Marek Magierowski, the Polish ambassador to Israel, denied that a Jewish cemetery in Świdnica, south-western Poland, had been devastated and called on Israeli media to remove articles with allegations about it.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported on Tuesday that 15 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Świdnica had been smashed and others had graffiti painted on them. The agency claims that it based its reports on Polish websites wmeritum.com and Publiszer.
Editors of wmeritum.pl tweeted that wmeritum.com is a website publishing fake news and impersonating wmeritum.pl.
Marcin Makowski, a Polish journalist of “Do Rzeczy” weekly and Wirtualna Polska news website, tweeted that Israeli media are writing about the devastation of the Jewish cemetery in Świdnica based on the JTA report “in a response to the Polish-Jewish crisis.” He added that photographs used to illustrate articles are four years old and concern an act of vandalism by a Satanist group in Olkusz, southern Poland. “This is how propaganda works,” Mr Makowski tweeted.
The Polish ambassador in Israel also reacted to these revelations. He tweeted that he had spoken with the Deputy Mayor of Świdnica who confirmed that no such incident had occurred there.
There was no devastation of the cemetery in Świdnica, the photos are from Olkusz 4 years ago, no one in Poland takes revenge on Israel for the diplomatic crisis. This is what FACTS look like, NOT FAKE NEWS @JTAnews @Jerusalem_Post @TimesofIsrael - correct https://t.co/mMIGcCTlOC— Marcin Makowski (@makowski_m) February 20, 2019
The local police confirm that there have been no recorded acts of vandalism at the cemetery recently. “We have not received any notifications about such incidents at this cemetery,” a spokesperson for the police in Świdnica told local swidnica24.pl news website.
I have just spoken to Deputy Mayor of Swidnica, #Poland. NOTHING happened at the #Jewish #cemetery in that city. This is just a plain lie. Please, remove this part of the story. @SamuelSokol @KasiaMarkusz @JTAnews @RaphaelAhren @makowski_m https://t.co/OenfziidEW— Marek Magierowski (@mmagierowski) February 20, 2019
This is not the first time that the issue of "damaged graves" has appeared in a Polish context. "Unknown perpetrators" damaging graves of Soviet Red Army soldiers in Poland is something which appeared regularly in the Soviet communist press during the time of the rise of Solidarity between 1980 and 1981. There have since been isolated incidents of graves of Soviet soldiers being damaged, all of them reported at high speed by Russian news agencies. These incidents are usually events that take place during tensions between Russia and Poland.
The dispute between Poland and Israel started after an alleged statement of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu about the cooperation of Poles and Nazi Germans in the Holocaust.
The Israeli FM Yisrael Katz on Monday quoted Yitzhak Shamir, the former PM of this country, who said that “Poles have suckled anti-Semitism with their mother’s milk.”
Poland responded by withdrawing its delegation from the summit of Visegrad Group and Israel. The summit was finally cancelled and changed into bilateral talks between representatives of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary with Israeli authorities.