WARSAW, Poland — Israel called a far-right march that took place in Warsaw “a dangerous march of extreme and racist elements,” and urged Polish authorities to act against the organizers Monday.
The Independence Day march Saturday was organized by groups that trace their roots to radical nationalist, pre-World War II anti-Semitic groups.
Some 60,000 people took part, including families with children, but also young men carrying banners with messages including “White Europe of brotherly nations.”
Some participants chanted anti-Semitic slogans such as “Pure Poland, Jew free Poland,” “Jews out of Poland,” and “Refugees get out.”
A number of participants carried the Celtic Cross, a white supremacist symbol, and marchers also spoke out against Muslims.
Participants marched under the slogan “We Want God,” words from an old Polish religious song that US President Donald Trump quoted during a visit to Warsaw earlier this year. Speakers spoke of standing against liberals and defending Christian values.
Some 90 percent of Polish Jewry was killed during the Holocaust. Today, the community is said to number under 10,000.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon called the event “a dangerous march of extreme and racist elements.”
“We hope that Polish authorities will act against the organizers. History teaches us that expressions of racist hate must be dealt with swiftly and decisively,” he told the Associated Press in a statement.
On Sunday, Nahshon tweeted that the march disproved “anyone who thinks that hatred of Muslims protects the Jews.”
Poland’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that it strongly condemns racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic ideas, but insisted that the weekend march was largely an expression of patriotic values.
The ministry said that the rally was “a great celebration of Poles, differing in their views, but united around the common values of freedom and loyalty to an independent homeland.”
The Polish Foreign Ministry said that defining the march based on some “incidental” elements was not justified. Underlining its opposition to extremism, the ministry recalled that it had opposed a visit to Poland by Richard Spencer, the leading American white nationalist.
Spencer was originally to have attended a conference in Warsaw a day before the march, but he was taken off the schedule after the ministry said it did not want him in the country.