(Updated in light of new evidence; see end of article)
Another article has appeared in the international media expressing concern at the actions of the new Polish government, this time from the Washington Post, which reports on fears of a ‘creeping coup d’etat’ taking place. However, as with much foreign coverage of the country, the piece is over-simplistic, exaggerated and fails to provide context.
In particular, the description of the new defense minister, Antoni Macierewicz, as an ‘outspoken anti-Semite’ is rather far-fetched. The accusation – which has recently appeared in a number of Western media outlets – is based on a slightly ambiguous statement made 13 years ago by Macierewicz in a radio interview, in which he appeared to partially endorse the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He recently attempted to clarify his remarks, claiming that his words had been ‘manipulated’ and confirming that he ‘condemns anti-Semitism in all its forms’. Continue reading
Daniel Tilles examines a new plaque placed alongside the infamous Jewish ritual murder painting in the Sandomierz Cathedral, proposing that the plaque represents both a sign of positive progress and a missed opportunity to offer a more honest appraisal of a dark episode in the history of the town and the Catholic Church in Poland.
In the Middle Ages, the Polish lands were often a haven for Jews escaping persecution in the West, but the myth of Jewish ritual murder arrived from other parts of Europe to take a strong hold among some members of the clergy, who encouraged its spread through the broader population. Tilles offers a critical assessment of the Polish Church’s recent attempts to come to terms with this history, while giving credit to those within the Church and beyond who have sought to further the cause of positive Jewish-Catholic relations in Poland.