Sunday, 14 May 2028

4) Rabbi Friedman's Reply

[published with the sender's permission]

From: Rabbi Zev Friedman  
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 8:54 PM
To: Paul Barford
Cc: Rabbi Yotav Eliach
Subject: Re: Jan Gross, "the Poles" and Xenophobic attacks by Rambam Mesivta students

Dear Mr. Barford,

First let me compliment you on your civil email.
I say this because the overwhelming number  of emails I've received (90% or more), either began with F.... Jew or some form of Holocaust denial.
Some even went so far as to suggest that Hitler was Jewish and was paid by the Jews to start WWII.
One certainly would get the impression based upon these emails that anti-Semitism is alive and well in Poland today!!

I will answer some of the points you raise below but first let me ask you the following:
1. Did Polish citizens kill Jews during World War II?
2. How would you explain the various anti-Semitic laws that existed in Poland before World War II- see link below:
3. Didn't Polish citizens (police) kill Jews in Kielce AFTER  WWII?
4. We have two first-hand accounts from families of our student population whose grandparents were murdered by Polish citizens when they returned to their villages after surviving concentration camps.
5 Many Holocaust survivors who were born in Poland speak about the anti-Semitism and hatred they experienced from Ukrainians, Latvians, Lithuanians... And their Polish neighbors.
6. A recent survey of Polish attitudes towards anti-Semitism revealed that over 60% of the Polish population believes that the Jews are involved in a conspiracy to control
media and finance. Over 20% still think that Jews drink Christian blood....
I trust that you will address the above issues in an honest manner.

I will respond to some of your comments.
1. One of the themes of the rally was the heroism of those Polish individuals who sacrificed their lives to save Jewish people. In most of those cases they have been honored in Israel for their heroism. Our community and school, in fact, found out about one of these cases and paid to fly the family to New York to reunite them with the Jewish people that they saved. They truly were a light in a very dark era.
2. The focus of the rally was to highlight the fact that Polish citizens did in fact kill Jews join World War II - and that we feel it is wrong for the government to accuse Dr. Jan Gross of "insulting the state" for bringing these truths to light.
3. Even if Dr. Gross is mistaken in his numbers: let's say Poles killed 200,000 Germans and 199,999 Jews, the point and question for you to answer is: why were Polish citizens killing other Polish citizens (who were Jewish) when they should have focused their efforts exclusively on killing the common enemy?
4. You and many others have pointed to the fact that some of the boys interviewed did not "know their history" and let's even assume that you're right and those boys asked were totally ignorant: I'd like to point out that in the same way you and many others say that we cannot generalize and accuse Poland of anti-Semitism because of the actions of the few. Isn't it strange that you seek to do the same thing by claiming, "the school is ignorant" because some kids did not answer accurately??
5. The student that said the war began in 1941 was coming at it from an American perspective: for Americans the war began after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Did the student know that the war actually began on September 1, 1939?? I think so. Did the student know that it took Germany less time to conquer all of Poland than it took to vanquish the Warsaw ghetto???

Very truly yours,
Rabbi Friedman

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