New Polish envoy for Jewish relations could be in post ‘within days’

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New Polish envoy for Jewish relations could be in post ‘within days’

A replacement for Jaroslaw Marek Nowak, sacked after a Jewish News interview last week, could be announced soon, local Jewish leaders have suggested

Michael Daventry is Jewish News’s foreign and broadcast editor

Jaroslaw Marek Nowak. credit: Twitter/@AJC_CE
Jaroslaw Marek Nowak was fired after a Jewish News interview last week (Photo: Twitter/@AJC_CE)

Poland could appoint a new envoy soon to improve its relations with Jewish communities after last week’s dismissal of Jaroslaw Marek Nowak over remarks he made to Jewish News.

American Jewish Committee director Sebastian Rejak, who leads the organisation’s Central Europe operations and is based in Warsaw, said he understood a replacement could be announced within days.

He made the prediction in the latest episode of the Jewish News Podcast, which examined the fallout from Nowak’s departure.

“I hope — I think it’s more than just a hope — to my knowledge the position will be kept and we should learn in the coming days who the successor will be,” Rejak said.

Nowak was fired last week after criticising the Polish government’s positions on issues frequently raised by Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants, including the restitution of property that was confiscated from them.

He had made the remarks in a wide-ranging interview with Jewish News.

The dismissal was met with dismay by campaigners around the world who believed his appointment was a sign that Polish attitudes were shifting.

Poland remains the only European country without a comprehensive law on Holocaust restitution or compensation.

The crossbench peer Baroness Deech, who also appeared on the podcast, indicated she was not optimistic about Nowak’s possible replacement.

Asked on if she would meet any new envoy, she said: “Well of course I would, but it depends who it is. It might be someone who is vetted as being timid and not going against the Polish government.”

Deech whose ancestors had property seized in Poland, has long campaigned to improve Poland’s relations with world Jewry.

“All in all, Poland is in big trouble at the moment with the European Union, with its crackdown on judicial independence, on freedom of the press, on women’s rights, and not a happy place to be at the moment,” she said.

“And having a fearless [envoy] in that position would have been a little candle of light in the darkness.”

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Jewish News that it did not comment on human resources matters.

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