – Poles of all ages and all sizes, drawn to this Jewish culture that they feel is as much theirs as it is ours.

This is not to suggest that there is no antisemitism in Poland. There is. Pop into almost any curio shop in in Krakow or Kazimierz and you will find the ubiquitous “Lucky Jew” in both figurine and poster. This is a caricature of a Hassidic Jew in full garb, with a prominent nose, holding onto a coin. Poles buy them as they believe it will bring them good fortune. It is a somewhat bitter reminder of the deep and dangerous prejudice that still exists within Polish society.

But this ugly stereotyping is hardly unique to Poland. So while we should not disregard it, we should also not dismiss our Polish heritage because of it. For Poland is so much more than merely a Jewish nightmare. Professor David Shneer, an expert in post-Soviet Eastern European Jewish communities, explained: “The most important thing we can do is stop seeing Poland simply as a graveyard of the Holocaust and to start seeing it as a potential new site of Jewish life.”

My intention is in no way to demean the memory of the Shoah or trivialize the real pain of people for whom Poland does signify horror and destruction. The seething distaste for Poland and the deep wounds that exist are part of a collective post-traumatic stress disorder that is a natural and inevitable response to the greatest genocide every committed. And we must continue to teach our youth both the horrific facts of the Holocaust and its universal and eternal lessons, lest we ever forget.

But at the same time, we must be careful not to create an unhealthy cult of death and decay. We need to constantly make the prophetic choice of choosing life.

And I saw Jewish life aplenty in Poland – life that has given me great hope for the regeneration of Jewish culture and Jewish continuity, not only in Europe, but right here in South Africa.

David Jacobson is the executive director of the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies and is an advisor to the International Nahum Goldmann Fellowship that operates out of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture in New York. He is also an active member of The Jewish Diplomatic Corps and is passionate about Jewish continuity.

Find this commentary on the web at:
http://ejewishphilanthropy.com/are-we-guilty-of-gross-prejudice-towards-poland/

40 comments:

  1. Reprinted with permission from whom?

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  3. Dan -- I wrote to the person who sent me the article and asked permission to post it here.

    She wrote back and said it was okay.

    If the material belongs to you and you don't want it here, just let me know. I am happy to remove it.

    I'm heading out now but will be back later.

    Thanks.

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  5. This is a very thought-provoking article. Pre-WWII Polish Jewry indeed had a rich heritage.

    I have read and reviewed nearly 40 books on pre-WWII Polish Jewry, and you can see them by clicking on my name in this specific posting.

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  6. I note this comment: "The seething distaste for Poland and the deep wounds that exist are part of a collective post-traumatic stress disorder that is a natural and inevitable response to the greatest genocide every committed. And we must continue to teach our youth both the horrific facts of the Holocaust and its universal and eternal lessons, lest we ever forget."

    Poles too were marked down for genocide. Hitler said: "I have sent my Death's Head units to the East in order to kill without mercy men, women and children of the Polish race or language."

    Hitler and Stalin, working together, invaded and occupied Poland, and began to kill without mercy. That was pretty traumatic. Then, having fought back and made a valuable contribution to the defeat of Hitler, Poles were brutally betrayed the moment the war was over, and we have been vilified ever since.

    So we too have been through an unimaginably deep trauma, especially those of my father's generation. And, for us, the vilification (at the hands of the most powerful media on the earth) continues to this day. But does that entitle me to feel "a seething distaste" for people, and to vilify them on every occasion.

    I hope I don't!

    Our Creator, the God of Abraham, has taught us that love "does not keep account of the injury". And I am so grateful for that teaching. It helps me to deal with this in the right way. It is His law that I want to live by, not the way of the world.

    And the silver lining of all this hatefulness directed towards Poland is that it does make God's beautiful, perfect, loving law shine brighter and brighter - it truly is a beacon in a very dark world.

