Polish senator calls for Israeli ambassador’s expulsion

Polish Senator Zaryn: Israeli ambassador should get the boot for saying anti-Semitism in Poland is on the rise.

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Polish Senate
Polish Senate

A Polish senator for the ruling party said he would not shake hands with Israel’s ambassador and that he favors her expulsion from Poland for saying anti-Semitism was on the rise there.

Jan Zaryn said this during an interview published Friday by the wPolsce news site.

“If anyone today thinks to equate in any way the rule of the Law and Justice party to the persecution of Jews led by the communist party apparatus in 1968, or by the marshals, then I certainly will not shake hands with such a person. If this is done by the ambassador of a foreign state, then maybe we have to ask this lady to leave this country,” he is quoted as saying.

His comments about Anna Azari come amid a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Poland over anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. The crisis began with the passing of a law in January that criminalizes ascribing “responsibility or co-responsibility to the Polish nation or state for crimes committed by the German Third Reich.” It applies to both citizens of Poland as well as foreign citizens.

Several Jewish groups said the law impedes open debate and risks censoring research. Other critics of the law said it whitewashes documented Polish complicity proving that at least 200,000 Jews were murdered by Poles during the Holocaust..

The passage of the law unleashed a wave of anti-Semitic hate speech online and several real-life anti-Semitic incidents, which Azari last month condemned. According to the Never Again watchdog on anti-Semitism, the volume of anti-Semitic hate speech in Poland since January exceeds that observed in the entire preceding decade.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last month called “outrageous” the remark of his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, who said in an interview that the Holocaust had not only German, Ukrainian and Polish perpetrators, but Jewish ones, too.

The United States has also publicly condemned Poland’s legislation on discourse about the Holocaust and, according to one report, is resolved not to host Poland’s senior leadership until the crisis is resolved.

Azari revisited this issue during a speech last week at an event in Warsaw commemorating the events of March 1968. That year, a student uprising that began over the expulsion of two Jews critical of communism from the University of Warsaw prompted a government-led campaign of anti-Semitic incitement that ended with the emigration of tens of thousands of Jews. They left their possessions in Poland and were stripped of their Polish nationality.

Since January, “it has been very easy to wake up and recall all anti-Semitic demons in Poland,” Azari said in the speech.