Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Blame the Catholic Church: Mark Regev in the Jerusalem Post on Polish-Israel Relations


In the December 9, 2021, Jerusalem Post, op ed writer Mark Regev suggests a possible solution to tension between Poland and Israel:


"If there is to be a diplomatic solution to the Jerusalem-Warsaw face-off, it may be found in a formula that includes both Israeli recognition that Poland was a victim of Nazi aggression and Poland’s acknowledgment that numerous Poles either actively or passively collaborated in the mass murder of the Jews."


Regev works hard to produce an even-handed approach. He lauds Polish heroism and mourns Polish losses.


But then we get this, "Polish national identity and Catholicism seemingly went hand in hand. Thus, at best, for large numbers of Poles, the Jews were tolerated outsiders; at worst, they were the Christ-killers of the medieval Church."


Let's tinker with this a bit.


"Jewish identity in Poland went hand in hand with Judaism. Thus, at best, Polish Catholics were poylishe kop peasants (poyer) and at worst they were unclean, godforsaken goyim as warned against in the ancient Talmud."


Regev implies that Catholicism is responsible for the Holocaust. The tinkered with version of Regev's sentence could be used to argue that Judaism contributed to Jewish indifference to Polish suffering at various times in Polish history, including when Jews welcomed invading Soviet tanks with bread and salt, and when Jews were disproportionately represented among the Communist murderers, torturers, and erasers of history in post-WWII Poland. In fact, there are people who make that argument, and they are anti-Semites.


You immediately see the problem with the second sentence. The second sentence is an anti-Semitic sentence that locates the source of conflict between Poles and Jews in Judaism itself.


Decent people don't do that.


And yet Regev did just that – he located the source of conflict between Poles and Jews in Catholicism. He made no reference to the very real socioeconomic tensions between Poles and Jews in a prototypical middleman minority setting, or to Jewish teachings that Jews brought with them to Poland and that made their integration into Polish life difficult.


Otherwise, I like Regev's article and I admire his effort to address a difficult topic in a fair and evenhanded way. And of course I, like most Poles, acknowledge, as Regev states, that "numerous Poles either actively or passively collaborated in the mass murder of the Jews." We acknowledge this with great grief and a determination to live our lives in a way that makes the world a better place. By, for example, not distorting history to malign a religion, not Catholicism, not Judaism.  


You can read Regev's article here


Thank you to Jerzy Pankiewicz for sending this in.


  1. You quote Regev, "numerous Poles either actively or passively collaborated in the mass murder of the Jews."

    What is "numerous"?

    And why is that so important?

  2. I am a mathematician and I find the phrase "numerous Poles either actively or passively collaborated in the mass murder of the Jews." unprecise and uncomplete. How much is 'numerous'? How did Germany coerce the collaboration in Poland? Any European nation participated in the Holocaust, either actively or passively. Poland was one of the most cruelly oppressed nations, why does Mark Regef write about Poland rather than about a dozen of willingly collaborating nations? Unprecize phrases cannot create mutual understanding. Poland has cruelly punished thousands of Polish collaborators. No other nation did, especially Germany and Austria. The Blue police was disbanded and any officer denazified. What does it mean "Poland’s current leadership (...) refuses to accept any Polish responsibility for it (the Holocaust)." What is "Polish responsibility"? Regarding pre-war Poland - it accepted all (hundreds of thousands) Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union. It was the time of strict migration limits around the world. Poland was extremely poor and ethnically divided. Many Jewish migrants refused to integrate.

  3. Poland has acknowledged those facts numerous times. In fact, most of them have been publicized by Polish historians publishing in Poland. The current government is trying to downplay anything reflecting badly on the Polish nationalists, but even they do not go so far as to deny the basic facts concerning anti-Semitic actions by Poles.

    Frankly, Poland is currently in conflict with almost every country in its orbit and Russia and Israel may be the only two where the fault lies mostly not on the Polish side.

  4. Jan Maletka was a railwayman killed by Nazi guards when he handed over water to Jews transported to Treblinka death camp. A memorial table has been recently founded. Jan Grabowski and Jan Hartman attacked the idea of remebering Maletka, because there were some Poles who demanded gold for water. Jewish description of the hate campaign,polacy-i-zydzi-fanatyczni-nienawistnicy-sa-po-obu-stronach


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