    And it has also underlined for me the value of staying neutral and keeping out of the world and its factions and its fightings.

    So all I really need to do - all any of us (the children of Adam) need to do - is to trust in the God of Abraham with all our heart, and not let the world pressure us or upset us into behaving the way it does.

    And this is a good reminder to me that, when I do speak of Russians and Germans, I must take care to speak in a positive and an upbuilding way. They too suffered terribly during and after WW2. Both sides did dreadful, ungodly things. Ever since I have been taught by the congregation, I have been learning to keep "the law of loving kindness" on my tongue, but, as a fatally flawed child of disobedient Adam, I have many failures and need all the reminders I can get. So thanks for posting Danusha.

    Yet another interesting one. Where do you find them all?

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  7. ///This has created dangerous prejudices and stereotypes (generalisations of an entire people); ironically these stereotypes are of the very same ilk that was the thought-generators of the rampant racism that laid the foundation for the genocide that took place during the Shoah. We brand the Polish people as ‘brutes’ and ‘eternal antisemites’ and we send tour after tour of young Jews to the death camps and they march defiantly through Poland, blinkered to the multitude of memorials to Jewish history and Jewish life and legacy that literally litter the streets of Warsaw and Krakow. By doing this, we are not only perpetuating a cruel bigotry, but we are also cheating these young Jews of a remarkable opportunity for Jewish growth and regeneration.

    THANK YOU,AT LEAST SOMEBODY NOTICED THIS BITTER IRONY!!!! To add s.th- after having read Fania Fanelons biography (about the female orchestra at Auschwitz,in which she curses constantly,to to point of wanting to kill them, her Polish co-inmates,while describing people like Maria Mandl and Mengele in shining colours-read it for yourself....) and Primo Levi I think it might have s.th to do with the human psyche,like,as macabre as it may sound, some kind of Stockholm Syndrome or the human tendency to forget the good people have done to you and a general adulation of power? I think it would be great if psychologist could try to make sense of this disturbing tendency to accuse Poles of things they had no hand in-in order to help everyone.

    ///the ubiquitous “Lucky Jew” in both figurine and poster
    Hmm,my mom had always been very interested in Judaism,oh, an Israel. We even went to celebrate Israels 50th anniversary. About the "Lucky Jew"-we also have 2-3 of them,in our home.To be honest, my family and I NEVER thought about them as,lets say "being greedy",if "being good with money" is a bad thing (Goska,in Your book You have actually mentioned the historical fact that landowners often employed Jewish people to manage their estates,because they had the knack with regards to accounting...),isnt it the same thing as the prejudice that Asians are good at maths? In every prejudice there is some truth (mostly,truth about the one holding them),I think it lies in the eye of the beholder ;-). Also,there is this thing with fans of football teams in certain cities (Łódź and Kraków) who call their rivals "Jews".Some time ago I made a conscious decision to become a fan of a Polish football team.Guess what? I choose the one being called "Jews" by their rivals (given my family history of philosemitism,no wonder I guess)-these fans are proud to be "Jews"-Ive even saw a huge linen being shown during a match by ultras with the outlines of a city and,written beneath it, "Tel Aviv" :-D. These people are (nearly all of them) no anti-Semites, and it bothers me that this is used against us Poles (even the head rabbi of Poland has,on several occasions, explained to West European media that this is NOT anti-Semitism,but,as the West is poisoned by political correctness AND a rising number of anti-Semitic hate-crimes,this was to no avail)

    ///“The most important thing we can do is stop seeing Poland simply as a graveyard of the Holocaust and to start seeing it as a potential new site of Jewish life
    Absolutely.Western Europe,while certainly being very PC, has a rising number of real-life violence directed at people of Jewish faith.Poland is a safe haven (as it has been during medieval ages),I hope there will be a movement some day to go back to Poland :-)

    ///And I saw Jewish life aplenty in Poland
    Yes,because, if there were not any the German Nazis would have won.This,we absolutely can not allow to happen.

