Polish community leaders in Australia have protested the local speaking tour of a Polish radio presenter, who in the past claimed Jewish Holocaust victims have made a business of extorting compensation money from Poland, The Australian newspaper reported Sunday.
Stanislaw Michalkiewicz, who works for the Polish Catholic-owned Radio Maryja, is scheduled to tour mostly Polish churches and communal halls in Australia and New Zealand. The tour was organized by Nasza Polonia, described in the report as “a conservative Polish diaspora group.”
Aleksander Gancarz, president of the Australian Institute of Polish Affairs sent a letter to Polish community groups in Australia calling on them to denounce Michalkiewicz.
Speaking to The Australian, he described Michalkiewicz’s visit as “highly provocative.”
“Michalkiewicz’s past public statements breach the boundaries of the common moral code and civility,” he said. “They are extreme and offensive, especially to the Jewish community,” said Gancarz.
Michalkiewicz, an author and former politician, began his tour on Saturday. The report did not say how long the tour would last.
In March 2006, Michalkiewicz accused Jews of “trying to force our government to pay extortion money disguised as ‘compensation payments’” for property lost during and after World War II, and referred to the restitution efforts of Jewish groups as “Holocaust business.”
Also, ahead of a visit by Israeli politicians, Michalkiewicz once said that the former Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz, in Poland, is only “temporarily” closed, The Australian said.
Nasza Polonia Australia, which is paying for Michalkiewicz’s flights, defended the talking tour.
Its honorary president Adam Gajkowski said the group was “proud of the visit” and condemnation of Michalkiewicz was the result of “the very strong Jewish lobby.”
Peter Wertheim, co-chief executive of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry responded “the nonsense spouted by Michalkiewicz is symptomatic of the recent rise in the political fortunes of ultra-nationalist, anti-Semitic parties in Europe.”
JTA contributed to this report.