Sunday, January 6, 2013

"There Should Be No Tolerance for Enemies of Tolerance." Sebastian Rejak Guest Blog Post

Source: Medieval Panda Photography

Sebastian Rejak is the author of Jewish Identities in Poland and America: The Impact of the Shoah on Religion and Ethnicity.  He has been kind enough to offer the following blog post, below.

Recently Mr. Rejak and I were discussing comments appearing in the comment section of the blog.

Comment moderation criteria are here. Comment moderation is imperfect.

I strive not to edit comments for substance. I regularly post material with which I do not agree. My reasons for doing so are here.

I reproduce Sebastian Rejak's response because I think it makes for interesting food for thought. I will continue to allow those with whom I disagree to post blog comments, if the posters otherwise adhere to criteria. My comment moderation will continue to be imperfect. I really do think "jaw jaw is better than war war."

Here is Sebastian Rejak's response:

***

I took the time to read the guidelines for guests wishing to have their comments posted on the blog. Comment moderation criteria they are called.

"Your comment is more likely to be posted if: Your comment includes a real first and last name. … Your comment uses Standard English spelling, grammar, and punctuation."

One might infer from that that not mentioning one's name or using "non-standard" English spelling, punctuation etc., could make it less likely for one's comment to be posted. What should one think of the punctuation (not to mention the coherence and sense) of a comment like this one:

"(interestingly, homosexuals don't care about African or Arab countries.at all. and Blacks don't even care about a Black being voted into the Sejm.or the low rate of rascist crime in Poland)- this is strange. Im wondering if the persecuted have become perpetrators? Perhaps You can make s.th out of this idea-like, I don't know, if f.e formerly persecuted groups can use the Bieganski/Bohunk stereotype to boost their newly found egos?"

I assume "f.e" stands for "e.g."… (haven't found it here though: http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/f.e) But, more importantly, what the sense of putting "homosexuals, African and Arab people, Blacks, the Sejm, the persecuted and perpetrators" in a comment? I fail to understand.

I have read all the comments in this blog's section on "Poland: A Living Deathscape of Diaspora Jewry". Probably an extremely interesting book – the eye-catching title indicated it would be a good read. What kind of comments do you get in this section? This:

"Or is the Polish government in some kind of Targowica-like secret agreement with those who would abuse Poland for their own ends?

These people, Radek and friends, will not do anything about Poland being defamed and pushed around? Why? Because that would be 'chauvinistic', so old-fashioned. They want to be 'modern'.  They believe that critizising ones own country all the time is in and of itself 'modern'.Western leftist elites say so. They have very low self-esteem.   These 'elites' are not true elites, ones, that deserve to be at the top. These 'elites' are the creatures of Soviet social-engineering. These people and their children and their children, they knew/know that they are not legit as elites.Them being 'elites' rested on Moskow, towards which they had an inferiority complex.  about Radek Sikorski-he just had no time to promote Your insightful book. He had to promote his wives books,f.e a book on cooking  -They do not understand the term 'national interest' 'national reputation' 'patriotism'.  Lets hope the next foreign minister will be different.If you can vote-plz vote for a better option.  restitution for heirless or communal property which, according to normal law all over the world, was inherited by the Polish/other nation This is where the Holocaust Industry comes in. They come to Poland with deep pockets and claim, with no legal basis whatsoever, that they are 'owed' compensation [actually, tribute] on behalf of all the murdered Jews, since the Holocaust was 'special'. Since this has no legal basis whasoever, they are willing to resort to extortion. They want to so shame Poland, through defamation, that the weak-willed Polish government caves in to their demands, and pays them off."

Nothing of the above is my invention. These are actual comments.

I've been called someone who "sounds elitist," someone who might asses others as "low class people like those lumpen proletariat who read and comment on the blog" and "recommend[s]" elitism.

[Danusha Goska here – I confess that it was I who alleged that Mr. Rejak's criticisms sounded elitist to me, and it sounded to me as if he were assigning blog posters to a lower class status. I apologize for offending him but I continue to be concerned about an approach that divides people up into "those worth talking to" and "those not worth talking to," into "those who are allowed to post" and "those who are not allowed to post." But I should shut up now, as this is his guest blog post! Mr. Rejak's blog post continues, below:]

I'm sure some people would call me a leftist, self-hating Pole, someone whose ambition to become a modern European is more important than his duty to be a patriotic Pole. I am none of the above. Nor am I somebody calling those with whom I disagree "lower class" or "lumpenproletariat". I never did that – not on this blog, nor in any other public space.

I think this blog is not about political views, so I will not talk about that. I can only say I grew up in a family where anticommunism was obvious and the word "leftist" was always used as offensive. Which does not mean I would use it today as such. But I certainly am not a leftist, (post)modern, Moscow-and-Brussels loving anti-patriotic Pole devoid of any sense of ethnic identity. On the other hand, I am even more opposed to intolerance, tribalism, chauvinism, nationalism and xenophobia – no matter whether Polish, Jewish, Russian, German or Flemish.

I also do believe in Free Speech and Dialogue. I do.

But I think there are values I deem more important than free speech. These are: respect for other people irrespective of their color and ethnic background.

I could imagine myself running a blog. Of course I would not expect all guests to share my views and to praise whatever I write. Yet I would definitely not publish posts that spread hatred or bigotry. Freedom of speech? – yes, go you all and publish your own blogs and post whatever you like. Sorry for the banal slogan: there should be no tolerance for enemies of tolerance.

It's hard to talk about dialog when some who participates in this dialog claims that others (people who think differently) are unpatriotic, un-Polish, are enemies of Poland, harm her and mis-serve her. I would not post comments for example by this priest who delivered a sermon on Saturday to participants of "The Fifth National Patriotic Soccer Fans' Pilgrimage" at Jasna Gora (Czestochowa). He said for example that they are the group that is today "the most discriminated against in Poland" and that they follow the values of Catholicism and patriotism and that they are paying a high price for "publicly expressing their views". Yes, if those views mean inciting to violence or hatred ("Śmierć garbatym nosom" – death to hooked noses; "White Power"; "Jihad Legia") they may face court trials, which they deserve. The priest also praised football team supporters for their "traditional attitude to the question of tolerance" – I bet that means "traditionally tolerance is no good". The pilgrimage ended with the fans shouting: "Precz z komuną", "A na drzewach zamiast liści będą wisieć komuniści", "Sierpem i młotem czerwoną hołotę". Most of them do not even remember how everyday life under communism "tasted." They want to become teachers of Polishness, patriotism, traditional catholic values.

On my blog there would be no place for comments for people who dream about Poland being a fortress and Poles being turned into medieval warriors fighting all who differ from them. But yes, you're free to preach what you believe in. Just don't use my name.

Of course, this is your blog, not mine.

