Tory Party ironies from London to Poland

Burning a copy of the Statute of Kalisz, issued in the 13th century, granting Jews legal protection and rights in Poland

JVL Introduction

David Rosenberg comments on the irony of the British government, condemning supposed antisemitism at the LSE earlier in the week (actually a protest at the racist Israeli ambassador), but running to lend support to the openly antisemitic, xenophobic, homophobic and misogynist government of Poland.

His commentary is followed by a report on the “Death to Jews” march in Kalisz.

This article was originally published by Davesrebellion on Sat 13 Nov 2021. Read the original here.

Tory Party ironies from London to Poland

Ironies can be beautiful or ugly. I’ll go with ugly for this one. A few days ago Tory ministers were fuming about students at the LSE who had the temerity to protest at the presence of an out and out racist, a believer in ethnic cleansing, a defender of an illegal occupation that daily inflicts human rights abuses on Palestinians. The protesters against Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely, who included Jewish students, were ludicrously condemned by these ministers for “antisemitism”.

Today those Tory ministers are defending a decision to send a team of UK troops to Poland to assist a government widely condemned for its antisemitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and misogyny in recent months and years, in its efforts to prevent asylum seekers crossing the border into Poland, into the EU from Belarus.

The point of attempted entry is in the forests on the Poland/Belarus border. In recent weeks the Polish border guard presence has multiplied. They have created a two-mile deep militarised zone where they have been building a razor-wire fence creating dozens of checkpoints, and keeping human rights observers away.

And here the ironies multiply too. In October 1943, 300 inmates of Sobibor, the Nazi death camp, who led an uprising and mass escape ran for safety into those same forests. Only a few dozen survived, Most were hunted down by groups of Polish partisans in the forests who were against German occupation, but were also deeply antisemitic.

Today, Poles in local villages there are urged to report on those “who look like they don’t belong” to border guards.

The British Government will claim that their military team are merely giving “engineering” support to the Polish government against a dastardly plan by Belarus, but in reality they are colluding with a far-right government in actions against the human rights of asylum seekers.

If the Tories want to chat more with their Polish government counterparts, why don’t they ask them about what happened elsewhere in Poland two days ago (11 November), when that government overruled the decision by Warsaw’s (more liberal) mayor to ban a provocative ultra-nationalist independence Day march through Warsaw’s capital in which neo-Nazi organisations played a very prominent role.

Why don’t they ask them about events in Kalisz Western Poland that same day where a similar demonstration took place and witnessed virulent antisemitism? There were chants of “Death to Jews”, and cheering as a replica of the “Calisian statute” of 1264, which protected Jewish autonomy and safety there, was symbolically burned.

The Tory Party are adept at imagining antisemitism on an anti-racist protest at LSE, but have long closed their eyes to antisemitism stoked by their allies in Poland’s ultra-nationalist right wing government, and the forces further right that Poland’s “Law and Justice” government tolerates and fuels.


“Death to Jews” chanted at torchlit far-right march in Polish city

Hundreds of people joined a far-right march in the city of Kalisz yesterday at which participants chanted “Death to Jews” and burned a copy of a famous historical document that granted Jews the right to settle in Poland.

Their actions have been criticised by the mayor, who has notified prosecutors of a potential crime and passed on police recordings of the event. The organiser of the march – an extremist figure with pro-Russian views – is already under investigated by the authorities over his provocative behaviour.

The event took place on Poland’s Independence Day, but was unrelated to the much larger nationalist march that passed through Warsaw.

In Kalisz, a city of 100,000 people in central Poland, participants marched to the historic market square chanting “death to enemies of the fatherland”, reported local news website Nasze Miasto.

Then, in front of the town hall, members of the crowd shouted “death to Jews” while a copy of the Statute of Kalisz was burned. The latter document, issued in the 13th century, granted Jews legal protection and rights in Poland at a time when they were facing persecution elsewhere in Europe.

The crowd then chanted “this is Poland, not Polin”, referring to the Hebrew name for Poland. The slogan is often used by Polish nationalists to suggest that alleged Jewish influence over Poland must be removed.

Burning a copy of the Statute of Kalisz, issued in the 13th century, granting Jews legal protection and rights in Poland – a short video

“LGBT, pederasts and Zionists are the enemies of Poland,” declared the organiser of the march, Aleksander Jabłoński, quoted by Onet. During his speech he also criticised Covid vaccines.

“Polish-speaking people from Israel are working against the Polish nation under hidden names,” said another speaker, Piotr Rybak, a far-right figure who was previously convicted for burning a Jewish effigy in public. “We will chase off this mob to Israel, just like in 1968.”

The latter remark was a reference to purges in communist Poland that saw thousands of Jews driven out of the country in the late 1960s.

“Jews are behind the pandemic,” chant crowd at Polish anti-vaccine protest in July 2021

Local historian Maciej Błachowicz condemned the march, and in particular the burning of the Statute of Kalisz, which he likened to the burning of books during the Nazis’ Kristallnacht pogroms of 1938. He blamed the city’s mayor, Krystian Kinastowski, for not ordering the march to be dissolved, reports TVP.

This morning, Kinastowski issued a statement condemning the march and expressing his pride in Kalisz’s “multicultural and tolerant” history. This afternoon, he confirmed that he had issued a notification to prosecutors regarding the possible committing of crimes by the organisers.

The local branch of far-right party Confederation (Konfederacja), whose members and supporters have often appeared alongside Jabłonowski, also distanced themselves from the march, pointing out that they did not organise or participate in it, notes TVP.

Comments (3)

  • rc says:

    Even the Groaniad (Sat 13 Nov p 42) admits that “it is not clear why ‘Poland’ (that is, the Polish government – brc) feels it needs British engineering assistance given its sizeable existing presence of troops on its eastern border” and proceeds to speculate that both countries have quarrels with the EU. Grasping at straws, since their target is the government of Belarus, which certainly has issues with the EU! A bare section (ten REME squaddies) are to be hostages in a wider geopolitical “Drang nach Osten”. Their immediate recall would be a service to world peace.
    The answer lies in broader geopolitics: The leitmotiv of Western ‘democratic’ foreign policy has been demonizing
    Russia, ever since NATO swindled Gorbachev into believing that NATO would extend no further east than the INNER German frontier (that between the then FDR and the DDR). AS soon as the Western puppet Yeltsin was replaced by the nationalist Putin, this demonizing has gone in to overdrive. The US orders Germany to to obey Russian ‘orders’ truly a democratic demarche. A show of arms against Lukashenka is plainly designed to counter Putin’s overtures to Minsk. Poles may remember the inertia of the UK when Hitler invaded Poland – it is understandable that the extreme nationalists in the Polish government look for a pretext for threatening Belarus – most of which had been seized by Poland in 1918-21.

  • James Simpson says:

    We in the UK must recognise that we have elected a far-right government. This kind of behaviour is inevitable. Sadly, we have a Labour opposition that does not do its job of opposing the Tories nor of presenting a viable alternative.

  • George Peel says:

    I’m trying to decide if it’s ‘ironic’ that The Jewish Chronicle refers to Kristallnacht, in their article condemning the LSE protest against the Israeli Ambassador, in London, and – almost, simultaneously – a Pole references Kristallnacht, in condemning the symbolic burning of a historic document, written to protect the autonomy and safety of Jews, in Poland.

    Surely, both can’t be right?

    For now, I shall, just, have to content myself with being saddened, at the need to reference Kristallnacht, in relation to either.

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