(JTA) – Several Polish rabbis and Jewish lay leaders criticized Krakow’s new chief rabbi for saying all non-Jews do not like Jews — a statement he was recorded making in an interview and then denied uttering.
On Friday, six rabbis who belong to the Association of Rabbis in Poland said in a statement that they “firmly oppose” remarks made by Rabbi Eliezer Gurary in an interview published June 9 on the Hebrew and English editions of inn.co.il, the news website of Israel’s Arutz Sheva Internet radio station.
In another statement published Friday, five Polish Jewish lay leaders wrote they were “disturbed and deeply concerned” by Gurary’s statement, which they said “essentially painted all non-Jews as anti-Semites.”
In the published interview, which was conducted in Hebrew, Gurary was quoted as saying, “Let’s state it very clearly: Those who are not a Jew do not like Jews. Everyone understands and knows it.”
An alternative translation substitutes “like” for “love.”
In their statement, the association’s rabbis wrote, “We are hoping that Rabbi Gurary will withdraw his harmful declaration.” They added that “the generalization that Gurary made is simply not true.” In Poland, they wrote, “we are fighting prejudice and we are working on good relations with our countrymen regardless of their religion or ethnicity.”
Contacted by JTA, Gurary, a Chabad rabbi who has been living in Krakow for eight years, denied making the statement during his interview with journalist Nissan Tzur. He said the statement was a misquote and accused critics of targeting him personally in “a vicious and lowly blood libel.”
But in the recording of the interview, which JTA obtained, Gurary is heard making the generalization and adding, “This shouldn’t come as news; anyone who lives out [of Israel] can tell you the history of non-Jews’ attitude. Of course, there are places where this is more felt, and there are places where this is less felt. In some places, sympathy to Jews is more felt. In others, hatred to Jews is more felt.”