Not all diaglo will be fruitful. I do not consider myself a member of an elite. All my grandparents were peasants. I myself lived in a village till I was 7. My parents are both university graduates but that does not make them elite people. Also, I do not think I am "elitist" just because I find it hard to discuss with people who believe my values are worthless or that my values are corrupt and antipatriotic. Even if we share the same ethnic background and share the same pain because of Poland being unjustly and excessively criticized, we differ on a lot more things: what they consider treason I consider decency and pragmatic steps taken to enhance Poland's image internationally; what they consider patriotism I consider chauvinism and ideology rooted in 19th century nationalism (we no longer live in partitioned Poland); what they consider love for Poland I consider hate speech and xenophobia. When they say: "if you want to read more on Endek ideology – but of course not the bad things some people attribute to it, wink-wink, nudge-nudge – click here" – I say Endecja bears responsibility for the darkest pages in Poland's interwar period. I could write a lot about those who boast being Dmowski's disciples today and see no problems with publicly commemorating Eligiusz Niewiadomski – the man who assassinated president Narutowicz in December 1922. Take ONR, NOP and Młodzież Wszechpolska as examples of that.

TO SUM UP

Danusha, you once wrote: "I realized, people aren't attracted to fascism because of what they think, they are attracted to fascism because of how they feel. I could not communicate to him [a certain Daniel – a facebook poster with fascist symbols on his page] a sense of self-worth and empowerment, a sense of feeling a valued part of a valued human race, via an internet post."

I could say I realize people aren't attracted to right-wing exclusionary views and to thinking of themselves as the only true patriots as a result of long years spent on reading historical and political analyses. This has definitely more to do with how they feel about Poland and Polishness. So, I feel I am unable to communicate to these people that one can be a proud Pole Even if some Poles – all too many Poles – turned out to have been villains (and it's not only about szmalcownicy, Jedwabne and things like that). I'm fine with being a Pole even though I don't think Poles as a nation stand out as either victims or heroes. I don't think we're special, I don't think we're a chosen people (a category I very much dislike in general), and yet I like being a Pole.

In sort, I am not surprised Mr. John Connelly refused to respond to some of the comments posted on this blog. I'm not happy saying that, I'm actually upset. I'm upset, Danusha, because your very interesting and worthwhile blog has been hijacked by people who do not realize that what they are doing is a terrible disservice to the Najjaśniejsza Rzeczpospolita.

55 comments:

  1. Mr Rejak writes:

    "It's hard to talk about dialog when some who participates in this dialog claims that others (people who think differently) are unpatriotic, un-Polish, are enemies of Poland, harm her and mis-serve her."

    Of course, he is right, but the other way around is also true, that people who think differently are labelled as chauvinists, fascists, right-wingers and so on. And frankly, some of them are just those things, but far from everybody.

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  2. Excellent title, though indirect its powerful! Well written, kudos!

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  3. To begin with, who decides what tolerance and intolerance are--much less who to enforce this distinction against?

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  4. Interesting blog post - thanks Sebastian and Danusha. The question for me is how to tackle this, on an individual basis - as I try to stay right out of politics. And, as far as politics goes, given Poland's experience at the hands of both right and left I can't help but hope that more and more Poles/Polonians will be making the same decision.

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  5. Mr. Sebastian Rejak:

    A most penetrating post. Someone really did need to respond to the ugly comments that followed Dr. Goska's post on Israeli trips to Poland, during which one participant placed the words "poor Holocaust survivors" in quotes.

    --Liron Rubin

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    1. It is not penetrating at all - there are dumm posts posted on blogs everyday, the internet is a sea of stupidity. If you have not learned that yet then chances are you are making similarly inane posts. There is no need to "respond" to dumm posts - there is particularly no need to respond by a government official whose own bigoted views, laced with illogical drivel, are quite telling.

      "But I certainly am not a leftist, (post)modern, Moscow-and-Brussels loving anti-patriotic Pole devoid of any sense of ethnic identity. On the other hand, I am even more opposed to intolerance, tribalism, chauvinism, nationalism and xenophobia – no matter whether Polish, Jewish, Russian, German or Flemish.

      Standard English (and one hopes Polish) would suggest that setting "I am even more opposed to" in opposition to something must be preceded by something - the something preceding it does not logically, well, precede, it though. Is the writer also opposed to people who are Brussels-loving? Anti-patriotic Poles? That is not inferrable from the first clause which, indeed, bears no connection to the second - the old saying about glass houses may apply to someone who is offended by the use of the made-up acronym f.e.


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    2. Might be my post- let me explain s.th- I have put it in "" because it was a direct quote from the article I had linked below. In no way was it intended to mock anyone, at all. Had You read my post before You would have realized that it had all been about recompensation funds being partly misused (and not reaching survivors who were stuggling while the money they were entitled to was used for other projects-all this while further compensation was asked for in the name of these "poor Holocaust survivors".

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    3. Hanna, thanks for explaining that. I appreciate it. I honestly didn't read your post before commenting.

      I think your explanation points out how important it is for us to talk to each other.

      You were not trying to be offensive, but your post was read that way. Your explanation causes me to see your post differently. A learning experience.

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  6. Mr. Rejak, thanks for saying these things. I couldn't have put it better myself.

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  7. I think you should take a step back and examine the way you have interpreted the some of the comments on the blog Mr. Rejak. There is some degree of chauvinism present in the comments on this blog but that is not all. The commenters are frustrated with the way they feel Poland and Poles are perceived by others. You admit that Poland is unjustly and excessively criticized yourself. The commenters post their opinions on this matter and through that get a chance to talk about it. Characterizing the commenters of this blog of being tolerant of intolerance is a charge that you have not provided enough evidence for and is problematic. By what standard do you judge what is or is not tolerant. There is no universal agreement as to what constitutes intolerance. Somethings have been agreed upon other have not. You have also stated that you are proud to be a Pole and have trouble communicating to others how this is possible. The problem is that being Polish is seen being guilty of unspeakable crime and a sense of shame. Have you explained to others that it is no shame or crime to be Polish?

    Christoffer Schmitt

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  8. There's a lot going on here and it goes without saying that I can't respond to every post.

    I'll just mention this one quote from Liron Rubin's post:

    "Someone really did need to respond to the ugly comments that followed Dr. Goska's post on Israeli trips to Poland, during which one participant placed the words "poor Holocaust survivors" in quotes"

    If you are going to insult Holocaust survivors, you are going to offend many people.

    Offending many people without making any pertinent point undermines the fight against stereotyping of Poles.

    I hope those who comment will think about that.

    I hope others who are offended by such comments will speak up and say, "That offended me."

    I can't do it every time.

    thank you to anyone reading this who decides to speak up when offensive material is posted.

    Christopher Schmitt wrote:

    "The commenters are frustrated with the way they feel Poland and Poles are perceived by others"

    Yes. People are pained and hurt and they are writing from their pain and hurt.

    We need to remember that, too.

    Again, there is more here than I can possibly comment on. Thank you to those who help keep the conversation pertinent and civil.

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    1. Glad you could join the discussion Danusha. You say: "Offending many people without making any pertinent point undermines the fight against stereotyping of Poles."

      Yes. Absolutely. In fact, I suspect that one of the reasons for the nastiness of this attack is to goad us into behaving badly. But when people are attacked like this, their responses are not always going to be temperate. As you say, when people are pained and hurt, they write from that pain and hurt.

      I always try to keep that in mind and to remember how amazed and hurt I was when I first found out about all this.

