Saturday, January 19, 2013

"We Must Nurse Our Children on Hatred of Jews": Who Said It?

Former Israeli Prime Minster Yitzhak Shamir famously stated that "Every Pole sucked anti-Semitism with his mother's milk." It's an oft-cited summation of the Bieganski Brute Polak stereotype. If you google it, you will find it cited on webpage after webpage, in published article after published article, for example here.

My mother was Slovak, not Polish. She spoke some Yiddish, because, like many Bohunk women, she cooked and cleaned for a Jewish family, and raised their children. I picked up what little Yiddish I know from her. We ate the Jewish foods she had prepared for her employers. She had Jewish friends, who visited the house regularly, and were included in important family events like funerals. I had Jewish boyfriends, and they visited the house, and my mother greeted them, as she greeted everyone, with food. The one time she fixed me up on a blind date, it was with a Jewish boy, the son of a friend.

Obviously this is an anecdote, not a thorough study of Polish child-rearing practices. Yes, there is anti-Semitism in Poland. The problem with Shamir's quote is that it essentializes Polish anti-Semitism. It makes it an inextricable aspect of Polish biology and culture.


Sue Knight regularly reminds us of George Orwell's classic book "1984." In that book, the masses of Oceania are encouraged to cheer blindly for whomever the government wants them to cheer. One minute they could be cheering for Eastasia and reviling Eurasia; the next minute the opposite could be true.

Recently Americans were urged to cheer for the Arab Spring. We were urged to cheer for the Arab Spring in spite of the hideous assault on Laura Logan, the graphic photo of a soldier stepping on a woman in Tahrir Square, and deadly attacks on Egypt's Coptic Christians.

We are urged to cheer the Arab Spring's election of Mohammed Morsi, who exhorted his fellow believers, "Dear brothers, we must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them. They must be nursed on hatred. The hatred must continue."

I wonder if Morsi's actual exhortation to nursing children on hatred of Jews will ever receive any press or attention.

Mohammed Morsi exhorting his fellow Muslims to nurse their children and grandchildren on hatred of Jews: full story here.

The Arab Spring. Tahrir Square.


  1. Yes, I do often comment on how 1984 the world is now. And how grateful I am to George Orwell for giving us the vocabulary in which to discuss it.

    This is another post demonstrating the politics behind the vilification of Poland - showing that it IS politics and unrelated to anything that actually happened.

    At the moment, Moslems have quite a lot of PC-protection. And, as I have said before, I am not grudging them it, knowing what life is like without it. However, I am not a cheerleader for the Arab Spring - because our Creator has asked us not to rebel. He has set a time when He will deal with all the kingdoms of the world. Until that time, shouldn't we be an obedient citizen of whatever government we live under - always providing that that obedience does not conflict with God's law which must always come first?

    Another valuable post. Thanks. And another reminder that, while of course we need to tell our story, there is very little point trying to combat this by arguing about what Poles did or did not do.

    It is, as I have said before, an interesting challenge.

    Oh - and long live our glorious Allies The Peoples Republic of Eastasia and down with nasty old Eurasia!! (or vice versa, depending on which day of the week it is).

  2. Danusha, have a look here:

    (Memri TV) translated snippets from Arab TV with subtitles, courtesy of mostly Christian Arabs. The hatred, I daresay, is shocking. More shocking to me is the fact that my taxmoney goes to supporting some of it-EU funding for the Palestinian authorities goes into funding TV channels teaching hatred to children. And no, there will be no attention why should there be? They need the time to be riled up about de-facto non-existant racism in the US f.e. To be clear here- the situation of Israel is horrible. I believe that, the very moment the US turns its back on Israel the situation will be kind of a Massada reloaded with Israel being the fortress, up against the Islamic world and left by Western Europe where politicians are more and more trying to get the Muslim vote. What would be really cool (albeit impossible-because these people would be foreigners speaking a totally different tongue, Ivrit)if some Israelis could decide to claim their birthright, Poland, come back and rebuild our Jewish communities. To many people being concentrated in such a small place as Israel is imho a mortal danger....

    1. I suppose, in the 1984 world we live in, in there is hatred and there is hatred. There is what PC defines as hatred, whether it is or it isn't. And there is actual hatred, which does not count if it is not defined as such by The Handbook of Political Correctness.

      And now my head is in a whirl and I can't for the life of me remember whether we are Shocking and Aweing Eastasia or Eurasia this week.

      Hanna, I can't take sides between Israeli and Palestinian, I have to stay neutral, and be no part of the world. And try to be careful not to say or do anything that is going to aggravate all the hatred being stirred up. We have just seen some terrible consequences in the Algerian desert, with many dead. It brought back to me some very fraught times in our own expat life.

      We lived and work in a fundamentalist Muslim country for 25 years, living under Sharia law. And i know if someone had lived and worked in Poland for many years, I would be grateful if they would dwell on the positives. And, like any other country, Saudi Arabia had its positive side as well as its negative. Positive enough for us to live there for 25 years for a start. My husband misses his desert trips and his dive trips to the Red Sea to this day - although he has become happily busy in the world of the Sussex butterfly.

      But I do agree that if the Jewish people believe that another attempt is going to be made to destroy them, surely the last thing they would do is to gather together in one small country. Especially given the horrors of modern weaponry.

      But I assume they feel - as many people do - that there is safety in powerful military alliances and state of the art weaponry. And the sad sad thing about it is that the Hebrew Scriptures warn us again and again that there is no safety in such things.

      True peace and security can only be found with the God of Abraham, and his people. I have clung on to them ever since they called at my door.

  3. I have heard that comment, too, about Poles. I self identify as Polish-American since I see that as inclusive of my backgrounds. My family is one of intermarriage. While I was raised Catholic, I was also raised knowing that, by Jewish law, I am Jewish, since my matriarchal line was Jewish. So, when I hear about Polish antisemitism, it runs contrary to my experience. My Polish Catholic and Jewish backgrounds are intertwined, as are those of many Poles, since Poland had one of the higher rates of intermarriage in Europe in the cities and parts of Galicia.

  4. I recently read a story about a Texas, American 18 year old who killed his sister, 15 and mother after being ticked off by his sister saying something "bigoted", to quote the murderer's confession. Of course the boy was insane and beyond reason to have planned and committed the acts he did, but it does have a "1984" element and feeling about it. What is the next step after reporting your family to the authorities?


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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