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  8. Dan emailed me and asked me who gave me permission to repost this article.

    I responded to his email and await a reply from him.

    If he owns the article (he is apparently not the author) and he wants it removed I will remove it.

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  9. I received an email from Dan Brown confirming that he gives permission for the above article to be on the blog, so all is well.

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  10. Goska, I agree that mostly Poles would have to stand up-but I am afraid that the komuna (Moskow-imposed communism) has partly killed our national soul (and economy).It will be a hard way for the Polish nation to regain its former strenght.As to who is to blame-I personally think,that,if s.o,for example the writer of "The painted bird",is spreading anti-Polish resentment (and later ist made to apologize and reminded that actually he was SAVED himself by his Catholic compatriots) than this specific person is also to blame.

    Anonymous,I agree about the "being proud thing"- because just to feel part of s.th because otherwise one feels ashamed is a terrible reason to do anything.I just overlooked it on purpose because I have become so accustomed to reading anti-Polish hateful smears f.e on The Times of Israel by,mostly American-Jews (given the historical fact that American Jewry failed its brothers and sisters in religion during the Holocaust,this might be some kind of projection) that s.th more positive just warms my heart very much. As to Magda-this proofs how much we need an education cleansed of everything stemming from the komuna times,one that emphesizes pride in Polish history,especially with regards to tolerance,progress (f.e Polish women had all rights Western European women had to wait in parts until the early 70s!!! homosexuality was decriminalized nearly 40 years earlier than f.e in Germany and Norway) and humanity (f.e the efforts to save people of Jewish faith).

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  11. As to Jewish people-I would like them,as the author has pointed out,to stop seeing Poland as a nightmare (created by the Nazi Germans,it cant be stressed enought). I hope that, if one day life becomes unbearable (just yesterday,in Berlin, a rabbi was beaten up on the streets my "Germans of immigrant background"=Arabs,who also threatend his daughter) s.o will stand up and say-hey,lets go to Poland! :-) The Jewish communities in Poland will be very pleased,and perhaps could be rebuild not only in Warsaw and Cracow but also f.e in Poznan and Lodz.

    This reminds me of a German one time that told me that now that Poland is a democracy it is time to learn from the Germans how they have made theirs work so well......

    I have heared on several occasions Germans (younger ones,actually) babbling on and bragging about their "Vergangenheitsbewältigung" (overcoming of the past-how accurate a description-btw, it excludes murdered Slavs and Gypsies) and that Poland should od the same thing for-the Germans,who had to leave Poland after WW2-they just dont get that each and every situation is NOT the same...But,its not only Germans,the BBC "documentary" "Stadions of hate" proofed that we are what Africans were to Western Europeans in the 19th century-barbarians in dire need of them,the,uhm,"enlightened" showing us how to do stuff.Its rascism and narcissism in the guise of "anti"-rascism,nothing else (spiked magazine even ask,tongue in cheek "are Ukrainians the new untermenschen?).And they want to teach us things they themselves condem as "not working" like multi-culturalism)

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  12. Judaism is an invented ethnocentric religion - the lack of proselytizing gives that away
    As a scolar of religious studies I have to say-partly ("invented"? I have to digress) yes and no. Ethnocentric? Partly, most religions (like Native American religions,shintoism,animism) are linked to a small number of people,like a tribe-thus "ethnocentric".Still, there were periods of proselytizing-and yes,there is the idea that people can become Jewish- in the Jewish Bible a women from Moabit,Ruth, swears to stand by the Jewish people thus becoming a Jew by choice.The reason why Judaism mostly stopped active proselytizing is mostly owened to the fact that it was brutally impaired by the new Christian state.Also, Jews do not believe that you have to be Jewish to be given the same reward for being good in the "World to come".

    What are we going to have soon? "Non-black Poles"?
    Oh, thats fine...As long as it has a "....-Pole" part :-D thats all that counts.