      We can safely be reviled, and we are. It almost seems to be de rigeur. How to respond? I can only, again, offer Jesus as the perfect template: "When being reviled, he did not go reviling in return".

      That is a touchstone for me. Always having to allow that I am very much not the perfect human that he was.

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  9. I haven't called any particular PERSON posting on this blog "intolerant". What I mean by "intolerance" is when you say: "if your view about Poland differs from mine - and I define what true patriotism is and what is in the interest of Poland and what's Targowica - then you're not a real Pole, you're rather a pathetic servant of Moscow/Brussels." That's what I consider intolerance. Not to mention stuff like "Poland for Poles." I'm not saying endeks or chauvinists are not Poles - I generally take poeple for what they say they are. So, I don't feel I should prevent anyone from calling themselves Polish even if I may strongly disagree with them on critical issues. I'd appreciate if those who are more to the right than I am could also accept that I am Polish for I so choose and that's my geworfenheit. And I like that.
    Sebastian Rejak

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    1. Sebastian, am I right in thinking that the words "patriotism/patriot" are somehow re-defined when it comes to Poles? Or am I letting all this get to me too much? Only it seems that a Polish patriot is either an Endek, or he/she is someone who exposes how awful we all are, for our own good.

      Normally isn't a patriot someone who loves their country and who fights for it? Although I want to stress again that i am not patriotic - not "my country right or wrong". I could not and would not defend many things Poland has done - including taking part in the current Crusades. I believe that all the kingdoms of the world lie in the power of "the wicked one".

      And if I were patriotic, it would be the UK I would be patriotic about, as it is my homeland in a way no other country can be, and has provided me with those numinous childhood memories - and the amazing welfare state.

      Though I still couldn't defend a lot of what it has done.

      But I deeply dislike all these attempts to make me ashamed of being Polish - to "unter" my dear aged father and me (and all of us). I really dislike this "ubering" and "untering". It is the opposite of the loving, impartial standard set by our Creator, Jehovah, the God of Abraham.

      And, overall, I am very grateful for both my parents, Very grateful I honour the memory of both and hope so much that they will be awoken from the sleep of death one day and that I will see them again. And I am grateful too that my father was Polish. I feel it is one of the things that has helped to open my eyes - in the spiritual sense. And it definitely helps me in my struggle to be "no part" of the world.


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  10. Your definition of intolerance is a good one and by that measure I would say you are right to a degree. The comments have become a bit more charged as of late. I feel like an idiot for not viewing the most recent comments. However there are problems with some of your statements.

    "So, I feel I am unable to communicate to these people that one can be a proud Pole Even if some Poles – all too many Poles – turned out to have been villains (and it's not only about szmalcownicy, Jedwabne and things like that)."

    What impression do you leave with readers with the comment "all too many Poles"? Is too many a majority? If Poles don't stand out then why these four words?

    "I'm fine with being a Pole even though I don't think Poles as a nation stand out as either victims or heroes."

    Neither hero nor victim, but villain maybe?

    Christoffer Schmitt

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  11. Let us refocus this entire discussion by clarifying in what context I had brought up Targowica. To quote myself:

    "I, too, have wondered why the Polish government is so passive in the face of those who would push Poland around. Is it gross incompetency or direlection of duty? Or is the Polish government in some kind of Targowica-like secret agreement with those who would abuse Poland for their own ends?"

    Normally, nations defend their interests. This is clearly not happening here. Notice the fact that I brought up Targowica-like conduct as a POSSIBLE explanation for the fact that the Polish government does nothing about the egregious hate-Poles fests that the Israeli teenagers' visits have largely become--at least according to Jewish author Feldman's book [click on my name]. Clearly, I had left treason an OPEN question, not accusation.

    It therefore seems to me that Sebastian Rejak's comments about the need to be tolerant about "different interpretations of what it means to be a patriotic Pole" are of tangential relevance to the issues that had been discussed up to the time of his blog.

    Finally, Sebastian Rejak states that, "On the other hand, I am even more opposed to intolerance, tribalism, chauvinism, nationalism and xenophobia – no matter whether Polish, Jewish, Russian, German or Flemish." Why, then, has he said nothing so far about these very things in the Israeli teenagers' visits to Poland?

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  12. When I encounter a blog post, or comment which is anti-polish, I like to have the chance to counter it, to try to change that person's opinion, to present my side. If I am denied that chance, I don't like it. As much as I may dislike what some people have to say..."do unto others..." right?

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    1. Evapl, thank you so much for your post. That is exactly how I feel. I want to have the right to speak. How can I deny others that right?

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  13. Magdalena PaśnikowskaJanuary 7, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    What I think: either it's a discussion, or it ain't. Once you start weeding out the "undesirables", you kill the discussion and pretty much start talking to yourself. Even an internet troll can say insightful things / ask thought-provoking questions.

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  14. The pilgrimage ended with the fans shouting: "Precz z komuną", "A na drzewach zamiast liści będą wisieć komuniści", "Sierpem i młotem czerwoną hołotę".

    What's wrong with that? Communists have brutalized Poland for 60 years - I see no problem with hanging reds - does the Polish MFA disagree with the statement "Precz z komuna"? Does that mean the Minister of Foreign (how apt is that!) Affairs has now put up a "Strefa Komunizowana" sign on the way to his estate?

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  15. This is a reply from Sebastian Rejak:

    The question of patriotism first. I consider myself to be a Polish patriot. That does not mean, however, that I would defend anything that is labeled Polish. I see the Polish nation not as a group that is defined exclusively by ethnicity (and religion) but first and foremost by language and by culture. But the Polish language is not a monolith; it includes words in Russian, Czech, Ukrainian, German, Yiddish, French, Dutch, and of course Latin (and lately also English).

    In my family we use sometimes Russian words (specifically my grandparents did). Some of the tools' names I first learned in German - that's probably because my paternal grandfather worked as a slave laborer in a German mine in 1942-45. He then served in the American army (near Ruselshiem) till 1946, when he returned to Poland to become soon an aviation mechanic.

    I remember him say a few times: "The only good thing Hitler did was..." - you know how the sentence ends. He and his wife disliked Jews. And yet I loved them. I think they harbored what I'd call shallow, folk antisemitism (and xenophobia in general) typical of Polish rural areas. Still I never denied the peasant origin of my ancestors. My grandfather taught me to plow and to use a sythe and sharpen it. I remember my grandmother deep fry her best-in-the-world homemade donuts.

    The smell of hay in the summer and smoked homemade saussages, bacon and ham in wintertime - that's part of my Polishness. Just as the literature by Polish-Jewish poets and writers: Tuwim, Brzechwa, Lesmian, Korczak. Films by Ford, Hoffman (Polish-Jewish) Kieslowski (Polish), Stuhr (Polish-German). I love the kitchen show by Robert Maklowicz (Polish-Armenian). So Polish patriotism for me has nothing to do with blood. It's the people with whom you live, who co-create the culture and customs of your country. I don't think endeks or right-wingers have a monopoly on patriotism. Neither do I think only the left-wing illuminati, the enlightened cosmopolites have the right to call themselves patriots (some of them, if not most, mock the very idea of patriotism). If you claim you're Polish and think of yourself as a patriot – that's what you are (unless you belong to the Moscow funded Związek Patriotów Polskich – Wasilewska et consortes – but that goes without saying).

