Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, whose cancellation of Poland’s appearance led to the calling off of the Visegrad Summit said that 'we should not allow some radicals to rewrite history'.
Interviewed by Haaretz this week, after the eruption of the current diplomatic crisis between Israel and Poland, Mr Morawiecki expressed dismay by the comments of interim Foreign Minister Israel Katz, who quoted former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir when he said, “The Poles suckled anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk.”
Reaction to remarks by acting Israeli FM
This remark, says Mr Morawiecki, was the reason Poland called off its participation in the Visegrad summit which was scheduled to be held in Israel.
“I have no problem with someone mentioning the fact that during the cruel, evil, dehumanising war there were individual criminals in my nation – obviously there were, just as in every other nation,” said PM Morawiecki. “But when you use these stereotypes that ‘every Pole suckled anti-Semitism out of their mother’s breast’ it’s nothing short of racism.”
Mr Morawiecki went further in his reaction to Mr Katz’s slur. “When I first heard of this it seemed totally unbelievable. Such words could be used by a radical extremist, but not by a foreign minister.”
The Polish PM refuses to accept such charges. “Poland is no longer afraid. We experienced terrible war and decades of occupation, and we were not able to defend ourselves from accusations. But now Poland will no longer give in to a pressure to accept lies, misleading phrases, let alone racist insults,” he says.
Polish Internet users responded to the words of the Israeli Foreign Minister, who accused Poles of “suckling anti-Semitism with their mother’s...see more
Anti-semitism in Poland marginal
Asked about anti-semitism in Poland he argued that it was marginal.
“We also have to cope with some anti-Semitism in Poland, but fortunately it is marginal,” he said, citing the recent report of the European Fundamental Rights Agency. “Poland is one of the few countries in the EU where the number of anti-Semitic incidents is decreasing, while in many others we are witnessing worrying developments,” he said, noting that anti-Semitism appears to be on the rise in countries like France, Germany Sweden and Britain.
“Let me stress it again: This plague is marginal in Poland. It saddens me that anti-Polonism seems to be the position of one of the top Israeli officials,” underlined the Polish Prime Minister.
Trying to defuse tensions
Asked to comment on the current crisis between the two countries, Morawiecki tried to reduce tension. “I don’t think there is a deep crisis between Poland and Israel. I understand that in the course of an electoral campaign some politicians want to make headlines. But in general, my government is one of the most pro-Israeli in the EU and in the United Nations. We openly criticized the BDS initiatives (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) aimed against Israel. The V4 summit in Jerusalem was supposed to become yet another step in building friendship between us and Israel – it was to be actually the first V4 summit ever to be held outside of our region.”