Sunday, February 9, 2014

Response from Rabbi Michael Lerner

Rabbi Michael Lerner

Rabbi Michael Lerner kindly offered this response to the previous series of blogs, visible here, here, here, and here. I have cut and pasted Rabbi Lerner's response, below, with no additions or subtractions, except for adding a few line breaks to make for easier reading.

***From Rabbi Michael Lerner***

While few of us spiritual progressives or progressive Jews believe that ALL Poles were antiSemitic, and fewer still deny that there was a section of the Polish people who participated in resistance to the Nazi occupation of Poland, we have considerable reason to believe that Polish anti-Semitism, like French, German, Dutch, Hungarian, Latvian, Estonian, Ukrainian and Russian anti-Semitism

was deeply rooted in Polish culture and popular opinion, that it played a role in the way that some significant section of Poles were willing to collaborate with Nazis in the hunting down and extermination of Jews, as well as in the failure of the Polish resistance forces to give adequate support to the Warsaw Ghetto rebellion, as well as in the perception held by Polish communists that in order to maintain power in the post WWII years that it would be wise for them to purge Jews from the Communist Party leadership and in other ways play along with Polish anti-Semitism

not to mention the pogroms against Jews that spontaneously erupted after WWII in 1945 when hundreds of Jews were murdered when they tried to reclaim their homes from the Poles who had stolen them once their Jewish neighbors were sent to the gas chambers. Denying this documented aspect of Polish racism is as irrational as Americans denying the strong strains of anti-african-american racism that played a decisive role in American history up till the Civil Rights movement and continues toplay a role covertly in giving support even at this very moment in the appeal of the political Right wing in American politics. 

*** End of Rabbi Lerner's comments. ***

Above, Rabbi Lerner wrote: "Denying this aspect of Polish racism is...irrational."

I am more depressed than I can say to read this from Rabbi Lerner. I am also deeply offended. I am offended for Jan Karski, Witold Pilecki, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Irene Sendler, Wiktoria Ulma, and countless other, often nameless Poles who risked their lives, endured torture and imprisonment, and sometimes died to save Jews. 


Rabbi Lerner, if you had read anything of this blog, including the previous posts that quote you, you would know that not I, not "Bieganski," my book, and not Bieganski the blog has ever "denied Polish racism." 

For heaven's sake, Rabbi. Others can read though you chose not to. A previous post that responds to you cites and links to blog posts on this blog that condemn anti-Semitism among Poles. Another link would have taken you to Wladyslaw Bartoszewski's heroic and amazing resistance to Polish anti-Semitism. His resistance took place under Nazism and Communism. As impressive as your achievements are, you can never say that you did what Bartoszewski did. 

My guess is that you didn't bother to read a word I wrote before you lectured me. 

You can treat me with such contempt and such -- yes -- racism because you are a powerful man and I am nothing but a voice crying in the wilderness. I have no one behind me. No institutional support. Just a book and a blog. 

Right is on the side of those fighting the Bieganski stereotype. Not on the side of those who refuse to hear, those who cling to hate, and hide behind self-righteousness. The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. 

8 comments:

  1. I wonder if Rabbi Michael Lerner would be willing to admit the existence of Jewish wrongdoing against Poles and Poland--something that contributed to Polish anti-Semitism.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wonder if Rabbi Lerner deems it rational that a people in a war-torn country are anything but. These "pogroms" weren't organized nor were they some sort of national movement - they were merely the result of people fighting amongst themselves for whatever scarce resources remained. I wonder also if Rabbi Lerner thinks it rational to paint history and a people in such a stark black-and-white way, when the truth is actually a lot more complicated than he would like to believe.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks again for another valuable post Danusha.

    Dr.Lerner's reply demonstrates the politics of this when he talks about the crimes of the communist government in Poland and blames them on the Polish people.

    I don't know where to start with this one... do you have Dr.L's email contact Danusha as I would like to put the following points to him? I hope you have known me long enough to know that I would do so politely.