    Just live and let live. And I'd rather patriotism was defined by love rather then by fighting for one's country. We've had too many uprisings – too many (mostly young) lives lost. So if you judge who's patriotic and who's not by asking whether people would be willing to fight and die for their patria, my answer would be: "I'd do anything so that no one in Europe (and worldwide) has to prove love for their country by dying for it and leaving their children orphans."

    Back to Targowica: "Notice the fact that I brought up Targowica-like conduct as a POSSIBLE explanation for the fact that the Polish government does nothing about the egregious hate-Poles fests that the Israeli teenagers' visits have largely become--at least according to Jewish author Feldman's book [click on my name]. Clearly, I had left treason an OPEN question, not accusation."

    If one assumes Polish government's (in)activity can be explained by Targowica-like conduct, even if POSSIBLY, it's like asking: "Aren't they traitors?" Just a question, not a statement. Very smart. You can't prove it? – Formulate it as a question. Isn't this a slander? A POSSIBLE smear? Just an OPEN question.
    You could find more on this topic by reading Mr. Peczkis' review of "Above the Death Pits, Beneath the Flag" at amazon.com. The author says that on p. 267 the book mentions Polish diplomats' protests against examples of anti-Polish propaganda:

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    1. As unpleasant as this must be, Targowica-like conduct must be rationally considered. When a government does so little to defend the image of Poland, one can only wonder. (Of course, some Polish government officials do, but not the Polish government as a whole). Much has also been said about the corruption in the Polish government, and this certainly has the potential of leading to a Targowica-like situation.

      Viewed another way: The Polish government should be doing its job in standing up for Polish interests. This would erase all questions about a latter-day Targowica.

      Finally, there is still no answer to the following: Sebastian Rejak states that, "On the other hand, I am even more opposed to intolerance, tribalism, chauvinism, nationalism and xenophobia – no matter whether Polish, Jewish, Russian, German or Flemish." Why, then, has he said nothing so far about these very things in the Israeli teenagers' visits to Poland?


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  16. Reply continued:

    How many is too many? Does "all too many" mean "most"? One villain is one too many. One szmalcownik is one too many. A few thousand in Warsaw. Many more in other parts of occupied Poland. A few dozen thousand is roughly 1/10 of one percent of the prewar non-Jewish population – still all too many to me. Because their dirty job meant thousands of deaths plus frustrating the risky heroic help of ten times as many Poles who were hiding Jews.

    Frustrated commentators. People are writing from their pain and hurt. I know that and I do not denigrate people just because they are frustrated by anti-Polish bias of all to many mass media worldwide. And talking from one's pain can be a therapeutic experience. It all depends on what you do with your frustration. If you just let it out from you and don't take the pains to work on it, to master it…then it doesn't change much… You remain a frustrated person ready to share your frustration ad infinitum. You don't change your frustrated heart and – even more – you don't change those who offend Poland.

    "There is no universal agreement as to what constitutes intolerance." I doubt there's universal agreement as to what's decent and what's evil. And yet most people strive to be decent. More definitions don't necessarily bring more agreement and/or acceptance.

    "Neither hero nor victim, but villain maybe?" Good question from an attentive reader. I see my words may have left the impression that if we stand out we do so only as villains. Far from that. I think statistically there are no good nations or bad nations. First of all, how do you measure suffering? Or heroism? Or wickedness? In certain times and certain places under particular conditions certain people tend to be more altruistic than others, some tend to be more wicked than others.

    We hear very often: let's turn this page of history over. A month ago I read this: before a page is turned it has to be written. So far we Poles have taken the pleasure in writing about the failed uprisings, the bondage, the partitions, the oppression of russification/ germanization, the blood and tears – all that WE SUFFERED. The pages about how some of us made others suffer AND about the joys we have experiences – we're just starting to write them.
    To be frank, I think this is similarly a chapter in Jewish history that still has to be written…

    One last thing about foreign policy and fighting anti-Polish stereotypes. PR and a promoting a positive image of a given country internationally is soft diplomacy. VERY few countries are successful with it for it costs HUGE money and you can never be sure of the results. Let's have feet on the ground: how can one country force another to change their education system, specifically if what upsets the former happens to be of core importance for the other? The myth of "Holocaust and rebirth" (J. Neusner) is the founding myth of Israel. Diaspora=death and oppression; Israel=life and prosperity. It takes long years, maybe decades, to change these things. Expecting a PM or government officials to force another government to change what we may not like with their education system is wishful thinking. We can delude ourselves into thinking that a harsh stance will change matters overnight. In real life it doesn't work. You simply can't sue the minister of education of a third country for not complying with your vision of history.

    By contrast, using tough language, looking for enemies everywhere, and showing frustration every so often because of anti-Polish narrative doesn't help in fighting the Bieganski stereotype. If anything, it can only confirm that stereotype: "See how brute Polacks get p***** off and lose their temper?" Is that what you want? I think we should learn from others. Do Jews get more friends because some of them are obsessed with tracing antisemitism and accusing just about everyone who disagrees with them of Jew-hatred…?

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  17. There was also an image from the book mentioned above but I don't know how to make that appear.

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  18. "A few dozen thousand is roughly 1/10 of one percent of the prewar non-Jewish population – still all too many to me. Because their dirty job meant thousands of deaths plus frustrating the risky heroic help of ten times as many Poles who were hiding Jews."

    A few dozen thousand is a lot but the percentage suggests that collaboration was far from universal. All too many may be appropriate for you but people read what they want to read and a vague statement gives room for the imagination to take over. 'Ten times as many' disappears when this happens and nuance is impossible from that point.

    "I think statistically there are no good nations or bad nations."

    Is that the way everybody thinks? no. The urge to judge is far to strong to allow for a recognition of human nature.

    "It takes long years, maybe decades, to change these things."

    You are right, but playing the long game requires some results in the mean to gain and keep momentum. That is hard to do when someone else is airing your dirty laundry. All everyone sees is the dirty laundry as there is no room left on the line for anything else.

    Christoffer Schmitt

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    1. I cannot bear responsibility for how everybody thinks. Can you?
      I cannot bear responsibility for what people want to read if what they read is not what I write. Can you?
      I even can't bear responsibility for your picking 3 lines from my long comment. This you can.

      Delete
    2. Yes, the urge to judge is a problem. Once again, surely the truth re WW2 is that both sides did dreadful ungodly things, and neither side has the high moral ground from which to judge the other.

      But the odd thing about the official history of WW2 is how Poland, which fought on the winning side, lost out all round, and is now being blamed for the crimes of the Axis Powers.

      I could hardly object if it was being asked to take its share of the blame for Allied crimes.

      And yes, as you say Dr.G, its how we chose to deal with this. I want to - and try to - deal with it in the way set out in the Inspired Scriptures - and as long as I do that, I can feel positive about it, and it can only upset me momentarily.

      Without the constant teaching I am getting through the Jehovah's Witness congregation... I just don't know.

