Nations, Church Decry Displays of Anti-Semitism on Holiday

Polish nationalists shouted 'Death to Jews' during Independence Day celebrations
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 13, 2021 3:50 PM CST
Nations, Church Decry Displays of Anti-Semitism on Holiday
Riders wearing historic outfits take part the annual Independence Day march in Warsaw.   (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Israeli and Polish government officials on Saturday condemned an antisemitic incident involving Polish nationalists chanting "Death to Jews" on Poland's Independence Day this week. Participants at the gathering also burned a copy of a medieval document that offered Jews protection and rights in Polish lands, the AP reports. The public expression of hatred occurred in the central Polish city of Kalisz on Thursday amid holiday celebrations across Poland. The leaders of the event also referred to LGBT people and "Zionists" as "enemies of Poland" who need to be expelled.

Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said Saturday he hoped that "the people who organized the shameful and scandalous assembly in Kalisz on November 11 will suffer legal consequences." Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid welcomed the “unequivocal condemnation" by Polish authorities and said Jewish people "expect the Polish government to act uncompromisingly against those who took part in this shocking display of hate." Poland’s influential Catholic Church also also strongly condemned the outpouring of hatred. "The horrific antisemitic incident," Lapid added, "reminds every Jew in the world of the strength of hatred that exists in the world."

Poland's Independence Day celebrations have in recent years been overshadowed by events led by far-right groups. The largest on Thursday was in Warsaw. The mayor tried to ban it, and he had court backing, but Poland's right-wing government gave the march the status of a state ceremony—the latest example of the ruling nationalists seeking to curry favor with extreme groups. Poland was for centuries one of the most welcoming European lands for Jews; some 3.3 million were living in Poland on the eve of World War II. Most were murdered by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. Today, the Jewish community numbers only in the thousands.

(Read more anti-Semitism stories.)

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