I put up this blog as a record of a discussion I had in May 2016 with an American educator about the part Polish citizens played in the genocide of the Jewish people during the 1939-45 occupation of Polish territory. This discussion (if one can call it that) was prompted by a public demonstration on May 5th outside the Polish consulate in New York by staff and students of the Rambam Mesivta High School, a private Jewish High School in Lawrence, New York, USA. (Rosh HaMesivta - Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, Principal - Rabbi Yotav Eliach, Assistant Principals - Rabbi Avi Haar and Mr. Hillel Goldman). They had the misfortune that the demonstration was filmed by Nowy Dziennik (Anna Archiszewska) who also attempted to interview some of the participants.
The claims made were troubling, the rabbi stated that the Poles "let the Holocaust happen" in their occupied land, and alleged that - because they were all anti-semitic - themselves led to the killing of Jews by handing them over to the Germans, and that Poles allegedly "killed more Jews in the War than they did Germans". Furthermore he informed onlookers that the Poles refused to admit events where Jews were killed by Poles (such as Jedwabne) and alleged that the Polish government was trying to silence historian Jan Gross who was speaking of such things.
The students taking part are seen to be holding maps of post-1945 Poland and exhibited no knowledge that during the World War II Poland did not exist as a country. They ignore the fact that Nazi concentration camps were founded by Germans when Poland was under German occupation. They are also dismissive of the fact that the citizens of Poland have the world's highest count of individuals who have been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations for saving Jews from extermination during the Holocaust in World War II. In Nazi-occupied Poland the task of rescuing Jews was especially difficult and dangerous. All household members were punished by death if a Jew was found concealed in their home or on their property. It is estimated that the number of Poles who were killed by the Nazis for aiding Jews was as high as tens of thousands, only 704 of whom have been posthumously honoured with medals.
Within a few days, links to the video were being disseminated by the Polish media and attracting comment. I posted two texts on it on my blog, one was addressed to one of the participants. I also sent a message to the school, inviting them to comment on my blog. I received a reply by email from Rabbi Friedman (here) which started off by challenging me to "address the above issues in an honest manner" and making a number of statements intended to support what he'd shouted at the Consulate.
I spent two days answering carefully this letter, making sure to cite sources where the ducator could check what I was saying. I split the answer intio three chunks, one on the response to my blog-post's points, the second answering (I leave it up to the reader to judge how "honestly") the additional questions, and the third to the final comment of the US rabbi.
I really need not have made the effort, the Rabbi said he could not be bothered to read carefully what I had written and respond, he just wrote dismissively of it all.
I put it up here as one quite often hears similar poisonous remarks of Jews in America who seem to have a problem with seeing the complexities of the issues they harbour so many prejudices over. It may be helpful to somebody to see the other side.
I have rearranged the post order so they read chronologically from top down. I have also removed email addresses from the texts of letters. Unlike the declaration on my other blog, for the moment I welcome substantive comments on the matters discussed here, BUT only on the same conditions as apply to my other blogs - first please read my conditions for posting comments on my blogs.
Declaration of Interest, I am English but also a proud Polish citizen and am neither Jewish nor Anti-Jewish. I just think that establishing a truth about these complex events is more fruitful than spreading pseudo-history based on superficial thinking.
NOTE: The first dozen or so posts on this blog [that is, those containing the original discussion about what the Rabbi said in New York] are forward-dated two years to remain on the top of the blog, later material will be found below them.