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2 US senators warn Poland’s president on anti-Semitism and restitution

Pointing to recent election, Nevada and Oklahoma lawmakers highlight ‘growing anti-Semitic discourse in Poland and scapegoating of the Jewish community’

President Andrzej Duda of Poland speaks to the media in front of remains of the Berlin Wall, November 9, 2019. (John Macdougall/AFP via Getty Images)
President Andrzej Duda of Poland speaks to the media in front of remains of the Berlin Wall, November 9, 2019. (John Macdougall/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two US senators wrote President Andrzej Duda of Poland to express their concern about a rise in what they said was anti-Semitic discourse, citing one of his own statements.

The letter sent Tuesday by Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., and James Lankford, R-Okla., on several occasions notes the close defense ties of the United States and Poland and suggests a failure to address the anti-Semitism, and to advance Holocaust restitution, could impede the growth of the relationship.

Much of the rhetoric singled out in the letter, which was released Wednesday, has to do with the debate in Poland over Holocaust restitution. It became an issue in the recent presidential campaign when Duda, a member of the ruling Law and Justice party, won reelection.

“We are alarmed by growing anti-Semitic discourse in Poland and scapegoating of the Jewish community, which run counter to our nations’ shared values,” the letter said. “Specifically, during Poland’s 2020 presidential campaign, the Law and Justice Party and state television peddled anti-Semitic tropes and thinly veiled demagoguery.”

Presidential candidate Rafal Trzaskowski, with wife Malgorzata during the presidential election in Warsaw, Poland, June 28, 2020 (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

It cited a number of insinuations that Duda’s rival in the election, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, was in the pocket of Jews pressing the restitution issue.

Among these was a July 9 statement by Duda.

“I will never sign a bill which says that we will treat the inheritance of people from one ethnic group more favorably than from others,” he said.

Lankford and Rosen, who co-chair the Senate’s Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Anti-Semitism, also said in the letter: “In addition to putting Poland’s Jewish community at risk, these troubling statements undermine Poland’s obligations under the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues. We know you share our desire to strengthen the US-Poland partnership, which is why we call on you to unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism, including when propagated by the Law and Justice Party and your political allies, and to adopt comprehensive legislation on Holocaust-era property restitution.”

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