Polish Jewish leader protests handling of anti-Semitism cases

WARSAW (JTA) — The president of Poland’s Jewish community is protesting two recent decisions by Polish prosecutors not to pursue investigations of anti-Semitic incidents.

In April, a prosecutor in Bialystok declined to launch an investigation of anti-Semitic graffiti because, he said, the swastika is considered a symbol of good luck in Asia and therefore is not unambiguously fascist.

More recently, prosecutors in Kielce dropped an investigation into anti-Semitic slurs against a local businessman who was called a “Jewish scoundrel” online. Prosecutors decided that the term was used in a sarcastic and satirical manner.

In both cases, Polish authorities overturned the initial decisions and investigations of the incidents are proceeding.

Piotr Kadlcik, the president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, said the prosecutors’ reactions to the incidents were worrisome.

“On behalf of the Polish Jewish community, I am deeply concerned about the recent decisions of the prosecutors of Bialystok and Kielce on anti-Semitic hate speech and fascist symbols,” Kadlcik said. “These decisions are part of sad and disturbing cancellations, failures or refusals to initiate proceedings connected to racist or anti-Jewish offenses.”

Kadlcik also drew attention to the recent defacement of a monument in Jedwabne, the site of a 1941 pogrom in which several hundred Jews were killed, and the Jewish cemetery in Wysokie Mazowieckie. Both investigations failed to result in arrests.

“I object to sending a signal by the prosecutors with permission to offend and threaten with the symbolism of extermination a particular people and community,” Kadlcik said.

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