Sunday, August 3, 2014

Anti-Semitism is Alive and Well in Poland

When we went to Poland, my oldest daughter and I, we were with a group of about 50 teenagers, parents and guides. The guard who came with us would check under the bus to see if there was a bomb. Wherever we went, we sang songs of hope, of compassion, of redemption. The songs were, in some cases, the very words sung by Jews on their way to

A few months ago, when Davidi went, they took an Israeli guard along. He checked the hotels before allowing the kids to enter.

Last Friday, a group from South Africa and Australia

Communities near Gaza hearing sirens: 7:02

a youth group and their counselors went to Auschwitz. When they tried to sing the same songs we did, the same songs sung 70 years ago as Jews were marched to their deaths, the guards yelled at them.

They were in an isolated area of the concentration camp, and still they were hounded. When the group kept singing, the guards called the police and the leader of the group was given a fine of $350.

Many of the children had grandparents who were prisoners and survivors. Many were in tears at the brutal way they were treated by the Auschwitz guards.

The counselor is demanding an immediate apology from the "management" of what is disgustingly referred to as the "Auschwitz Museum" and a return, in full, of the fine money that was taken from them.

I'll add that when we went, the female Polish guide we were forced to take, stood at the entrance to the death camp flirting with the Polish bus driver and the Polish camp guards while we walked among the dead and murdered.

When we got to Lodz, the Deputy Mayor came to address our small group. We were supposed to be honored - it was the 60th anniversary of something related to Lodz...maybe the liberation. Personally, I couldn't stomach the idea of listening to him and so I told the guides that after the Polish rabbi finished speaking, I was going to quietly slip out the back door. I stood in the back on purpose, hoping no one would notice.

I felt he had nothing to say to me. The Jews were all dead - there was nothing left to hear.

Amira looked torn - she wanted to go with me; she wanted to sit with the other girls. I told her to stay; that I'd be fine. I slipped out as planned and sat on the front steps of the museum where we had come to hear the mayor speak. A short while later, Amira came stamping outside. She had, in the middle of the speech, done exactly what a part of me had wanted to do...she stood up and walked out.

I asked her what he said, this Deputy Mayor of Lodz. She said that the man explained that there is no anti-Semitism in which, my daughter and I both elegantly snorted.

And the proof said the Deputy Mayor of Lodz, my daughter went on to explain, is three-fold:

1. The Poles don't have to guard the Jewish places anymore.

2. There aren't really any Jews left in Poland.

3. There is more anti-Semitism in Germany today.


NancyB said...

NancyB said...

Grzegorz said...

I am Polish and I do admire Israel and I am interested in Jewish culture. I must agree there is still a lot of anti-Semitism in Poland. Maybe it is because of shear stupidity, envy or guilt. It's a shame. But I found your description of your visit in Poland biased. You focused on nonexisting bombs under the bus and guards foribiding you to sing. The rules of the Auschwitz "museum" are: "Organized groups of visitors are required to hire a Museum guide." and "On the Museum grounds, visitors should behave with the appropriate solemnity and respect." Maybe your singing was misinterpreted by the guards as an unappropriate behaviour. For you it was a sign of Polish anti-Semitism, but maybe it is just a guard's lack of common sense or lack of understanding. I am not trying to whitewash anything - I wasn't there - but I just want to say there might be different explanation to people's behavior not only anti-Semitism. Be'ahavat Yisrael!

A Soldier's Mother said...

Hi Grzegorz,

Thank you for writing and for your support of my country. I would like to explain that while the bombs were thankfully non-existent, it was the Polish guard who felt the need to look. I actually didn't even understand what he was doing at first. I thought maybe he was checking the tires and so I finally asked him in English and he said "bomb".

The guards never forbade us to sing - this is an incident that happened this past Friday in Auschwitz. I am simply reporting the incident, the fine imposed, etc.

Yes, we understand that we had to hire a Museum guard, and we did. The fact that she was laughing and flirting with the other Poles bothered me because if anyone broke the rule to "behave with the appropriate solemnity and respect" it was this guide and not our group or the group that was there on Friday.

Finally, while I was in Poland, we had one drunk guy yell at us that Hitler was his friend; and in several places, we felt...again, this was only a feeling...much anger towards us as we walked to various places. Overall, it was not a welcoming feeling at all. While I would say that the drunk's words were anti-Semitic, I would not judge the coldness we felt as such.

But stopping Jews from singing and mourning at Auschwitz is anti-Semitic. My feeling at the in the gas chamber was that although Auschwitz is physically located in Poland, the crematoria, the gas chambers and mass graves belong, in a very real sense, to us.

NancyB said...

Thanks for yours and Amira's 1st person experiences that you've posted. I'm glad I found your blog where their is a consistent focus on reality. I'm increasingly very disturbed at the Orwellian - up is down and down is up - MSM coverage. It leaves me feeling infuriated as they spin each and every incident of coverage toward a Gazain double speak.

Living in So. CA a lot of our local TV coverage is filtered through the LA superficial bubble. Here is one Hollywood actor who I now have significant respect for, Jon Voight:

My name is Jon Voight and I am more than angry, I am heartsick that people like Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem could incite anti-Semitism all over the world and are oblivious to the damage they have caused.

They are obviously ignorant of the whole story of Israel’s birth, when in 1948 the Jewish people were offered by the UN a portion of the land originally set aside for them in 1921, and the Arab Palestinians were offered the other half. The Arabs rejected the offer, and the Jews accepted, only to be attacked by five surrounding Arab countries committed to driving them into the sea. But the Israelis won. The Arabs tried it again in 1967, and again in 1973, launching a sneak attack on the holiest Jewish holiday. Each time the Jews prevailed but not without great loss of life. And when Israel was not fighting a major war, it was defending itself against terrorist campaigns. (continued)

NancyB said...

And yet Israel has always labored for a peaceful relation with its Arab neighbors. It voluntarily returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in return for peace, and gave the Palestinians all of Gaza as a peace gesture. What was the response? The Palestinians elected Hamas, a terrorist organization, and they immediately began firing thousands of rockets into Israel.

After years of trying to make peace, the wars they had to fight, being attacked by their enemies, and still being attacked, and finally after years of running into bomb shelters and having hundreds of civilians killed by suicide bombers, civilians being killed in their sleep, stabbed to pieces, finding enough is enough and finally retaliating, instead of my peers sticking up for the only democratic country in that region, they go and take out poison letters against them.

You have forgotten how this war started. Did Hamas not kidnap and kill three young teenagers for the sake of killing, and celebrated after the killing? What a travesty of justice.

I am asking all my peers who signed that poison letter against Israel to examine their motives. Can you take back the fire of anti-Semitism that is raging all over the world now?

You have been able to become famous and have all your monetary gains because you are in a democratic country: America. Do you think you would have been able to accomplish this in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, et cetera? You had a great responsibility to use your celebrity for good. Instead, you have defamed the only democratic country of goodwill in the Middle East: Israel.

You should hang your heads in shame. You should all come forth with deep regrets for what you did, and ask forgiveness from the suffering people in Israel.

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