    But this is what I would want to say:

    1. The Stalin regime - a murderous one - was imposed on Poland by its Allies. So if you want to blame anyone for its crimes, how come blaming all Americans and Brits? I am not blaming them, by the way, just asking why Dr.Lerner does not.

    2. The crimes of communism usually have no political weight at all. As far as I am aware, not even one of Stalin's willing executioners has been brought to trial, let alone convicted of anything. And I have never heard anyone blame "the Russians" for the horrors of Stalinism, or "the Chinese" for the horrors of Maoism. Why do the rules change when it comes to Poland? My answer is that there is a political agenda here. I am wondering what his answer would be.

    And... well, there are plenty more things I would like to ask, but that would do for a start.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Sue. I hope you will share this link widely if you think the contents important. As for Rabbi Lerner's email address, you can easily find it via a google search. I don't want to give it out without his permission.

      Delete
  4. While few of us spiritual progressives or progressive Poles believe that ALL Jews were antiPolish, and fewer still deny that there was a section of the Jewish people who participated in resistance to the Nazi occupation of Poland, we have considerable reason to believe that Jewish-AntiPolonism , like Soviet, German, and British anti-Semitism

    was deeply rooted in Jewish culture and popular opinion, that it played a role in the way that some significant section of Jews were willing to collaborate with Soviets in the hunting down and extermination of Poles, as well as in the failure of the Jewish resistance forces to give adequate support to various Polish rebellions, as well as in the perception held by Jewish communists that in order to maintain power in the post WWII years that it would be wise for them to purge Poland of anti-Communists, not to mention the pogroms against Poles that spontaneously erupted after the beginning of WWII in 1939 when millions of Poles were murdered when they tried to reclaim their homes from Jes who had stolen them once their Polish neighbors were sent to the gulags. Denying this documented aspect of Jewish racism is as irrational as Americans denying the strong strains of anti-semitic racism that played a decisive role in American history after the Civil Rights movement and continues to play a role covertly in giving support even at this very moment in the appeal of the political Left wing in American politics and its venomous hatred towards the State of Israel.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Also, why do you put up Lerner as representative of anything? The man is notorious as a critic of Israel, of Catholicism, etc. He subscribes to a clear hierarchy of victims with Poles on the bottom but Jews not much higher (see his comments re: Palestinians or AfAms)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I dont know if its just a coincidence, but i recently watched Shtetl and was disgusted, not by the whole film, as there are parts, mostly involvling Romaniuk that are quite beautiful, was disgusted by its clear and obvious, explicit attempts to blame the Shoah on the Poles. The scene w/the Israeli kids near the end is partiuclarly instructive on what poles are up against. It makes me sad and angry.I do not know of a kind word to describe Lerner's response. I can say, as a Jew, who grew up going to Hebrew School and Hebrew High School, that its arrogance and ignorance does not in the least surprise me. All what i could do is a) apologize for him and his mentality, and b) assure you that, over the past year i have learned much about the suffering of the Poles under the Russians, Prussians, Bolsheviks, Soviets, Nazis, and Communists, and about Jewish Polonophobia/anti-Polonism, and am doing my best to spread the word amongst my co-religionists, with little success of course, but at least the seeds are being planted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eyton hello again and thank you and bless you for your efforts.

      Delete

Comments are moderated.
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.
Your comment uses I-statements rather than You-statements.
Your comment states a position based on facts, rather than on ad hominem material.
Your comment includes readily verifiable factual material, rather than speculation that veers wildly away from established facts.
T'he full meaning of your comment is clear to the comment moderator the first time he or she glances over it.
You comment is less likely to be posted if:
You do not include a first and last name.
Your comment is not in Standard English, with enough errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar to make the comment's meaning difficult to discern.
Your comment includes ad hominem statements, or You-statements.
You have previously posted, or attempted to post, in an inappropriate manner.
You keep repeating the same things over and over and over again.