Voice of the Jewish News: Poland punished ‘Jewish envoy’ for stating self-evident truth
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Voice of the Jewish News: Poland punished ‘Jewish envoy’ for stating self-evident truth

Jaroslaw Marek Nowak, appointed just six months ago to improve relations with Jewish community, was sacked after telling Jewish News his country’s Holocaust law is ‘stupid’

Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland. 19th Apr, 2021. A memorial stone is covered with daffodils on April 19 2021 in Warsaw, Poland. On April 19 people commemorate the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising that took place on April 19, 1943. Today marks its 78th anniversary. Credit: Aleksander Kalka/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News
Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland. 19th Apr, 2021. A memorial stone is covered with daffodils on April 19 2021 in Warsaw, Poland. On April 19 people commemorate the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising that took place on April 19, 1943. Today marks its 78th anniversary. Credit: Aleksander Kalka/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News

Few readers of this newspaper would argue that Jaroslaw Marek Nowak, the man appointed by Poland’s government to improve its relations with world Jewry, deserved to lose his job last weekend. Of course, few of our readers are likely to be hardline Polish nationalists.

Our interview with Nowak last week – he was dismissed by the Polish foreign minister hours after it appeared online – was not the first time this publication has clashed with the populist forces that govern Poland.

It has only been a few years since we were served legal papers for using the term “Polish” in an article about the death camp at Auschwitz.

And we are not alone.

In recent years Polish historians have been ordered to apologise for their research. Countless Jewish victims of the Holocaust and their relatives have been belittled, simply for wanting the authorities to recognise the horrors inflicted upon them during the Second World War.

Regardless of what today’s populists might say, most outsiders are well aware of how much the Polish people have suffered in the 20th century. They endured both Nazi and Soviet occupation – initially as a Damocletian threat, then as a horrific reality.

Millions of those Poles were Jews who were wiped out.

Jaroslaw Marek Nowak, Poland’s envoy for the Jewish community

Before the war, Poland was home to Europe’s largest Jewish population and so it is no coincidence that more Gentile Poles than any other nationality have since been recognised as Righteous Among the Nations.

They heroically helped their Jewish compatriots evade calamity at great risk to their own lives.

It would be foolish to argue no Pole chose the alternative path by actively betraying Jews and aiding the occupiers.

Yet that is what today’s Polish populists seek to do.

Jaroslaw Marek Nowak’s crime was to call them out for it.

His dismissal leaves world Jewry with little to hope that its relations with Poland can improve.

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