Sunday, 12 June 2016

Friedman's Press Release

Here is the press release announcing the organization of the School's protest in New York. Poland is compared to North Korea:
PRESS RELEASE: Rally on Holocaust Memorial Day, Thursday, May 5th @ 1:00PM
Rally Against Polish Government to Protest Attempt to Deny Polish
War Crimes During the Holocaust
Approximately 200 students including children and grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors will be holding a rally on Holocaust Remembrance Day to protest attempts by the Polish government to rewrite history and deny the significant role that Polish citizens had in perpetrating the Holocaust.
Dr. Jan Tomasz Gross, a world-renowned historian and former professor of history at Princeton University, authored an earth shattering book, Neighbors, where he highlights the significant contribution of ordinary Polish citizens to the destruction of European Jewry. He writes in graphic detail how, in the Polish town of Jedwabne, Polish peasants, rounded up their neighbors, 1300 Jewish residents, and forced them into a wooden barn, locked the door and set the barn ablaze. This heartless and brutal crime was one of the first documented historical accounts of Polish anti-Semitism in World War II. Dr. Gross’ book was a National Book Award Finalist.
The Polish government has long maintained that this event was an isolated incident.
Recently, Dr. Gross mentioned in a recent interview that in his opinion, “Poles killed more Jews than Germans.” Responding to this statement, the Polish government reacted in an uproar. Charges were filed against Dr. Gross for “insulting the state” and a movement to strip him of his “Order of Merit Award” has been advanced. He also has been threatened with prison time for these “crimes.” The investigation is currently ongoing.
According to rally organizer, Rabbi Zev Friedman, “I’ve heard many survivors speak of the glee that their Polish neighbors had when Jews were being mercilessly persecuted. It was reported that eyewitnesses in the Warsaw ghetto saw Poles watching approvingly or even helping out, acting as spotters as German soldiers shot Jews. Today’s rally calls on the Polish government not just to drop charges and exonerate Dr. Gross but to admit their history and take full responsibility for what its citizens did to their own neighbors during the Holocaust. The attempts of the government of Poland, which holds itself out to be a democracy, to stifle the free speech and historical documentation of an internationally acclaimed professor of history, smacks of charges one would expect to hear emanating from North Korea and other totalitarian regimes.”
Place: Polish Consulate to the United Nations: 233 Madison Ave, New York, NY, 10017
Time: Thursday, May 5, at 1:00pm
Contact: Rabbi Zev Friedman, Dean of Rambam Mesivta High School [...]
Poland has the right to have a say in the writing of the history of Poland, surely. The history of the Second World War is self-evidently not just the history of the Jews which is what the Ranting Rabbi wanted to make it here.

Which Poles were IN the Warsaw Ghetto when it was being cleared? There was a wall around it to keep the Jews in and the Poles out. References please Rabbi. If there were Poles collaborating with Nazi occupiers, would it be an exception among the occupied countries of Europe? There were no collaborators in France, Denmark, the Channel Islands? Yes there were, of course, wherever somebody sees social advantage in changing sides, there will be those who do. In France the repression of the Jews under German occupation also involved French citizens, whether "gleeful" or not we cannot say. I assume that on Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017, the ranting Rabbi will take his pliable tagalong students to the French Embassy.

We are told the kids that will be involved are "children and grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors". He does not say if they are the descendants of Polish, French or Hungarian Jews, but there were survivors from Poland too. The number of surviving Jews who have memories of Poland is a witness to the size of the Jewish community concentrated in precisely that country - which may be seen as testimony to many decades and centuries of relatively peaceful co-existence. Rabbi Friedman goes beyond all ethical bounds as an educator, expounding in his teaching his vision of hatred in opposition to a more balanced approach.

No "charges" have been pressed against Jan Gross, so there is nothing to "drop". His historical conclusions continue to be a matter of discussion of both scholars and society in Poland and beyond, but Rabbi Friedman wishes himself to shout down views which differ from his own and the Jewish community he aims to represent. It is not clear how the "Polish government" is |stifling" either the free speech of a writer working in the USA, still less how they are "stifling" his |"historical documentation". Any historical documents concerning the Holocaust which Jan Gross may have in his private possession need to be deposited in public archives where they can be used by other scholars too.

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