      Dr.Goska deals with it admirably - and in a very scholarly way. John the Poet (Guzlowski) writes spare and powerful poems about his parents' harrowing experiences as slave labourers in Nazi Germany. Annette Kobak has written movingly about her father's experiences of betrayal in "Joe's War, my Father decoded", just to name a few. And they are writing about What Actually Happened To Us, without inciting hatred for "the other". Which shows that it can be done.

      Delete
    3. "I cannot bear responsibility for how everybody thinks."

      The question is not whether you bear "responsibility" for how people think originally before the conversation starts but whether, (A) you are aware of the fact that that is how people think/act and (B) assuming that that is the case, whether you understand what effect your mea culpa statements will have on people who think like that - you do have a responsibility to make sure that Poles benefit from your opening your mouth - at least if you represent yourself as a government official.

      To lamely state that some people will necessarily misinterpret what you say, begs the question whether you should have been aware of how your words might be perceived by some/all and, in Chiracish, missed an opportunity to be quiet.

      Henryk Siewierynski

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  19. This is the missing quote from "Above the Death Pits, Beneath the Flag":

    "ALthough over the past 5 years, following Poland's entry into the European Economic Community, Polish diplomats have publicly protested the anti-Polish nature of the voyage [of Israeli youngsters to Poland - SR] in meetings with their Israeli counterparts. This probably reflects the increased confidence of Poland in the world arena."
    http://books.google.pl/books?id=yvY1TPRbAboC&pg=PA267&lpg=PA267&dq=%22increased+confidence+of+Poland+in+the+world+arena%22&source=bl&ots=YFzt21dFbf&sig=wBn90FAEJOsOSc6mVEr7etHk8SE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=UMLrUOjoJciE4ATZ34GIBA&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22increased%20confidence%20of%20Poland%20in%20the%20world%20arena%22&f=false
    Sebastian Rajak

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    1. "publicly protested ...... in meetings with their Israeli counterparts"

      sorry, but here you lost me - you mean, privately?

      Henryk Siewierynski

      Delete
  20. Anonymous, please sign your posts. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Dear Mr. Rejak, I would like to complete the picture on several topics You have mentioned-
    Also, I would like to offer my opinion on several things You have voiced.
    ///But I think there are values I deem more important than free speech. These are: respect for other people irrespective of their color and ethnic background.
    I have to disagree with You. Free speech, in America, is the first article of the constitution-and for a damn good reason. Let me try to elaborate on this- I am totally against racial slurs, against discrimination on whatever basis-I am judging people by the content of their character.The problem with restricting free speech with regards to racism-perceived or real- has one construction fault-it takes into account skin color. It should not-because, in the end, it leads to certain groups being more protected than others (i.e if You offend s.o Black its “racism” if you offend s.o who is white its just an insult, i.e somehow less emotionally charge). It also creates a feeling of being victimized-Like, I am Black, so I need to be protected from racist-I am weak therefore. Additionally, it creates a feeling of one group having constantly minding what the other group could be feeling , to tip-toe around controversial issues because that could be perceived as “racism”- it induces hipocrisy,imo.Being truly colorblind should mean, imho, that we perceive insult as an assault on the honor and dignity of the other person-meaning, I am totally against restricting free speech (as long as it does not incite criminality) on that ground.Let the racist,bigots have their say, allow them to expose their stupidity -let it and hatred not fester in the dark.And allow everyone to build up self-worth and strength in facing it.

    ///"the most discriminated against in Poland"
    I have to agree- football fans (ultras) have been tremendously discriminated against by a government that has no ideas how to improve Polands situation-so they are always looking for spare topics. Football fans have been singled out-partly, because they have voiced their dislike for the government during football matches-alongside some players, one of whom had even sported a shirt saying- miala byc Irlandia a jest Bialorus (I should have been a (second) Ireland-and we are having a (second) Belarus). Stadiums have been closed for fans in some places-the players had to play in empty stadiums. During the March of Independence some ultras were called to appear in their towns police-stations on Sunday-in order to keep them from participating. Left wing and mainstream media was constantly attacking them-constantly showing the same pictures of a tiny minority of hooligans as s.th that stands for the 99,5% of the rest. If this is no defamation, if this is not discrimination-I think nothing is.

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  22. Dear Mr. Rejak, I would like to complete the picture on several topics You have mentioned-

    Also, I would like to offer my opinion on several things You have voiced.

    ///But I think there are values I deem more important than free speech.

    I have to disagree with You. Free speech, in America, is the first article of the constitution-and for a damn good reason. Let me try to elaborate on this- I am totally against racial slurs, against discrimination on whatever basis-I am judging people by the content of their character.The problem with restricting free speech with regards to racism-perceived or real- has one construction fault-it takes into account skin color. It should not-because, in the end, it leads to certain groups being more protected than others (i.e if You offend s.o Black its “racism” if you offend s.o who is white its just an insult, i.e somehow less emotionally charge). It also creates a feeling of being victimized-Like, I am Black, so I need to be protected from racist-I am weak therefore. Additionally, it creates a feeling of one group having constantly minding what the other group could be feeling , to tip-toe around controversial issues because that could be perceived as “racism”- it induces hipocrisy,imo.Being truly colorblind should mean, imho, that we perceive insult as an assault on the honor and dignity of the other person-meaning, I am totally against restricting free speech (as long as it does not incite criminality) on that ground.Let the racist,bigots have their say, allow them to expose their stupidity -let it and hatred not fester in the dark.And allow everyone to build up self-worth and strength in facing it.

    ///"the most discriminated against in Poland"

    I have to agree- football fans (ultras) have been tremendously discriminated against by a government that has no ideas how to improve Polands situation-so they are always looking for spare topics. Football fans have been singled out-partly, because they have voiced their dislike for the government during football matches-alongside some players, one of whom had even sported a shirt saying- miala byc Irlandia a jest Bialorus (I should have been a (second) Ireland-and we are having a (second) Belarus). Stadiums have been closed for fans in some places-the players had to play in empty stadiums. During the March of Independence some ultras were called to appear in their towns police-stations on Sunday-in order to keep them from participating. Left wing and mainstream media was constantly attacking them-constantly showing the same pictures of a tiny minority of hooligans as s.th that stands for the 99,5% of the rest. If this is no defamation, if this is not discrimination-I think nothing is.

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  23. ///death to hooked noses; "White Power"; "Jihad Legia

    White Power is stupid, I agree.About the other two things- the “hooked noses” is tasteless, I agree-still, this is no anti-Semitism. Being a “Jewess” myself (because my favourite football team, Cracovia, was co-funded by Jewish Poles and is therefore the “Jewish club” and the fans are called “the Jews”-and are proud of it,too ;-)) I believe such speech should not be restricted as “hate speech”. Its football, the emotions are running high (all over the world, in Israel basketball ultras where yelling at one time: Sadam, darling, throw bombs on Jerusalem), people are sometimes behaving dumb-why make such a fuss about it? With regards to Jihad Legia-You apparently do not know the background story behind it-if not, Ill tell it in short. Legia was having a match with an Israeli team whos logo had sickle and hammer in it. The Polish fans explained to the Israeli fan club that hammer and sickle were, to them, s.th like the Nazi German swastika and asked them not to show it during the match. They where briskly told to – censored- off. Twice. So they decided to fight back and show the other side that they behavior was not ok.It was a joke-and not even a completely bad one, I think.