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  13. I too have got used to all this nastiness Hanna. And truly Psalm 37 gives us not only the perfect advice on how to handle it, but also assures us - all of us children of Adam - a rescue, if we will accept it. I can't tell you how grateful I am to the true God, the God of Abraham.

    And let's face it, if "the world" were constantly telling us how wonderful us Poles/Polonians are, then we could be sure we were doing something wrong.

    By the way, Jews do proseletyse. Remember that the first members of the Christian congregation were all Jewish, as are all the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures. And followers of Christ are going door to door worldwide to this day, telling all who will listen the good news about the incoming Kingdom of God.

    Which gives me a feeling of guilt as I haven't been able to do a lot myself this summer owing to my arthritis...

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  14. Also, the current Polish government does,apparently,NOT REALIZE the damage it is doing to Polish reputation with the endorsement of a heavily anti-Polish book called „Inferno of Choices“ (written by s.o with a,er,murky past as a communist)-dont believe me? use a Website that translates whole websites and check this article in German,also,check the comments!!! You will loose faith in humanity,very likely-it proofs perfectly a point Goska is making in her book-the transfer of blame from Germany onto----countries that have suffered immensely under Nazi German tyranny-http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/polens-rolle-im-holocaust-die-wahrheit-schwarz-auf-weiss-11851564.html

    Some points made: Polands role in in the Holocaust-it suggests that mainly the "right" is angry (Im not right-wing,but I am angry nethertheless).It admits that there was a Zegota,but still,Jews were often denunciated and sold out (bottomline,whatever you did,it sxcked nethertheless).I agree with the "bad Polish right-winger"-the world knows about Oskar Schindler,but NO ONE knows about the awesome Irena Sendler (one of my personal heroes)-this is indeed a failure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.I agree-the Germans KNOW what they are doing,like enlisting the criminal opportunist Stauffenberg (an opportunist,vile anti-Semite,anti-Slav,anti-Gypsy,anti-democrat,ultra-nationalist-I am not making this up,check for yourselves!) as a "hero"-he is starring in a movie,not the real-life hero Witold Pilecki.Ah yes,and this article is also speculating why the Polish Foreign Ministry is publishing s.th that damaging to Polands reputation (yes,it seems that they too think this is incredibly not smart)-because they want to calm amongst others the Jewish World Congress who is demanding indemnities and want to proof that Poland is able to fight its past demons ect. Countries with intelligent foreign policy like,lets say,Denmark, are downplaying what,eh,is not very laudable (like the Danish SS) and emphasizing the rescue of Jews (but, the situation was far easier for rescue,Danes were not untermenschen to be extermined,Sweden was neutral and reachable by rafts during good weather)-Effects? everyone likes the Danes.And Lego,of course. Poland does.....nothing,plus the opposite.Effets? Poles have to bear smears,and lest we forget-its called "character assassination" for a reason.

    I apologize for my rant-things like this make me loose faith.

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  15. Hello Hanna, this is all just politics - and politics is a pretty nasty business it seems to me. The silver lining for me is that it all helps me to be "no part" of the world, as our Creator asks us to be. I take no part in politics, don't vote, try to stay neutral, and try not to let the attitudes of "the world" either rub off on me, or pressure me into behaving the way it does.

    So please don't lose faith in Jehovah. Think how lovely and perfect his standards are. For example, while "the world", via its most powerful media and academe, is pressuring me to denounce and despise my father because he was Polish, the God of Abraham tells me to love and to honour him.

    As I loved both my parents very much, that is what I want to do. So this draws me to God, and away from "the world".

    Please let it do the same for you.

    And remember that this present system of things on the earth is about to be destroyed. Not a vestige of it will be left. So don't let it get to you too much.

    If you want to talk to me Hanna, Dr.Goska has my email address, and she is welcome to give it to you if you want it. I must tell you though that I am a Jehovah's Witness, as I know that many people would not want to talk to me because of that.

