PRAGUE (JTA) — A Polish member of the European Parliament has published a booklet suggesting that Jews are unethical, are obsessed with separateness and are a “tragic community” because they don’t accept Jesus as the messiah. The extreme right-wing parliamentarian Maciej Giertych, an influential member of the nationalistic, Catholic-based League of Polish Families, released “Civilization at War in Europe” on Feb. 14 at the European Parliament headquarters in Strasbourg. Giertych’s son, Roman, Poland’s education minister and deputy prime minister, now heads the league, which has been battling the stain of anti-Semitism for years.The 32-page booklet by the elder Giertych aims to prove that European culture, education and morality should be the province of only one civilization. Poland and other parts of Europe are depicted as having a Catholic core which cannot coexist with what he depicts as the Jews’ Torah-based civilization. After reading the booklet on Giertych’s Web site, www.giertych.pl, the executive director of the European Jewish Congress said his organization will investigate the legality of the publication.”It is quite amazing that a member of the European Parliament referred to racial theories of the pre-World War II era reflecting empty prejudices and the ugliest anti-Semitic cliches,” Serge Cwajgenbaum said. He also called upon the younger Giertych to renounce his father’s work.Maciej Giertych, a professor of biology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, writes of Jews, “It is a civilization of programmed separateness, of programmed differentiation from the surrounding communities…By their own will, they prefer to live a separate life, in apartheid from the surrounding communities. They form their own communes (kahals), they govern themselves by their own rule and they take care to maintain also a spatial separateness. They form the ghettos themselves, as districts in which they live together, comparable to the Chinatowns in the USA.”The elder Giertych told JTA that the booklet represents not his thoughts but the philosophy of Polish historian and philosopher Feliks Koneczny, a 1930s-era philosopher who some accused of anti-Semitism.”I am promoting the teachings. They are very good ideas, and they should be followed,” Giertych said. “I subscribe to his methods.”Asked if Koneczny’s views weren’t discriminatory and outdated, Giertych said that even though they were written before the State of Israel’s birth, they address an issue that hasn’t changed for centuries and that pertains to various civilizations “like the Chinese and many others, not just the Jews.”Rafal Pankowski of Never Again, a Polish anti-racism organization, noted that Giertych for decades has championed the philosophy of Koneczny, who suggested that Jews and Catholics could not live in the same country because Jews were lawless and immoral. Pankowski said Giertych was only repeating what was a core philosophy of the League of Polish Families, a junior partner in the Polish government’s fragile three-party coalition.”This book is consistent with his previous writings, as disappointing as that may be,” said Pankowski, who noted that the father-and-son team was under fire for recently denying the existence of evolution. The League of Polish Families is a post-1989 revival of Endejca, the early-20th century party that used violence in an attempt to reduce the Jewish presence at universities. Some of the league’s admirers have a neo-Nazi past.One of the 1930s stereotypes revived by Giertych, who also was inspired by Endejca leader Roman Dmowski, is that of Jews as greedy conspirators.”They settle among other civilizations, preferably among the rich,” the book says of Jews, paraphrasing Koneczny. “They tend to migrate from poorer to richer lands. They do so always as a group, immediately forming their own separate community.” Another section addresses the age-old stereotype that Jews use the Torah, Talmud and other commentaries hypocritically to produce ethical rules of convenience, allowing for “a constant casuistry, multiplying exceptions to immutable rules.”Giertych warns of the influence of this philosophy on Latin civilizations, meaning Christian Europe. But he denies suggesting that Europe’s values are Christian values.”I am saying that we in Europe make our laws according to ethics, not the Torah,” Giertych said.Asked how he thought Israelis made their laws, he responded, “the Torah.”Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, said that rather than finding anything directly anti-Semitic in Giertych’s book, instead it was full of “dangerous thoughts that could elicit anti-Semitism.” He added dryly, “there is no mention of making matzahs out of Christian blood,” a reference to medieval blood libels against Jews. Giertych’s book was issued only a month after the formation of a new far-right European Parliament grouping that includes members from parties with a history of anti-Semitism in France, Austria, Romania and Bulgaria. None of those parties, however, has members sitting in a country’s governing coalition. “It is not acceptable for such views to be expressed by a member of the European Parliament,” Pankowski said. “The sadder thing is that such people have a role in running” Poland.
Dinah Spritzer is JTA's correspondent in Prague. She has been covering the former Eastern European bloc since 1990 and currently serves as the news editor of The Prague Post. The former Europe editor for Travel Weekly, she also contributes to several other publications, including The Independent on Sunday, Conde Nast Traveler and several guidebooks on the Czech Republic.