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Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Poland: What to do when an oppressed group’s speech is anti-Semitic?

The answer to the headline’s question is: to acknowledge the oppression and how grave it is and to add that that still doesn’t justify Jews’ hatred.

It is not helpful enough when each side only stands up for its own suffering and victimhood — or worse: competes who was hurt more. Both are right and both were hurt but both sides need to acknowledge the other’s truth and pain too – and not equate the sufferings either.

What we certainly don’t need is to muffle (“deescalate“) the truth, soften it all up and just put a bandage on the old wounds. The truth should be said out-loud, but the truth of both sides.

Ethnic Poles and Polish culture were targeted monstrously by the Nazis and their warped racist outlook. Unlike with the Jews, their goal was not to eradicate Slaves but their culture needed to be destroyed and the Slave to be degraded and enslaved. They too were considered inferior to Aryans.

Unfortunately, anti-Semitism had been virulent before, during and after WW II in Poland. Not for nothing, Nazi-Germany established most of the extermination camps on Polish soil. In the Netherlands it would have been unthinkable. There wasn’t enough Jews’ hatred around to do that.

It is true that Poland had a record number of Gentiles who risked their very lives and that of their families helping and hiding and saving Jews. The enormity of that cannot be overstated.

However, the Polish Heroes do not wipe away Polish hatred of Jews, in thought, action and inaction. They may have partly saved the self-respect and honor of Poles but these Defenders of Jews are mostly questioning why so many did nothing and an indictment of the ones who aided the Nazis.

Modern-day Germany shows that national pride doesn’t come from arguing away a less than perfect past but rather from acknowledging and disavowing what wasn’t that good.

Nazi-Germany did not invent nor import anti-Semitism into Poland. And the very denial of Polish anti-Semitism is anti-Semitic itself. As can be seen in it arousing more anti-Semitism.

Way before WW II, Poland was notoriously known for its anti-Semitism. Apparently, it is not cured of it yet.

Polish politicians vouching for their friendship for “the Jewish nation” (sic) but denying past and present anti-Semitism does not cut it. Neither will publicity seeking Jews and their media who plead for civility. Nor amateurish US diplomats trying to sound “reasonable.” Nor looking at other aspects of the Israeli-Polish relationship.

The denial of historic (and present) anti-Semitism goes further than trying to whitewash a stained past. It makes that one calls the persecutors persecuted and vise-versa and it muddles all clear thinking about Jews. Now Poland even wants to engage the Iranian regime in the Middle-East peace process. If Hitler were alive, they would slot him in too?

Dual acknowledgment (of Poles’ suffering and complicity) is not only in this issue appropriate.

  • Japanese soldiers were crueler than the Nazis but now, the Japanese hide their participation in a monstrous regime behind their victimhood of the racist targeting of two of their large cities by US atom bombs.
  • Also the Dutch — until today — hide their passivity about and collaboration with the Nazi occupier by complaining about having been victimized by Hitler, by pointing out the resistance (which was mainly nationalistic, not anti-Nazi, and ignored the plight of its Jews) and highlighting the exceptional number of savers of Jews.

Also in issues not connected to WW II, dual acknowledgment can save the day, for instance regarding abortions. Every human life is worth saving and women must decide for themselves. Recognition of both plights may shift the attention from mutual recriminations to joint efforts for prevention of unwanted pregnancies and adaption programs.

How lovely it would be if both states would not deliver a dual message but just acknowledged each other’s pain. Poland decrying its anti-Semitic past and present and Israel voicing empathy for the ethnic cleansing the Nazis attempted on the Slaves. Win-win if ever there was such a possibility.

Say it loudly and proudly. Nothing else and no beating around the bush anymore.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 1500 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/ or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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