Anti - Polonism
As Seen From A Polish American Perspective
The terms Polonophobia, anti-Polonism, antipolonism and anti-Polish sentiment refer to a spectrum of hostile attitudes toward Polish people. These terms apply to racial prejudice against Poles and people of Polish descent, including ethnicity-based discrimination and state-sponsored mistreatment of Poles. This led to genocide during World War II, notably by the German Nazis, the Soviets and Ukrainian nationalists.
Anti-Polish sentiment often entails modern-day derogatory stereotyping.
Many of these individuals were Jewish stand-up comics who grew up with ethnic humor and made it a part of their routines. According to John Ruch, Poles seemed to get special attention from Jewish Borscht Belt comics, perhaps because of Poland’s long history of "anti-Semitism".
These jokes quickly made the rounds among the teenagers and were told in school and youth clubs. There were many a young Polish American boy or girl who would tell their parents that the wished they were born Irish or German because of the foul and demeaning nature of these jokes.
The election of a Polish pope seemed to sound the death knell of the “Polish Joke”. Here was a Pole who lived, worked and played with Polish Jews while growing up in the town of Wadowice Poland. Pope John Paul The Great was instrumental in opening a dialogue between Catholics and Jews.
From his boyhood to the throne of Peter, Karol Wojtyla demonstrated a special sensitivity to Jewish-Christian relations, a gift that soon came to be recognized by Jews worldwide. Having lived through the horrors of Nazi occupation, he made the improvement of relations with the Jews a key goal of his papacy.
Now this good will between Poles and Jews is being eroded by the anti-Polonism of certain segments of Jews in Israel.
The following are three examples. They are sowing seeds of distrust by labeling the Polish nation as anti-Semitic.
My nephew beeped me on ICQ last night. He’s in the eleventh grade at a Jerusalem high school, which means he will be going on a school trip to Poland. He wanted to hear family stories from the Holocaust and the names of relatives who had perished, which he will use in a ceremony he is supposed to lead at Auschwitz.
Much has been said and written about these trips – sharply criticized by prominent figures on the Israeli left, such as Shulamit Aloni and Tom Segev, as little more than chauvinistic indoctrination. While chatting with my nephew, images from Yoav Shamir’s documentary Defamation went through my mind. Shamir accompanied one such trip to Poland, and shows the process by which Israeli teenagers are inculcated with a deep belief in eternal Polish – and by extension, universal – anti-Semitism, with explicit ideological ramifications for the Jewish present and future. I said to my nephew: “You know, Poland is a fascinating country. It’s a shame you won’t be coming into contact with ordinary Poles, but your trip has a specific educational purpose.”
I decided to go a little further, and typed “You will be shown a superficial version of Polish history, portraying all Poles either as collaborators or ‘righteous gentiles’.” He replied: “I know, they were under occupation, but didn’t the Germans choose Poland as the location for their death camps because they knew they could count on Polish anti-Semites to collaborate and/or turn a blind eye?”
Some 25,000 Israeli high school students participate annually in school delegations to Poland, where they visit the sites of former concentration camps and Jewish ghettos. This follows several years of reports of poor student behavior, including drinking, gambling and violence.
The other examples are also from Philip Weiss a righteous Jew.
A couple of weeks back I did a post on the fact that by and large my ancestors in eastern Europe were not peasants. Here’s a historical paper that explores some of the same terrain, titled "Traditional Jewish Attitudes Toward Poles," by Mark Paul, from a Polish-American perspective. I haven’t read it yet; it is book length. But it goes into a lot of the casual smearing of Poles among Jews that I grew up with–and that MJ Rosenberg once explained to me was the backdrop to some of the anger toward Zbig Brzezinski. I see that the paper refers to jokes about Polocks told by the late Ann Landers (Eppie Lederer) and Senator Arlen Specter.
The paper was brought to my attention by my friend Mark, a Catholic with Polish ancestry.
I saw a great movie last night, the documentary Defamation, by Yoav Shamir, an Israeli filmmaker. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and it is about the consecration of anti-Semitism as the central mode of Jewish identity and the raison-d'etre of Jewish nationalism–it sustains Israel. The group of Israeli kids traveling to Majdanek carries the Israeli flag into the ruined gas chambers, and they all wear sweatshirts with the star of David and the word Israel on the back. The point of the film, stated by one of the sour concentration-camp tour-guides near the end, is that this is a miserable basis for Jewish existence, a cult of death and fear and mistrust. The Israeli kids are so indoctrinated they think that the Poles are out to kill them now, and they don't go out of their hotel room.
The film is great journalism for Shamir's tenacity at insinuating himself into the emotional life of events, and for his portraits: of Abraham Foxman, Charles Jacobs, John Mearsheimer, Uri Avnery, and Norman Finkelstein.
Philip Weiss is an investigative journalist, blogger and author of “American Taboo: A Murder in the Peace Corps”. He describes himself as an anti-Zionist.
Has the time come to stop hating Poland? That was the question asked this week on the JewishJournal.com web site. It is said that love is blind and hatred blinds us. Anyone who has open eyes cannot help but see that there is also a New Poland today.
Anti-Polonism (Polonophobia),is a greater threat to historical memory because it is pervasive, often subtle, and seldom condemned. It includes anti-Polish (antiPolish) falsifications of history, intentionally or unintentionally misleading phraseology (e. g., "Polish death camps"), and myths that have become "truths" through frequent retelling. Let's defend historical memory.
