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The Tolerance Must Be Mutual - from a Polish Righteous Gentile
Jewlicious ^ | 6-10-7

Posted on 06/10/2007 5:33:44 PM PDT by SJackson

The Tolerance Must Be Mutual - from a Polish Righteous Gentile

June 10th, 2007 by themiddle

A plea from a Righteous Gentile who is also a prominent Pole and Auschwitz survivor for greater tolerance from Jews towards the Polish people. I am reprinting it in full because I think he’s talking to all of us and Ha’aretz changes its URLs often so that links can’t be followed after a time.

The tolerance must be mutual

By Wladyslaw Bartoszewski

I am a Polish Catholic from Warsaw, now visiting Israel for the 15th time. I belong to an older generation of Poles, but have continued to write, engage in historical research, and take an active part in public and political life. In Israel, this generation includes personalities like Prof. Israel Gutman, of Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem, and Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres, highly respected in Poland since winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

My life experiences, along with the fact that I was named a Righteous Gentile 40 years ago, and have been an honorary citizen of the State of Israel for the last 16 years, gives me the right, perhaps even the duty, to express my thoughts on an issue that has great importance for future ties between Poland and Israel, and between Poles and Israelis.

The relationship is good - even very good. Poland and Israel are probably on better terms today than when Israel was established, and Poland certainly has closer ties with Israel than it does with many other countries. I think Israelis have reason to be pleased with Poland?s performance as an ally, in both the United Nations and the European Union. But what concerns me at the moment is not politics, but human relationships. It seems to me that we are facing a new wave of global intolerance and anti-Semitic belligerence masquerading as anti-Zionism. Declarations, veiled hints and outright invective against Israel, essentially anti-Semitic in nature, are becoming increasingly commonplace in Europe, even in countries that pride themselves on being stable democracies.

Poland is one of the countries still trying to lift themselves out of the deep rut created by years of dictatorships, from Stalin to Hitler, followed by years of repressive policies and trampling of citizen’s rights. In March 1968, organized harassment of the Jewish community, for example, set off a large wave of emigration that left very few Jews in Poland.

For years, many Poles, myself included, have been trying to build bridges between people with different outlooks. I do not categorize human beings according to their faith in God, or lack of it. I do not categorize them by where their fathers or grandfathers came from, or by the language they speak. I use another set of criteria: honesty and trustworthiness. I simply ask myself whether I would leave the keys to my apartment with this person, or give this person my credit card. These are the only criteria that guide me in my life.

At the same time, I do not deny that I have preferences. The citizens of the State of Israel, for example, are closer to my heart than the citizens of, say, South Africa or Portugal. I have respect for these countries, but there is no emotional component in my attitude toward them. Like many Poles, I have a special affection for Israel. An increasing number of young people in Poland are starting to take an interest in Israel, despite the geographical distance between our lands.

Trust and friendship are essential for a better future. But trust and friendship (in that order - trust comes first, and later, perhaps, friendship) can only be built on the basis of tolerance for our sensitivities and our mistakes. The only form of tolerance that is unacceptable is tolerance for hatred and criminal behavior. Hatred feeds the stereotypes that have perpetuated discrimination against the weak in Europe for generations. Often, the weak were Diaspora Jews. Thus one would expect that people whose families came from the Diaspora would be hypersensitive toward stereotyping. The response to one negative stereotype will always be another negative stereotype.

In slightly under 60 years, Israeli society has painstakingly built an impressive country. We stand in awe of your accomplishments, and this is the spirit in which we educate our young people. By the same token, we would like to see your country free of rhetoric that is insulting to the Polish people, and certainly any slurs disseminated on an organized basis.

I am not targeting anyone individually. What I am talking about is a general grudge against the Polish people. Any Jew who has suffered at the hands of the Poles has the right to speak out, and the same is true for any Pole who feels hurt by the Jews. But it is better that we stop and think: What purpose does this serve? Is it not preferable to dwell on the good memories? That is my opinion, as a human being and one of the founders of Zegota, the Council for Aid to Jews, in occupied Poland in 1942.

On a final note, I would like to bring a very personal example. I am one of those Poles who was persecuted both by Stalin and by Hitler. I spent seven months in Auschwitz and six and a half months in communist jails, although I had committed no crime. Many Israelis, especially those whose families came from Europe, know what I am talking about, so that lengthy explanations are unnecessary. But it is worth pointing out that my persecutors were Polish Christians and the lawyer who defended me was a Jew.

