I have been listening to nothing else than to the conflict for two weeks. The conflict between: Poland and the world, Poland and Israel, and even Poland and Poland.
As it is with Jews from the Diaspora, more precisely with half-Jews who come from the Diaspora’s mixed marriages, it is hard to find the stance in these bipolar conflicts. It is just as if you sit in front of the mirror and you convince yourself that the one who is talking to you from the mirror is right!
So I sit in front of “the mirror” and I’m starting to explain it all to myself. Why? Because I’m from Poland, I’m a non-halachic Jewish woman, I’m involved in Polish politics, but I’m even more involved in building the Jewish community in Poland, and thanks to the current government I have found myself in a difficult situation.
There hasn’t been such a difficult situation in 30 years. Poland is conducting a diplomatic war with Israel, the USA and Ukraine. All because, as our government says, Poland has to get up off its knees again. Yeah, Poland got up and immediately hit the ceiling with its head. The country had forgotten that sometimes imagination and reality interfere with each other. I won’t explain the complicated history of the Holocaust which unfortunately took place on the Polish soil and that it had been absolutely planned by German Nazis. I also won’t create a scale to mark how much Polish people helped Nazis (a scale with a special notes: was it a volunteer work or was it a constraint). I’m not a historian, I’m a sociologist who wants both Poles and Jews to finish this dispute so that there will be the least possible damage left. Moreover, I’m close to Polish public affairs and politics and I care about the Polish welfare and the Poland’s good image in the international arena.
For many years a lot of amazing people, both Polish and Israeli, have been building a dialogue between the two nations. We were building the bridges, understanding, connections – the process have had many different names and what is the most important – it gave some results. Both nations were able to support each other, create together, exchange know-how of business, homeland security and social aspects whether it was at public or individual levels.
Suddenly, the Polish political situation changed. Yes, we have a majority government which pushes any kind of legislation through, without minding objections of the opposition. The government isn’t anti-Semitic and it doesn’t endorse anti-Semitism, but it evidently pursues the policy of allowing racism, nationalism, and mistakenly understood patriotism for internal political benefits. And honestly, I don’t know what’s more dangerous – opting for this policy or maybe the fact that the government is unable to control it? It’s not able to control this hidden Polish anti-Semitism that has come out like a genie out of its bottle. This anti-Semitism isn’t bigger than in any other country of the Western Europe, it is shown rather verbally than physically, but this is the anti-Semitism that had been looking for its way out and finally it found it under the auspices of the aforementioned mistakenly understood patriotism. It is hard to come into terms with it all and sometimes it scares me. It scares me not as a Jewish woman, but as a young European woman who can’t cope with this way of thinking. As a Polish citizen I have to face it. This is why we have elections, this is why we have a civil objection.
Dear Jews! We have Israel involved in this conflict. On the one hand, Israel protects the memory of the Holocaust and it promised all Israelis and all Jews all over the world that this what almost destroyed our Nation will never happen again but, on the other hand, in my opinion, the very same Israel supports a questionable education for its young citizens in the matter of the Holocaust. The March of Living , so-called Holocaust tours and a mild dose of Anti-Polish sentiment have lead to such a conflict as we are facing it today. Israelis, and I dare say in broaden terms Jews all over the world, took up the Anti-Polish sentiment rhetoric quite fast. We dig up true yet awful stories of our grandparents who lived through the Holocaust hell and we throw each other with them over and over again. I can’t listen to it anymore! It’s like standing in the middle of your parents’ argument. After sometime it just doesn’t make sense any more, but since you’re just a child and you’re alone in the middle, all you can do is to go outside and play in your sandbox, because no one will take your opinion seriously.
There are many people in their sandboxes – Polish Jews who from dusk till dawn are trying to explain and to stop this needless argument by giving interviews in different Polish and international media. Both parts of current conflict are represented by selfish politicians. They should make peace and shake their hands, but they won’t do this because both Israel and Polish polls are growing. Let them grow. Since we are left alone, we, the Israeli Jews and the Diaspora Jews, we have just met in one sandbox. Let’s make a deal that regardless of the conflict we won’t let someone to part us. Don’t let 30 years of our work for building the understanding between our nations be in vain only because democracy isn’t the most perfect state system.
There was a mistake made somewhere in Poland during the last election, but it shouldn’t matter for our relations. Currently, the government represents only about 35% of the society, the rest has been excluded from the public discussion. Please believe the majority does not think like that.
Dear Jews in the USA. I’m begging you, do not produce things like a spot for The Ruderman Family Foundation. Not only is it an evidence of the lack of knowledge, but also it is the lack of empathy towards thousands of Poles who died during WWII and it is an injustice to those who helped Jews during the war. Not to mention, that WE the Jews live here and you have to remember that we take responsibility for your acts, such as: The Ruderman Family Foundation spot or the Israeli policy against Palestine.
The Global Jewish Community isn’t just a nice name for international programs of young leaders, but it is also a responsibility for each other. We should bear that in mind. We are one nation in different colors depending on a territory and people with whom it surrounds itself. We are united in the responsibility for our acts, decisions or aims for which we strive. Don’t put our ambitions first before the safety of our nation.
Fortunately, the younger generation of Jews all over the world wasn’t affected with the war experience. Let it be our duty – to remember about the history of the Holocaust and to do everything that is possible so that such a history will never make a circle. Also, let us be guided by the principle “Repair the World” (tikkun olam). We have to leave the world behind us better, not more biased or divided against itself.
I firmly appeal to You all not just because the current situation is horrible, but because it will get worse. Very soon there will be submitted a draft decision for vote about the ban of ritual slaughter of animals in Poland. I can guarantee you that there will be a lot of fuss about it. There will be a lot of discussing and politicians will add fuel to the fire and I don’t know how it will end and what size of a destruction it will result in.
I can promise you one thing – I will be waiting in the sandbox for us and you, for Jews and Poles.
We will build a new better world if the politicians decide to destroy the one we all live in now.