What of the memory of "the Righteous Among the Nations," Gentile (non-Jewish) rescuers who have been recognized for their "compassion, courage and morality" because they "risked their lives to save the lives of Jews." Poland ranks first among 40 nations with 5,503 men and women, almost one-third of the total, despite the fact that only in Poland were citizens (and their loved ones) immediately executed if caught trying to save Jews.
The irony of it all is that many prominent Jews and their families owe their lives to these brave but rarely acknowledged people. For example, Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith/USA, was saved by a Polish Catholic nanny who had him baptized as a Catholic and began raising him as her son in order to save him. - Edward Lucaire
Is this anti-Polonism the way to honor them?
What would Irena Sendler say if she were alive today?
This stereotype of Polonia has found a place in our media. A typical example is this picture caption that appeared in the Newark Star Ledger on March 2010.
“Old Newark enthusiast Jeff Bennett will venture into the Ironbound tomorrow for his latest tour, celebrating the famed Portuguese enclave as well as its multi-ethnic heritage- Germans, Italians and Jews are among the groups that have made this area their home since the 1800s.
The 2 pm. tour starts at the former Second Dutch Reformed Church at the intersection of Ferry and McWhorter streets. Stops include the collection of churches around Independence Park, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Michael and St. Casimir, pictured, and remnants of Newark's industrial prime, including the former Murphy Varnish Co. building.
The tour lasts 2 hours, so there s plenty of time eat lunch or dinner at one of the fabulous Portuguese restaurants on and off Ferry Street.
The cost IS $10 per person, $5 for those 10 to 18. In the event of heavy rain, check newarkhistory.com on Sunday for cancellation “
The picture shows the interior of St. Casmir’s a Polish parish in the Ironbound section of Newark.
St. Casimir Polish Roman Catholic Church was established in 1908 to serve Polish speaking people who lived in the Ironbound section of Newark. Before this time there was only one Roman Catholic Church for the Polish people living in the city of Newark. The rapid growth of the city and the large Polish immigration prompted Fr. Vitus Maśnicki, pastor of St. Stanislaus Church, Irvine Turner Blvd. (High St.), to make plans for a Polish parish in the Ironbound.
As it does today, the Ironbound had inhabitants of many ethnic groups in the 19th century, with Germans, Lithuanians, Italians, and Poles being prominent. Lithuanians built the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in 1894 and Trinity Church in 1902. St. Casimir's Church was founded under Polish auspices in 1908. As an example of the size of the German community in the Ironbound, prior to World War I, Wilson Avenue was called Hamburg Place.
Was this an error of omission or commission by Ms. Hyman?
Is Hyman showing her latent anti-Polonism? Has she been “Indoctrinated” to believe that all Poles are anti-Semites?
This is just one example. One must ask how many more are there?
How is the resurgence of anti-Polonism amongst the young Jews in Israel and the U.S. affecting their attitude toward Poles in general?
How will this bias learned at an early age be transferred in later life as they come in personal contact in the work place with Polish /Americans or Polonians from another country?
Will it influence them in their business decisions or in hiring for job positions in business, academia, the media etc.?
What is Polonia doing to counteract this trend in defamation of their people? Is the Polish American Congress aware of the examples posted by Phil Weiss on his blog?
Has the PAC contacted the Polish embassy in Washington D.C. or ADL’s Abraham Foxman to voice its concerns?
PAC’s B of D members as well as America’s Polonia should read a historical paper titled "Traditional Jewish Attitudes Toward Poles," by Mark Paul, from a Polish-American perspective.
The Jewish Holocaust was an example of man’s inhumanity to man, a very tragic event in the history of the Jewish people.
We should not loose sight of other tragedies such as the ethnic cleansing of the Armenians by the Turks, Pol Pots killing of millions of Cambodians, the starvation of millions of Ukrainian Kulaks by Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler’s planned extermination of Poles. Hitler gave explicit permission to his commanders to kill "without pity or mercy, men, women, and children of Polish descent or language
In addition to about three million Polish Jews (mostly killed in Operation Reinhard), up to 4.5 million non-Jewish Polish citizens perished during the course of the war. Over four million were ethnic Poles (the remaining 500,000 were mainly ethnic minority Ukrainians and Belarusians living in Poland). The majority of those killed by Nazi Germany were civilians (exceeding military deaths nearly 10:1).
By indoctrinating Israeli youth to fear and hate the Poles are they not forgetting what was the result of the Nazi’s hatred for the Jews? During a visit to Auschwitz in 2002 I asked the tour guide who was next on Hitler's list after he acomplished "The Final Solution" He responded..... the Poles!
So let us all watch Yoav Shamir’s
documentary film ‘Defamation’ to see
how the Israeli kids are so indoctrinated they think that the Poles
are out to kill them now, and they don't go out of their hotel room and how they are inculcated
with a deep belief in eternal Polish – and by extension, universal –
anti-Semitism, with explicit ideological ramifications for the Jewish
present and future.
Watch Shamirs's documentary and listen carefully to how the
the students are brain washed by their teachers.
Have they been told about the 6000+ Polish Righteous at Yad Vashem?
Are they aware of the examples of Poles hiding Jews from the Nazis at the risk of having them and their family members
executed by the Nazis ?
Some estimates put the number of Poles involved in rescue at up to 3 million, and credit Poles with saving up to around 450,000 Jews from certain death.
Up to 50,000 Polish gentiles were executed by the Nazis for saving Jews. Of the estimated 3 million Polish Gentiles killed in World War Two, thousands were murdered by the German Nazis only as punishment for assisting Jews.
For those of you who understand Polish the following is a presentation by Peter Jaroszynski about his views on ANTYPOLONIZM from a Polish perspective.