So in my case, the stereotypes were reversed. I make a point of telling that to people who claim that the Jews of Poland felt differently about the Stalinist dictatorship than the non-Jews. We must not forget that the Jews were also victims of communist terror and forced to flee. Not only that, but one of Israel?s prime ministers, Menachem Begin, sat in Stalin?s gulags. A marble plaque inscribed in Polish, Hebrew and English hangs at the University of Warsaw, Begin’s alma mater, commemorating his life and work, and his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize. I was the one who unveiled this plaque, together with Shevah Weiss, then Israeli ambassador to Poland.

Prof. Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a former Polish foreign minister, is chairman of the Council for the Preservation of Memory and Sites of Martyrdom, and of the International Auschwitz Council.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: poland

1 posted on 06/10/2007 5:33:47 PM PDT by SJackson
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; Lent; GregB; ..
If you'd like to be on this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.

High Volume. Articles on Israel can also be found by clicking on the Topic or Keyword Israel. or WOT [War on Terror]


2 posted on 06/10/2007 5:34:52 PM PDT by SJackson (isolationism never was, never will be acceptable response to[expansionist] tyrannical governments)
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To: SJackson

This morning’s sermon at church centered on the falsity of the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign both for the inmates at Auschwitz and in our spiritual lives. It hit a particularly deep cord with me because when I was a foreign exchange student in Poland, one of the places I visited was the Auschwitz camp where I walked under that very gate, saw the piles and piles of personal belongings that were taken from the inmates. There were heaps of shoes, of wire glasses rims, suitcases, pots and pans, etc in some of the preserved barracks. Also took a walk through the gas chamber/”shower” and the crematorium on the other side of the chamber’s wall.

It is good to see that Poland and Israel are growing closer. When I was there 10 years ago, there were many people (including some of my high school friends) who had a very strong hatred of the Jews. When I asked why that was, they couldn’t offer an answer. Both peoples suffered horrendously under the twin evils of National Socialism and Communism. Perhaps they will be working together in the future to build a better world for us all.

3 posted on 06/10/2007 5:51:49 PM PDT by stefanbatory
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To: lizol


4 posted on 06/10/2007 5:58:44 PM PDT by dfwgator (The University of Florida - Still Championship U)
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To: stefanbatory
Perhaps they will be working together in the future to build a better world for us all.

Hope you're right.

5 posted on 06/10/2007 6:13:16 PM PDT by SJackson (isolationism never was, never will be acceptable response to[expansionist] tyrannical governments)
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To: SJackson

I think the time will come once again where Jewish life can once again flourish in Poland, as opposed to the rest of Europe.

The main reason, almost no Muslims in Poland.

6 posted on 06/10/2007 6:14:42 PM PDT by dfwgator (The University of Florida - Still Championship U)
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To: 1st-P-In-The-Pod; 2ndDivisionVet; A_Conservative_in_Cambridge; af_vet_rr; agrace; albyjimc2; ...
What is particularly disgusting is that gays claim "special victimhood" as suffering from nazi persecution, even though far more Polish Catholics than gays were persecuted, and there were far more gays than Polish Catholics in the nazi elite. In fact there were no Polish Catholics in the nazi elite, Poles were "untermensch."

FReepMail to be added or removed from this pro-Israel/Judaic/Russian Jewry ping list.

Warning! This is a high-volume ping list.

7 posted on 06/10/2007 6:19:27 PM PDT by Alouette (Vicious Babushka)
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To: Alouette

Hitler had targeted the Polish race to be eliminated by 1975.

8 posted on 06/10/2007 6:21:23 PM PDT by dfwgator (The University of Florida - Still Championship U)
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To: Alouette

It gets worse. See Bring your own barf bag.

9 posted on 06/10/2007 8:14:33 PM PDT by Slings and Arrows ("My wife's credit cards were stolen. I didn't report the theft. Whoever had them was spending less.")
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To: SJackson; rmlew; Clemenza; Yehuda


10 posted on 06/10/2007 8:35:21 PM PDT by Cacique (quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat ( Islamia Delenda Est ))
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To: SJackson

He is a very wise man..

11 posted on 06/10/2007 11:21:06 PM PDT by sheik yerbouty ( Make America and the world a jihad free zone!)
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To: Cacique

Poland’s time is now. The abused wife of Europe is about to stand up for herself.

Let Poland join NAFTA. The EU isn’t going to do them any favors.

12 posted on 06/10/2007 11:24:56 PM PDT by IslandJeff ("I used to care, but things have changed" - Robert Zimmerman)
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