    ///I say Endecja…

    Look- what the Endek movement was thinking about economic issues was great. I believe dismissing s.th because it is not 100% great is not a smart way to go. I have stated somewhere that the views Dmowski had with regards to f.e Jews running Wallstreet where ridiculous- should I therefore dismiss the great thoughts he had on how to build a functioning state?

    ///Take ONR, NOP and Młodzież Wszechpolska as examples of that.

    I do not know much about NOP- I have to admit, but s.th about MW and ONR. The most important thing would be that both organizations are not racist. The leader of ONR stated in the Polityka that they would have no problem accepting a dark-skinned member or s.o of Jewish faith-if he/she feels Polish. There is a video of their speaker, Kowalski, telling publicly that they want “Poland for the Poles-and in their view everyone who comes here from whatever place and feels Polish is a Pole in their books”. MW has it even written in their statues. I am not a fan of both-but calling them racist is not truthful.

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  24. ///This has definitely more to do with how they feel about Poland and Polishness.

    I personally think this has more to do with the realization that the liberal democracy introduced into Poland named the III RP has utterly failed, that Poland is best characterized as a captive state or a predatory one-one not serving its people. Its rightful anger I think.

    ///I don't think Poles as a nation stand out as either victims or heroes.

    I don’t agree with You on that. Poland has every reason to talk about the heroic battles its nation has fought, about Poland not having any colonies, about Za wasza wolnosc I nasza,about its heroes and Zegota- lets be clear here-I do believe,after having studied the history of various countries, that Polish history (or the history of Korea, Vietnam, Etiopia) has had less bloodshed in it and more positive aspects than the history of certain other countries.It does not mean that the individual people here and there are worse. It should not exclude taking about less heroic incidents,of course,but lets not make them bigger and more important than they are. This is also political capital-that’s why France, a country with a terrifying history of colonialism is viewed better than Poland! I am thinking about the future here- Ive met African immigrants in Cracow who had decided to make Poland their new home because they, being from downtrodden nations themselves, could identify with Polish history, courage, with Poland being somehow special-a nation, that had no hand in robbing them of their land, a nation in which human values were rather uphold than not. Having a history of brutal colonization is, in my eyes, not the same as having non. Such a view I have encountered on numerous occasions-normally,it was from people who are in fact ashamed of being Polish, afraid of talking about the very bright sides of Polish history in order not to offend anyone.I myself have been holding such a view until I had come to a deeper understanding of how humans work.It results in Poland being the only nation not fighting for the international recognition of Polish heroism.It results in other nations downplaying the dark sides of their history and starting to talk more and more about the tiny minority of szmalcownicy. It results in Poland being used to white-wash the guilt of other nations who are choosing to stand out as heroes-like the French whos rather small Resistance is known all over the world while virtually no one knows about the Armia Krajowa.There is some saying they have in Germany-Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof (life is no pony ranch)- dignity, recognition- are things one has to fight for-otherwise others will take a greater share for themselves-like the British claiming that their scientists have cracked the Enigma, not the Poles. The best part is- Poland would not have to remain mute on for example, collaboration-like France.We would just have to tell the truth, and tell it loudly.

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  25. All very good points, Hanna

    In addition, much of what Sebastian Rejak has posted so far is common knowledge.

    For instance, he suggested that one does not have to be an ethnic Pole to qualify as a Polish patriot. The Endeks recognized this fact.

    Sebastian Rejak cautions against equating Polish patriotism with Polish bloodletting. The Endeks also believed this and, for this reason, were opposed to the Insurrections of 1830 and 1863.

    It is no news that Polish Communists considered themselves Polish patriots. Nazi collaborators in their respective nations also thought of themselves as patriots. Vidkun Quisling, whose very name has become synonymous with treason, protested during his postwar trial that he was actually a Norwegian patriot whose actions had saved the Norwegian people from a worse fate at the hands of the Nazis.

    The preceding paragraph reminds us that, however different are various definitions of patriotism, they cannot be made so elastic that treason becomes redefined as patriotism.

    Finally, let us once again re-focus this discussion. I wonder if Sebastian Rejak would agree with me(notwithstanding any differences we have over the propriety of suspecting Targowica behavior, and notwithstanding any differences we have in our definitions of a Polish patriot), that the Polish government should do MUCH more to stop the kind of effrontery against Poland exhibited by the Israeli Holocaust-related visits.

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  26. As a matter of principle I decided not to respond to comments that are not signed. Just one exception: talking about how certain people/political movements thought about economy - a guy west of Poland achieved a lot in economic terms some time ago. To this day there are people who say: Look, Mr. H. did a wonderful job for his country's economic development. Where will this kind of thinking lead us to...? Also, claiming that the gov't of Poland (just this one or the one back in 2005-2007 too?) has done nothing or close to nothing to enhance POland's image internationally seems ungrounded: just last year Karski was posthumously granted US highest civilian decoration - the Medal of Freedom ("Polish camp" was quoted - remember the reaction of the Polish gov't?). This march Ggtwn Univ. will publish Karski's "Story of a secret state" and staps are being taken now to include it in university and school curricula. The Foreign Ministry has launched yesrs ago a policy of combatting "Polish camps" in the media - with more than litte success.
    However I differ and disagree with Mr. Peczkis, I have to admit he has more to convey then just feelings and "that's my position. full stop." I have a lot of respect for your knowledge and the fact that you read a lot and talk about scholarship, Mr. Peczkis. Which cannot be said of many other guests here. As I said, it's a question of how people feel and arguments can serve for very little in this debate...
    Sebastian Rejak

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    1. The only thing that the Polish government achieved with the whole Karski thing was to elevate the topic of Polish concentration camps - in the aftermath, no one talked about Karski - instead they talked about camps - are they Polish? Are they not Polish?

      A conversation like that is like asking whether someone is a pedophile - whatever is concluded, if anything, at the end such a discussion can only leave the name of all involved tarnished.

      An "F" for efficacy.

      Henryk Siewierynski

      (curious which "anonymous" arguments Mr. Rejak refuses to address, allegedly on principle.

      Delete
  27. Thank you, Mr. Rejak, for the kind words.

    Jan Karski's STORY OF A SECRET STATE is a fascinating testimony. To see my review of his book, please click on my name in this immediate posting.

    Yes, the Polish government is doing something about Poland's image, but not nearly enough. Statements about Poles who aided Jews are usually incorrectly and ungratefully dismissed, by the other side, as "a tiny handful of altruists acting on their own". Then the discussion always turns to a new round of Polonophobic accusations.

    The tone of the Israeli Holocaust-related visits is unambiguously negative, and that it what is dominant. Can you imagine a group of thousands of Poles travelling annually to Israel to mock the Jewish people and the State of Israel? Better yet, can you imagine the State of Israel putting up with such effrontery for even a moment?

    So this brings me back to my original question: Does Sebastian Rejak agree with me that the Polish government should do MUCH more to stop the kind of effrontery against Poland exhibited by the Israeli Holocaust-related visits?