    But truly, the teaching from the Inspired Scriptures, both Hebrew and Christian Greek, can help us to deal with everything, perfectly. And stay calm and happy.

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  16. Hanna, no need to lose faith. Rather, take action.

    Here's a place to start:

    http://bieganski-the-blog.blogspot.com/2011/11/crisis-in-polonian-leadership.html

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  17. By the way, is there a terrible pun in the headline of this blog - given Professor Jan Gross and his lauded and applauded trilogy about how horrible all us Poles are?

    And, yes, Hanna, Dr.G and I have different ideas about how to tackle this, but we both see the wrongness of it, and the nasty politics behind this continued vilification of all things Polish. If you read Danusha's book about the stereotype, "Bieganski", you will find those politics discussed, and they are chilling. But I would always add my usual warning - please read Psalm 37 before, during and after reading - as an antidote to the poisonous politics that Danusha has bravely and lucidly written about.

    Our Creator - Jehovah, the God of Abraham, the true God, has promised us that He will deal with the situation on earth.

    For example, Daniel 2:44 says: “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite."

    The incoming Kingdom of God will put an end to the terrible era on the earth in which Satan, and imperfect men, have been in charge. We will have a perfect, loving heavenly government ruling over us.

    But given that this whole system of things is to be destroyed, isn't it very important to stand clear - to be "no part" of the world?

    I do try to tackle a Polish media issue a month - usually by pointing out the increasingly blatant double standards. Its also a good way to witness, as it all seems yet another a powerful illustration of how true the Inspired Scriptures are.

    The Bible tells us that "the father of the lie" is in charge of the present system of things. And how else could the history of WW2 be so revised within living memory of the events?

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  18. Whenever something went wrong, if a computer crashed or a meal was late, the standing response was: “It’s Poland.”

    Oh,overlooked that.You.got.to.be.kidding.me. Danusha,could You perhaps, as the author to,I don't know, share some more thoughts about this topic? Because it s.th young Poles get CONSTANTLY annoyed with,worse,by means of internet,this sickness is spreading around the world,but not...young Germans. I am also thinking from a religious angle,as a Polish rabbi told me once-blaming Poland is a sin,because it is the equivalent of lying-why aren't more people feeling like this? Also,I would like to know if he thinks that,if Poland would pay the f.e World Jewish Congress would start speaking in bright colours of Poland and making some good advertisement for Poland-cynical,I know, but I am wondering (who's secretary general,Isaac Singer,once said:

    In 1996, the Reuters news agency reported that at a meeting of the WJC congress in Buenos Aires, Singer said "[m]ore than three million Jews died in Poland and the Polish people are not going to be the heirs of the Polish Jews. We are never going to allow this.... They're gonna hear from us until Poland freezes over again. If Poland does not satisfy Jewish claims it will be publicly attacked and humiliated."[2] This was perceived as another threat, but this time against Poland)

    This is NOT about about individual claims,by the very owners or their children. The WJC suggested that Poland should just pay (sorry,right now,I am not able to find the article were it is explicitly stated so)
    them the money,into trust funds they will manage on behalf of the,right now, non-existant Jewish communities.An idea unheard of in other countries,as far as I know.Than,there are niceties such as this here,by members of this groups.

    Rosensaft stated earlier this week that the Jewish community "should stop injecting tourist and other dollars into the Polish economy," prompting a wave of controversy.
    Poland will not pay,as we dont have that kind of money-Poland would collaps under such a burden right now.No one seems to care.Which caused another uproar,and accusations of "anti-Semitism", "having benefited form the "nazi" crimes","Poles were no innocent bystanders,look at Jedwabne or Kielce...". Funny, some people are behaving as a caricature of the "greedy Jew".Probably because they know that they will get away with it,sadly.




