WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The European Jewish Congress expressed “grave concerns” Thursday over what it says is a rise in anti-Semitism in Poland and a “deteriorating relationship between the Polish government and the Jewish community.”
The Brussels-based organization says no Polish government minister has met with leaders of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, the official community, for around a year amid the rise in anti-Semitic incidents.
“Across Europe, governments consult with the local official leaders of the community to seek their counsel and coordinate a response to anti-Semitism,” the group’s president, Moshe Kantor, said. “However, Poland stands out as an example of a leadership which appears to have little interest in opening a dialogue with the Jewish community.”
The statement comes after Jewish leaders in Poland wrote to ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski in early August with their concerns, noting the increased presence in public life of extremist far-right groups and greater hate speech and violence targeting Jews.
They didn’t receive an answer or a meeting with Kaczynski, but within days Kaczynski met with several Jewish representatives from other organizations, including the Orthodox Chabad movement.
That meeting led to fears among official Jewish community representatives that Kaczynski was trying to marginalize them and whitewash the issue of anti-Semitism.
Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, said Jews still feel much safer in Poland than they do in parts of Europe where anti-Semitism is much stronger and sometimes violent, including France, Scandinavia and Hungary. But he said the situation is getting worse and “the biggest concern is a lack of communication with the government.”
“For first time in many years people are not feeling 100 percent comfortable, as they used to,” Schudrich told The Associated Press on Thursday. “It’s not that the government supports this but we need it to be more vigilant in articulating their rejection of any form of anti-Semitism or racism.”