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  28. I don't know how much would be deemed enough. There are things you can do and things you can't... Can you imagine country A say to country B: "We don't like this particular element in your education system" and the response be "Oh, sorry, we didn't know that - we'll change that right away"? The problem Mr. Peczkis has mentioned has been raised by the Polish Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Education more often than anyone could believe. We are cooperating with Yad Vashem on that - they train treachers and educators who come to Poland with the youth. It's a time-consuming, toilsome process. A process, not a single act or a number of acts that, when accomplished, will guarantee a concrete result. Also, you can always voice disappointment, frustration,and indignation at the current state of affairs... But then you may hear that when there's no more vandalizing Jewish cemeteries in Poland - by that time Israeli youth groups will have changed their behavior. Last example of cemetery vandalism in Poland: Lodz, Dec. 2012. That's life...
    Sebastian Rejak

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    1. Sebastian Rejak I would love it if you or anyone could offer me any insight into how to get Bieganski published in Poland.

      Delete
    2. The Polish Foreign Ministry could shut these trips down, no?

      Perhaps dig up the earth/bones and all and ship it to the travelling revelers' own country? Problem solved.

      Everyone is happy.

      Oder?

      Henryk Siewierynski

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    3. To be clear (given the various types that visit this blog), this was not a serious suggestion but rather an attempt to point out what appears to be the exquisite passivity of the Polish government on this topic

      (see Jeffrey Goldberg piece in the Atlantic about the F-15 overflights and how Israeli pilots stuck it to the [Polish, apparently] "man" for all those years of oppression by apparently flying much lower over Auschwitz than expressly requested by the Polish MFA before.

      Quoting Amir Eshel: “We had to listen to the Poles for 800 years. Today we don’t have to listen anymore.”

      Is this guy serious? - he seems to have thought that he was bombing Ossiraq or something

      Reaction from the Polish government in the face of such a stunt?)

      Henryk Siewierynski

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  29. There are two puzzling issues raised here:

    1). It is not a matter of what Israelis do in Israel. No one questions that. It is a matter of what Israelis do while in Poland--a sovereign state.

    2). Surely vandalism of Jewish cemeteries (not to mention vandalism of ANY structure) cannot in any way have caused the year-after-year visits by tens of thousands of Israeli students' systematic mocking of the Polish nation. If you read my review of Feldman's book, you will note that the Israeli teenagers' conduct is deep-seated and systematic, and that it has nothing to do with instances of vandalized Jewish cemeteries.

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  30. Dear Rejak,
    vandalism directed against Jewish cementaries,institutions, even people- is happening at least 2-several times a month in Germany-not sometimes like in Poland.

    Ill give You an interesting example of such vandalism: In September of last year not only was a rabbi beaten up during broad daylight on the streets of Berlin (albeit by "Germans with a migration background"=Arab youngster) but the so-called stumbling stones in Wismar were defaced.In what way?

    They had, in an coordinated action, metal plates glued upon them- bearing the names and birthdays of leading SS-men. Go figure.

    In Germany, police is constantly guarding synagogues. Tomorrow, Im going to one (for a guest service-keep your fingers crossed that Ill be able to become a supporting member and thus able to participate on a regular basis :-)) and I had to apply beforehand, I will, again, have my ID checked by police standing in front of it and also my backback (cause there might be a bomb inside it -.-).

    Of course, cool Israeli hipsters dont mind living in Berlin (according to an article I read in a German magazine)- the cool place to be. I hope that they have cool apartments to rent in the Wannseestreet -.- (pardon my sarcasm)

    The bottom line: The bahaviour of Israeli youngsters has NOTHING at all to to with the way Poles behave-the general positive feeling towards Israel/Judaism is completely looked down upon.
    In "The 7th Million" there is a very clear, shocking sentence about this-we have forgiven the Germans, we have to hate s.o else now. Personally, I think that this is some kind of Stockholm Syndrome. Or the fact that apparently might makes right (and for adulation).

    I believe that it is high time to teach them a lesson-enought is enought.

    I am not being arrogent,what I am demanding is simple human coutesy, nothing more or less.

    Jan, I would NEVER go to Isreal and behave like an xxx. Or to whatever place on earth-because every traveller is always a honorary ambassador of his/her country.

    To make one thing clear- we can talk about everything, yes, also incidents of real anti-Semitism in Poland, we can talk about incidents of historical anti-Semitism in Poland-but what is happening is Poland being singled out for s.th everyone was doing back than. Kind of like Christ had to suffer for the evils of humanity-and I am saying this as a non-Christian.

    If they will make anti-Semites out of us Poles they will, de facto, devalue everything the victims of the Holocaust have suffered.Nazi Germany will have its last laugh.

    The weird thing is- My whole family is philosemitic and pro-Israel. But lately, I am having more and more a hard time to be pro-Israel. It still works-but only, because the other side is way worse when it comes to human rights...Probably they dont care in Israel-if anything, asking Poland for assistance is probably plan Z, if all other possibilities will have failed.

    Until then, one still can mock and provoke-like this hipster left-wing Israeli "artist" here (sorry,Polish only): http://znak.org.pl/?lang1=pl&page1=studies&subpage1=studies00&infopassid1=300&scrt1=sn

    (in short, this "Jewish Renaissance Movement is calling for the return of 3 Mio Jews to Poland (which would not be that bad),also for unlimited immigration from every place on earth to Poland (which would be a catastrophe) as well as the introduction of Hebrew as a second national language-all these postulates were conjured up during the Berlinade (in Berlin)- in short-a provokation, which Jewish Poles thankfully ignored).

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  31. Interesting points, again, Hanna.

    Also, note that vandalism of cemeteries, especially unused cemeteries, is in no sense Polish and Jewish. For instance, the Lyczakow Cemetery in Lwow had long been used as a hangout by Russian and Ukrainian youth, who vandalized it with graffiti, including pornographic graffiti.

    In any case, it seems to me that bringing up vandalism of Jewish cemeteries in Poland is an attempt to exculpate the systematic, large-scale Israeli visits and their ingrained anti-Polish tone.

    Also, the "It takes time for the Polish government to do something" matter brought up by Sebastian Rejak must be evaluated. The organized Israeli Holocaust-related visits to Poland did not begin yesterday. They have now been going on for 25 years.

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  32. I have now obtained, read, and Amazon-reviewed Sebastian Rejak's new book on Poles and Jews.

    Those interested in reading my review should click on my name in this specific posting.

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    1. Jan in your review you say, "Rejak presents Polish anti-Semitism as something severe and ubiquitous. It was not."

      Must disagree with you. Anti-semitism in inter-war Poland, Poland between World War I and World War II, was a serious problem.

      Delete
  33. Consider what I had also written: [See the Peczkis Listmania: Pre-WWII Polish Jews Experiencing Little or No Anti-Semitism.]

    If Polish anti-Semitism had been so severe and ubiquitous, how is it possible to find even one, let alone several, Polish Jews who report never experiencing anti-Semitism in their ENTIRE lifetime?

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    1. Jan, I won't debate this point with you here or on Amazon, where I posted the same comment.

