The tragic events of October 7 are an opportunity for Poles and Jews to rediscover their roots and relations.
We are in this fight together. The global evil wants to enslave and exterminate us. As a Pole, I admire how Jews are able to defend themselves against terror.
I agree with Jewish commentators who warn Europeans against this global emerging evil. It’s going to be much worse in Europe, because we’re nowhere near as prepared as you are in Israel. Getting a gun here is hard. Sure, I know it’s about preventing the crazies from getting guns, but people want to be ready. Russia is planning who knows what. Religious fanatics and other zealots are extremely emboldened. Not a pretty picture.
Polish-Jewish history is complex, to say the least. I won’t go into all the details because you have heard it all before – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m not going to try to convince you everyone in Poland loves Jews. That would be a propagandistic lie. Love it or hate it, a thousand years of shared history links us. I’ve recently learned that Jews were respected financial managers in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Polish nobles, in particular, held Jewish money managers in high regard.
I come across Polish people who, after we exchange views for a while, tell me they are Jewish. Let’s be honest: many, if not most, Poles have a Jewish ancestor. Sure, some Poles don’t like that fact, I don’t understand why. I’m guessing this lingering reluctance to acknowledge one’s Jewish roots could be a leftover, a traumatic collective memory of sorts, going back to World War II, when being Jewish was pretty much a death sentence. It has nothing to do with antisemitism. Look, all I’ve mentioned is nothing compared to what we’re up against today. Polish-Jewish relations are good.
Poland is a safe place for Jewish people. Even the word pogrom is Russian, and I’m willing to bet that many pogroms Poles were blamed for had actually been carried out/instigated by Russians. I wouldn’t be surprised if Volhynia – a terrible example of Ukrainian brutality during World War 2 – had Russians involved in it somehow. I know not every Russian is a demon, or a zombie. Sadly, as a collective, Russians are known for their barbaric ways. I’m not surprised in the least they openly support Hamas.
I don’t need to tell you human life in Russia isn’t exactly valued. Not much, if anything, has changed since 1945 in that regard. 1945? How about 1545.
The list of influential Polish Jews is impressive. It reads like a superhero movie. Maksymilian Faktorowicz, better known as Max Factor – the genius mind behind the global popularity of makeup. Warner Brothers. Blinken’s stepfather, Samuel Pisar. Stanislaw Ulam , the co-discoverer of hydrogen bomb. Who could forget Wolf Messing, the man who claimed he could manipulate your mind to make you see him however he wanted to? Even Stalin was supposedly afraid of him. Jankiel, the wise, old Jewish tsimbl (dulcimer) player featured in Pan Tadeusz, the epic masterpiece by Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz. I remember reading Pan Tadeusz in school – the epic masterpiece part is debatable, but don’t quote me on that.
Here’s to Polish-Jewish relations!
(Raises an imaginary glass)