The complexity of contemporary Poland was underscored by the two news articles on Poles and Jews published side by side (In Poland, a Jewish Revival Thrives – Minus Jews and Call to Punish Polish Priest for Anti-Semitic Remarks, July 12, 2007).
Anti-Semitism has not disappeared from Polish soil any more than it has vanished from other countries in Europe. The anti-Semitic broadcasts on Radio Maryja, which enjoys a large national audience, not to mention the recent assault on the Polish chief rabbi, are sobering reminders of the danger of what has been called the world’s oldest social pathology.
Yet Poland, since courageously overthrowing Communism in 1989, has made tremendous strides in building strong links with Israel, enhancing ties with world Jewry, and creating a welcoming climate for Jewish renewal. These laudable efforts have been supported by successive governments and bolstered by dedicated civic institutions like the Forum for Dialogue Among Nations.
The American Jewish Committee, which has been active in Polish-Jewish relations for decades, can attest to the dramatic change under way. Significant gains have been achieved against the backdrop of an anguished and multilayered history. Indeed, the increasingly vibrant Polish-Jewish relationship should be seen as a metaphor for the triumph of hope over despair.
David A. Harris
American Jewish Committee
New York, July 12, 2007