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    1. Witaj Hanno,
      Property of polish citizens who died without heirs belongs to the state. Tribal or religious membership is irrelevant. Descendants could reclaim their property if they have proper documents. If such property still exists. And if its located on polish territory.
      I find that cherry picking (Jedwabne, Kielce) to be very unfair. It can be used against every nation. Are Hiroshima and Nagasaki proofs that Americans are racist, genocidal monsters? Threats to mankind very existence? And they deserve to have 9.11 every day till the world ends? Of course not.

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    2. Lukasz:

      "I find that cherry picking (Jedwabne, Kielce) to be very unfair. It can be used against every nation. Are Hiroshima and Nagasaki proofs that Americans are racist, genocidal monsters?"

      I don't agree with the "cherry picking" argument.

      It comes across as a way to avoid confrontations with dark history or toxic cultural products. I address this in chapter one of "Bieganski" and in that book I offer my own approach, which is not the "cherry picking" argument.

      Also, the argument that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are proof that Americans are racist and genocidal monsters would work for anti-American loons and no one else.

      America did not attack Japan; Japan attacked the US. America wanted peace and would have accepted Japan's surrender at any time before the bombing. Comparing the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the Kielce pogrom is morally objectionable. Jews did not declare war on Poland. Jews did not bomb Poland. These two events are not comparable.

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    3. Maybe "Hiroshima and Nagasaki" was a bad argument. I forgot about context. But what can be comparable? Rosewood massacre (1923)? Wounded Knee massacre (1890)?
      Americans come to my country like missionaries. Uneducated, without basic knowledge of language and history. And yet, so overconfident, so sanctimonious. They try to civilize "poor Polish anti-semites". And they pull out this Jedwabne horror story. Proof that there was something in polish mothers milk.
      They belittle Poles who saved Jews ("why so few?"). And claim that we all profited from Holocaust.
      And they return home beliving that they made Poles a better men. By humiliating us.
      And all we can do is to listen all those "truths" because it's rude to correct someone from America. Land of the free. Land of the brave.

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    4. Lukasz, thank you for your reply

      Forgive me but I will repeat myself.

      I reject the cherry picking argument. It is intellectually unsatisfying. It reflects an unwillingness to think long and hard and deeply about the topic. It is flip and quick. It is a soundbite.

      It is not my argument.

      My argument can be found in "Bieganski," on this matter, specifically, the introduction.

      Lukasz, you wrote: And all we can do is to listen all those "truths" because it's rude to correct someone from America. Land of the free. Land of the brave.

      This is not true. There is much that Poles and Polonians can do, none of which Poles or Polonians are doing now. What we can do is outlined in the three-part blog post entitled "The Crisis in Polonian Leadership, Organization, and Vision."

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  19. Also, Danusha,great idea, but I am not living in the US...What I am trying to do is to be an ambassador of Poland to where I live. Which is not easy,very often-some time ago I ran into a self-hating Polish women in a shop who accused the shop owner of being "an anti-Semite" (because he had a beautiful painting of a Jewish men wearing a skullcap and counting coints.No,this is NOT anti-Semitism,as his friend, a Jewish Pole,has stated some time ago...for him,its a way to reconnect in some way with Polands Jewish heritage) and me of being one,too. Because I told her that I don't like how Michnik has behaved lately (dragging his critics into courtrooms on a regular basis,such as Rymkiewicz or Ziemkiewicz),or what Blumsztajn or Graff (all 3 are atheists and thus,in my book,less "Jewish" than I am a Catholic...) are writing or saying-yes,to this crazy hag, normal criticism has become "anti-Semitism".I told her,if this was so,I will try harder to convert.Than I will be,apparently,free to do whatever I want without greater negatie consequences...I am just joking,of course, but self-hating people like this are as harmful as self-hating Jewish people are to the existence of Israel.Acutally,she was not talking,she was hurling verbal abuses at both of us,than said that the "Germans are right to hate Turks" and than she ran off. We Poles unfortunately have not only enemies from within but also from without...





























