Ofer Aderet writes in Haaretz. 22 January 2019
“Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki acknowledges that among the Poles there were “individual criminals, as in any nation,” but will not accept any generalizations about Poland’s involvement as a nation and Poles’ involvement as a people in the Nazis’ crimes.
Speaking with Haaretz this week, after the eruption of the current diplomatic crisis between Israel and Poland, Morawiecki says he was profoundly hurt by the comments of interim Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who quoted former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir when he said, “The Poles imbibed anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk.”
This sentence, says Morawiecki, is the reason he canceled his participation in the Visegrad Summit, which was scheduled to be held this week in Israel.
“I have no problem with someone mentioning the fact that during the cruel, evil, dehumanizing war there were individual criminals in my nation – obviously there were, just as in every other nation,” says Morawiecki. “But when you use these stereotypes that ‘every Pole suckled anti-Semitism out of their mother’s breast’ it’s nothing short of racism.”
Morawiecki described further his reaction to Katz’s insult. “When I first heard of this it seemed totally unbelievable. Such words could be used by a radical extremist, but not by a foreign minister,” he said, later adding, “I understand that in the course of an electoral campaign some politicians want to make headlines.”
“We also have to cope with some anti-Semitism in Poland, but fortunately it is marginal,” Morawiecki said, citing the recent report of the European Fundamental Rights Agency. “Poland is one of the few countries in the EU where the number of anti-Semitic incidents is decreasing, while in many others we are witnessing worrying developments,” he said, noting that anti-Semitism appears to be on the rise in countries like France, Germany, Sweden and Britain.
“Let me stress it again: This plague is marginal in Poland. It saddens me that anti-Polonism seems to be the position of one of the top Israeli officials,” said the Polish prime minister.
Morawiecki also cited that the joint statement he signed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last June included a section denouncing anti-Semitism and anti-Polonism. This part of the declaration elicited criticism from some historians who argued that a parallel should not be drawn between the two, and that putting them together in this way diminished the gravity of centuries of anti-Semitism in Poland.” This article is printed in its entirety