Anti-migrant resentment boiled over into anti-Semitism in Poland on Wednesday, when a protest against taking in Muslim refugees ended with the burning of an effigy of an ultra-Orthodox Jew holding the flag of the European Union.
Several dozen people were reported in attendance at the rally, in the western Polish city of Wroclaw, which was held in response to last Friday’s Paris terrorist attacks, one of whose perpetrators was said to have entered the EU with the flood of Syrian refugees.
The crown shouted: “United Catholic Poland! National radicalism! Down with the European Union!” The demonstration was organized by the National Radical Camp and All-Polish Youth.
“Our duty, the duty of lawmakers and the government, is to say that we won’t take a single Islamist in to Poland because Poland is for Poles,” proclaimed one of the demonstration’s speakers. .
At the end of the demonstration one of the participants set fire to a previously prepared effigy of a haredi Jew as the crowd chanted, “God, honor and fatherland!” “What happened last night in Wroclaw is outrageous and concerning. We cannot help but to remember how Jews were burnt in effigy in the 1930’s and today by Hamas,” Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
“We are moved by the strong moral voice and clear condemnation of this action by the Mayor of Wroclaw, Rafal Dutkiewicz.
We are certain that others in Poland will do the same very soon,” he said.
“Poland has a new government and it appears that anti-Semites like ONR are under the belief that they have support from this new government for such actions. We are certain that this is not true but we also hope to hear clear and moral statements to this effect in the very near future. This is just one more example showing how the hatred for migrants comes from the same place as the classic hatred for Jews.”
While scholars largely agree that, unlike countries such as Lithuania, the former eastern bloc nation has for the most part faced up to its anti-Semitic past, there is progress still to be made and issues related to Holocaust memory and Jew hatred still occasionally come up.
Wednesday’s incident comes only a week after the nominee for the country’s defense minister came under fire by Jewish groups for stating that, while there are doubts as to the authenticity of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, it does contain a kernel of truth.
“I read it. It is very interesting. Some say it is authentic, some say it’s not. I am not a specialist. Experience shows that there are such groups in Jewish circles,” said Antoni Macierewicz.
JTA contributed to this report.