      Anti-Semitism was a powerful force and a serious problem in interwar Poland. Period. That's reality. To deny that reality doesn't do anyone any good.

      Delete
    2. All right, I respect your decision.

      However, please note what you have quoted from your BIEGANSKI and recently posted under the Irena Sendler blog:

      'A July 27, 2001 LexisNexis search of the previous year's news stories found one hundred sixty four articles covering Gross' Neighbors. Sampled texts emphasized a diagnostically and uniquely Polish racial essence that was typified by violent anti-Semitism. A July 27, 2001, LexisNexis search of the previous year's news stories found only two articles addressing Irena Sendler. One of those articles was a mere hundred words long, and in a local paper. The other article included lengthy mention of Gross' Neighbors and described Poles as "viciously anti-Jewish" (Komarow).'

      I am not denying the existence of significant Polish anti-Semitism, only its perceived severity and ubiquity. In view of your quote above about Poles supposedly having a "racial essence" of anti-Semitism, perhaps a discussion of the extent and severity of anti-Semitism in Poland is a valid consideration after all.

      Delete
    3. How can one discuss "Polish Antisemitism" without also mentioning "Jewish Antipolonism" in the same sentence? Because that was reality as well, and to deny that wouldn't do anyone good either. In fact it provides the typical, one-sided view that promotes all Poles as perpetrators and all Jews as victims. Gee, why did the Poles have it out for the Jews? They were just the haters weren't they!

      Thanks to Dr. Kurek's book on Polish-Jewish relations for at last concretely explaining as to WHY general Polish animosity was so "serious" during the interwar years. For all an idiot knows, it was because they were virulently and inherently antisemitic. Gee whiz.

      Delete
  34. Dear Mr. Peczkis,
    Thanks for taking the time to read and review my book on Polish and American Jews. Having on mind our discussion about the Israeli tendency to depict Poland in black colors (and the role of the March of the Living), I thought you'd mention my treatment of the topic... Here's a few quotes from my book:
    "[Abraham] Burg says: 'We Jews are a society incapable of getting rid of fear. All our politics is a politics of fear.' What are the manifestations of this fear? To Burg it is, among other things, preoccupation with the Holocuast. He says he has 'lost' five of his six sons due to excessive Holocaust education and specifically as a result of their participation in the March of the Living." (p. 209)
    "The way the March of the Living had been organized prior to 1998 also came under the critique of many Polish Jews. What they opposed was both centring Jewish identity around the Holocaust and strengthening the stereotype of 'us against them', 'the whole world against Jews/Israelis'. Konstanty Gebert provides a good example of that way of thinking: 'One has the impression that the existence in Poland of young Jews was distorting the picture; Poland is to be exclusively the place of death. True, during the March whistles can be heard and stones are being thrown. That is ignominious. But it is not only Polish antisemitism that is to be blamed for that. ALso the disdain which the participants are being taught: ... 'You will hate them for participating in the atrocities' ... These words cannot be tolerated nor justified. They insult us, Polish Jews, no less than other memebers of the Polish society against whome they are aimed' ". (p. 209f)
    I'd only add, that we Poles are also obsessed with fear and thinking in terms of "they're all against us and gotta fight back!"
    Anyway, thanks for the 4 stars.

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  35. "and WE gotta fight back"
    sorry for omitting 1 word
    SR

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  36. Thank you, Mr. Rejak, for your response. I certainly was aware of these comments about the Marches of the Living. They add to similar Jewish criticisms of the Marches of the Living which I had cited in my review of Feldman's book. Unfortunately, two sparrows do not make spring, and a few Jewish criticisms of the event do not undermine the essentially anti-Polish character of these Marches.

    I do not think that Poles are obsessed with fear and the need to fight back. To the contrary: As I have said ad infinitum, Poles have been far too passive in the face of Polonophobia and the Bieganski stereotype.

    I also thought that your analysis of whether or not the Holocaust was "uniquely unique" was very good. I did not mention this either for a simple reason--I was out of room. Though not enforced rigidly by Amazon anymore, the 1,000 word limit for Amazon reviews had already been exceeded. For this reason, I could not discuss everything. In fact, I wrote that, "Because this work raises many different topics, I focus on information not commonly presented in books on the same subject."

    Finally, since we have a common interest in Polish-Jewish relations, you may be interested in the following:

    I have read and Amazon-reviewed well over 300 books on Poland's Judaica (updated December 2012), out of my over 1,600 Amazon-reviewed items, and have here organized these Judaica reviews into twenty (so far) Amazon Listmania according to these six chronological divisions:

    I. POLES AND JEWS BEFORE POLAND'S RE-ACQUIRED INDEPENDENCE (Pre-1918)
    II. POLISH-JEWISH RELATIONS IN THE SECOND REPUBLIC (1918-1939)
    III. POLES AND JEWS DURING THE GERMAN-MADE HOLOCAUST (1939-1944)
    IV. POLES AND JEWS UNDER SOVIET OCCUPATION (1944-1989)
    V. POLES AND JEWS TODAY
    VI. FLASH POINTS IN POLISH-JEWISH RELATIONS

    (Go to Amazon Listmania, and type-in the name of the indicated Listmania according to a specific topic area for further study):

    I. POLES AND JEWS BEFORE POLAND'S RE-ACQUIRED INDEPENDENCE (Pre-1918)

    Jews and Judaism in Tsarist Russia
    Jews and Judaism in Galicia (Poland, Ukraine)
    Judeopolonia: Fact, Myth, or In-Between?

    II. POLISH-JEWISH RELATIONS IN THE SECOND REPUBLIC (1918-1939)

    Jewish Culture, Jewish History, Jewish Life, Jewish Religion
    Jewish Freethought in Pre-WWII Poland
    Jewish Political Parties and Politics in Pre-WWII Poland
    Pre-WWII Polish Jews Experiencing Little or No Anti-Semitism
    Polish Pogroms: '39-'45, Jedwabne '41, Kielce '46, Przytyk '36, & '18

    III. POLES AND JEWS DURING THE HOLOCAUST (1939-1944)

    Holocaust (Shoah) Misconceptions Corrected
    Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: Myths Vs. Facts
    Righteous Among Nations: Polish Rescuers of Jews.........Betrayers Too
    The WWII Rescue of Danish Jewish in Fact and in Myth
    Diaries from the Jewish Ghettos in German-Occupied Poland in WWII
    The Treblinka Holocaust Death Camp in German-Occupied Poland
    Trial of Adolf Eichmann; Hannah Arendt, and the Judenrat Controversy

    IV. POLES AND JEWS UNDER SOVIET OCCUPATION (1944-1989)

    Looting, Grave Robbery, Property Restitution--Not Only Poles From Jews

    V. POLES AND JEWS TODAY (1989-on)

    Auschwitz (Oswiecim), Kolbe, & Auschwitz Carmelite Convent Controversy
    Jewish Landmarks in Post-WWII and Contemporary Poland

    VI. FLASH POINTS IN POLISH-JEWISH RELATIONS
    Understanding Polish Statesman Roman Dmowski and His National Movement
    Exposing Polonophobia: Anti-Polish Bias, as in Holocaust Materials

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