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    1. Hanna, taking it upon yourself to be a good will ambassador shows that you have good intentions, but organization is a force multiplier and a safeguard against burnout.

      Just two of many reasons Poles and Polonians should organize.

      We sabotage ourselves by refusing to do so.

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  20. I agree....I think, and I am saying this in a neutral way, we should try to copy Jewish organizations.The problem to achieve this lies very deep,probably what we need first are some leaders conscient of Polish nationhood,who need to do the same thing their predecessors did during the 19th century-to raise up the Poles spirit,will to fight,self-confidence and cohesion.Jan Paul II was such a leader,who lifted Polands spirit.We need the same thing today,perhaps in a secular form (Rafal Ziemkiewicz is speaking frequently about this phenomenon-the need to,one again,rebuild the Polish people as a nation).its a tricky problem-how to overcome the fact that Poles (who objectively hail from a great nation) feel ashamed while Germans,French,British (those latter two have abnominable histories of colonial abuse in Africa) and so on feel great about themselves? This problem holds true for the rest of the former Soviet-occupied countries as well...

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    1. I was curious how Polish Jews (or Jewish Poles) feel living in Poland. And I've found this page. The link is below. I hope that You will find this interesting. I sure did.
      http://www.jewishjournal.com/index_new.php/jewrnalism/item/nahum_goldmann_fellowship_how_unconfortable_can_you_feel_in_poland_2012072

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  21. Hello Hanna, and all, please bear in mind that a lot of effort has gone in to demoralising Poles and Polonians. Its bound to have an effect as it has come from the most powerful media and academe in the world.

    But, as I am a Christian, trying to be a footstep follower of Christ (in my imperfect, child of Adam, way), its an aid for me in being "no part" of the world. The more nasty the world is, the more it repels me, the more i want to stay away from it.

    Re tackling this in a political way, I do understand Dr.Goska's point. And i note that "the world" rewards those who pull back into their tribal group and fight for their own tribe.

    But where is that going to end? Everyone turning on each other? And given the strength of the political agenda against us, will any serious attempts at organising be neatly sabotaged at leadership level?

    In fact, has that already happened?

    There is a true refuge for everyone who wants it - within the Christian congregation - one loving family, made up of people from "all tribes and nations and tongues".

    For example, did Christians in Germany turn on their Christian brothers and sisters in Poland when Hitler told them they were "unter" and must be exterminated?!

    Of course they did not. They would not even "Heil" Hitler, let alone join his Nazi party, his army or his Gestapo.

    Jehovah, the true God, the God of Abraham, is a true refuge.

    And I think the most powerful way to counter this campaign of vilification is to go door to door with the Bible, trying to get people to see what it really says. Its message has a power like no other.

    I also try to tackle at least one Polish media issue a month. Both Danusha and I belong to a Polish Media Issues group on Facebook, and we have had some successes. And for me it is an occasion to witness, as aren't we clearly seeing "the father of the lie" in action, just as the Inspired Scriptures warn?

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    1. Sue Knight wrote:

      "Re tackling this in a political way, I do understand Dr.Goska's point. And i note that "the world" rewards those who pull back into their tribal group and fight for their own tribe.

      But where is that going to end? Everyone turning on each other? And given the strength of the political agenda against us, will any serious attempts at organising be neatly sabotaged at leadership level?"

      I have never "pulled back and fought for my own tribe" or "turned on each other" and I have never recommended that anyone else do so.

      Sue, if you attempt to post material in the future that attributes things to me that I have not said I will not post them.

      Delete
  22. But there was an "and" there.

    I said I understood your points about what we might achieve if we organised. Then I noted, as an addition to that thought, that "the world" (not you Danusha) does reward those who pull back into their tribal groups and fight for their own tribe. And therefore isn't it encouraging us to do so?

