WARSAW (JTA) — A Jewish association has released what is being called the first report on antisemitism conducted with direct input from Polish Jewish community organizations, counting 488 incidents in 2022 submitted via an online portal and collected through extensive interviews with community members.
The incident total released on Monday by the Czulent Jewish Association is more than four times the number reported for 2021 by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.
The report’s lead author, Anna Zielińska, said 86% of incidents involved online harassment and insults. She added that the word “Jew” is frequently used online to label an “enemy” as “disloyal, an outsider and unpatriotic.”
“There is not a Polish politician who hasn’t been called a Jew,” Zielińska told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Czulent’s 2022 report detailed one violent act that resulted in injury, four additional violent attacks, 20 threats, 34 instances of damage to Jewish property and memorial sites, 68 cases of antisemitic mass mailings and 372 instances of “abusive” behavior. Zielińska said there was no way to know the real number antisemitic incidents that occur because the “internet is a bottomless pit of hate.”
She is convinced that Czulent, a nongovernmental organization promoting tolerance that cooperates closely with Polish Jewish communities, has just scratched the surface.
“Time and again when I interviewed people they told me they were reluctant to report incidents because it wouldn’t change anything,” said Zielińska, a member of the Warsaw Jewish Community, one of the multiple communal groups under the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland umbrella.
Antisemitic hate speech is more part of the public discourse than it was a decade ago, she added, and focuses on conspiracy theories such as a Jewish involvement in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Czulent report documented 84 cases of public antisemitic statements that were also anti-Ukrainian. When Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki met earlier this month with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish, the Polish leaders were accused online of serving Jewish causes, according to Zielińska.
“The context of the Ukrainian-Russian war was used to attack Jews more freely and seemingly legally,” said Zielińska. “In this way antisemitism is being used to discourage the public from supporting Ukrainian refugees.”
Over the past four years, some of the most high-profile antisemitic language in the political arena has been deployed by Grzegorz Braun, a leader of the far-right Confederation Liberty and Independence Party. Braun’s most recent target has been Ukrainian refugees, whom he accuses of seeking to create a “Ukro-Poland” — a reference to “Judeo-Poland,” an expression popularized in the early 20th century by politicians who said Jews wanted to replace Poland with their own state.
In 2019, while he was campaigning, Braun said the United States was a “political and military tool of Jewish blackmail against Poland” and wrote that “Jews have waged war against the Polish nation for centuries, in fact against the whole Christian world.” His party, referred to in Poland as Confederation, is the country’s third most popular, with support from 11% of the electorate, according to a March survey by the independent polling agency Ipsos.
In the upcoming fall parliamentary elections, some analysts have predicted that the ruling right-wing Law and Justice party, which spends significant funds on Jewish monuments and culture, will need the support of Confederation and its voters to form a government. That is one reason some Law and Justice leaders have at times turned a blind eye towards antisemitism, the party’s critics allege.
“We wrote Law and Justice that they had antisemitic comments on their Facebook feed and they didn’t remove them,” Zielińska added.
Over the past five years, specific political developments have fueled negative attitudes towards Jews, she noted. In 2019, thousands of Polish nationalists protested in front of the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw against U.S. efforts to require Poland to compensate Jews whose families lost property during the Holocaust.
Michael Schudrich, Poland’s chief rabbi, said that although he agreed that online public discourse in Poland could be antisemitic, violent acts of antisemitism were incredibly rare. In 2006, a man who yelled “Poland is for Poles,” hit Schudrich and attacked him with pepper spray.
“Thousands of Hasidim come to Poland each year for various anniversaries and there has never been a real problem” he said. “And as for me, the only time anyone attacked me was under a left-wing government.”
He said he sees no evidence that antisemitism in Poland is on the rise, but he believes the government’s push for a nationalistic patriotic narrative of the past — focused on Polish heroism during the Holocaust — and its courting of the extreme right has had consequences.
“Antisemites today feel more empowered to say what’s on their minds,” he said.
Jews in Poland range in number from more than 15,000, according to a government census, to fewer than 10,000, according to the World Jewish Congress.
Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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