WARSAW (Apr. 17)
A delegation of rabbinical and lay leaders of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) had a “friendly and satisfying” one hour meeting last Friday with Joseph Cardinal Glemp, Primate of Poland.
“It was a meeting of brothers,” said Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of UAHC and leader of the delegation. “We discussed both domestic and international issues of mutual concern, including the nuclear arms race.” The Reform movement has been in the forefront of efforts in the United States to stem the proliferation of nuclear armaments.
The UAHC leaders are in Poland to participate in ceremonies this week marking the 40th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Members of the delegation who met with Cardinal Glemp included Donald Day of Buffalo, chairman of the UAHC’s Board of Trustees; and Rabbi Philip Hiat, director of the Reform movement’s Polish-Judaic project, a unique cultural exchange program between UAHC and various church and educational institutions in Poland.
CONTROVERSY CONTINUES UNABATED
Meanwhile, the controversy among Jewish organizations over participating in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising ceremonies continued unabated. The American Jewish Committee announced that it had cancelled plans to participate in the ceremonies. The Committee had planned to be represented by Nives Fox, director of its European office, whose headquarters are in Paris.
Maynard Wishner, AJCommittee president, who announced the cancellation, explained that the original decision to participate “was a difficult one, but we felt that the memory of the victims and the sanctity of the Warsaw Ghetto site outweighed our problems with the auspices under which the event is to be held.
“However, we have learned that the Polish government has chosen to politicize the event as manifested in a spate of vitriolic anti-Israel editorials, the presence in positions of prominence of people associated with the anti-Semitic campaign during the time of the Gomulka regime, and especially the recent news that a representative of the PLO will be present to lay a wreath at the memorial to the martyred victims.
“Given this flagrant insult to the dead as well as to the living, we have recalled our representative and cancelled all plans to participate.”
In Israel, Education Minister Zevulun Hammer today ordered the Israeli delegation in Poland to return home if Polish authorities allowed the PLO to lay a wreath at the Warsaw Ghetto monument. He said the government of Poland had misled Jewish delegations by inviting them and then permitting the PLO to participate in the ceremonies.
Schindler said last week, before leaving for Warsaw, that he had received assurances that there was no truth to the news that a PLO representative would be allowed to officially participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Warsaw Ghetto monument.
At the same time, Gen. Mieczyslaw Moczar who led an anti-Semitic purge of the Communist Party during the Gomulka regime in 1968, was eased out of his post as head of the Polish veterans organization where he would have played a major role in the ceremonies. Some 9,000 people lost their jobs in the 1968 purge after being accused of having Jewish origins and the majority of the some 30,000 Jews still in Poland were forced to flee.
EDELMAN UNDER POLICE SURVEILLANCE
Meanwhile, Dr. Marek Edelman, a commander of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, has been placed under police surveillance and ordered not to leave his home city of Lodz. The 62-year-old cardiologist had issued a statement in an underground Solidarity union newspaper saying that he would not participate in the committee organizing the ceremonies and called for a boycott of the event. He had written that observance “of our anniversary here, where social life in its entirety is overshadowed by degradation and oppression” is “a betrayal of our struggle …. It is an act of cynicism and contempt.”
Today police dispersed some 1,000 people attending an unofficial ceremony organized by Solidarity supporters to honor heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Janusz Onyszkiewicz, a former Solidarity spokesman, told the crowd, before he was led away by plainclothes police, that he believed the Ghetto fighters shared the same ideals as Solidarity. “If the heroes of the Ghetto were alive today we deeply believe they would join us in our struggle for freedom, truth and human dignity. May they rest in peace,” he said.