    My thought about where it will all end is speculative - my own speculation, not anybody's elses. As far as I know you have never written or spoken on that subject.

    But in any case, when i say that the world is rewarding tribal behaviour, I assume it will only reward it for those groups than have PC-protection. How, therefore, to avoid sabotage at leadership level given that we have negative PC-protection?

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  23. Witaj,Łukaszu,

    GREAT article.I agree-the Polish government does NOTHING to promote a positive image of Poland. There Germans, on the other hand, are very adept in conveying their blame onto us.Also, they want to heal us of our "anti-Semitism" (if you start to see psychopathy here, You are not wrong at all).We need to stand up,everyone of us.And hope/pray/vote for a new government.Personally, I think the one of Kaczyński (whom I would not support each and every time) was the best govenment Poland had in 20 years.Also, he was very philosemitic and did very much for Jewish Poles and Polish-Israeli relationship. may G-d grant us a good government,and the sarcasm to take on anti-Polonism.

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  24. So, as Dr G. has told us in yet another lucid blogpost, there is a big problem at leadership level... Yes.

    I know that the Biblical solution can seem a bit like the moment in one of the Alice books - is it "Alice Through The Looking Glass"? - (what a wonderful book by the way, so perfectly describing the logical inconsequentiality of a dream) - anyway, lit crits aside, the moment in which one of the creatures tells Alice that to get to where she wants to go, she has to walk in what appears to be the opposite direction.

    In asking us to be "no part" of the world of politics, in the face of this tsunami of vilification from the world of politics, it may seem that the Bible is doing the same thing.

    But bear in mind, that when Alice took the advice, she got to where she wanted to go. And I can only say that I am finding that being "no part" of the world is the perfect path, making me so happy now, in that I feel protected; and its one that will lead me to "the land of straightforwardness" - a world without politics, a world in which nature is no longer "red in tooth and claw with ravine", an earth ruled by the law of loving-kindness, which is where I long to be.

    And I think it has made me much more effective when tackling Polish media issues. I now know what to say and how to say it.

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  25. This article really is a keeper - so thanks again Dr.G. for finding and posting.

    Two more things:

    "And we must continue to teach our youth both the horrific facts of the Holocaust and its universal and eternal lessons, lest we ever forget."

    But all that seems to have been learnt from all this memorialising is that it is fine to "unter" others, to vilify them and try to make them despised. If there any lessons to be learnt, I would have hoped that it might have been the opposite one.

    Also if any lessons had been learnt, could The Crusades have been restarted?

    Secondly, there is this: "Professor David Shneer, an expert in post-Soviet Eastern European Jewish communities, explained: “The most important thing we can do is stop seeing Poland simply as a graveyard of the Holocaust and to start seeing it as a potential new site of Jewish life.”

    This is what I mean by tribalism. And please note I am not saying that is what you are advocating Danusha. If I have understood you right, you are saying that this is a political problem and Poles/Polonians, as a community, need to organise an effective political solution.

    I agree with you, very much, that it is a political problem. We just have different ideas about effective solutions (IF I have understood you right).

    But why does Poland need to be seen in this way? Did Polish history begin and end with WW2. It wouldn't occur to me that I have a right to judge Israel on how it treats its Polish population, and that everything it does and says should be seen through a filter of Polishness.

    I don't have a right to judge others, full stop.

    So my worry is that "the world" is trying push us in this direction.

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  26. I wish I could have a done a Ph.D. under Dr. Goska's supervision. At a prestigious university, where her work would have been fully recognized. If wishes were fishes...

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  27. My own thought is that Dr.G should have been employed by a prestigious media outlet to review books and movies, full time. Her chapter on Hollywood in "Bieganski" is a brilliant analysis of how the propaganda machine works.

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  28. Very interesting article (although it does not add much to Your research,dear Danusha)

    http://rebelya.pl/post/2497/ewa-thompson-o-kolonizacji-europy-srodkowej

    ReplyDelete

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