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Outrage over Cardinal’s Speech is Mounting Among Jews in U.S.

August 30, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jewish outrage continued to mount Tuesday over anti-Semitic remarks by Polish Cardinal Jozef Glemp concerning Jewish protests against the convent on the grounds of the former Auschwitz death camp.

Glemp charged, among other things, that Jews control the international news media and are using it to vilify Poland.

He accused Jewish protestors of attacking the convent and said demands that it be removed from the Auschwitz grounds undermine Polish sovereignty.

Some Jews called for a halt to U.S. economic aid to Poland. Others spoke of curtailing Jewish travel to that country. And one of the protesters accused Glemp of incitement to a pogrom.

The World Jewish Congress has urged Polish government leaders to personally dissociate themselves from Glemp’s polemic.

Kalman Sultanik, vice chairman of the WJC, met in Washington Tuesday with the Polish deputy ambassador, Ryzard Krystosic, who promised to convey the message immediately to President Wojciech Jaruzelski and newly installed Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki.

Sultanik pointed out that Mazowiecki was present when Glemp delivered the offending sermon during a religious ceremony in Polish city of Czestochowa on Aug. 26.

In Los Angeles, meanwhile, the Simon Wiesenthal Center stated that since the Polish government has ultimate authority over Auschwitz, it must see to it that the Catholic Church honors the agreement it signed more than two years ago to relocate the convent.

It is asking its 370,000 members and others to sign a petition to that effect which will be presented to President Jaruzelski.

It also said it was considering advising Jews not to travel to Poland.


Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Wiesenthal Center, denounced Glemp’s remarks as “insulting and unworthy of a man of the cloth.”

He took particular exception to Glemp’s assertion that Jews have no special claim on Auschwitz, because most of them died at the Birkenau camp, while “mostly Poles and other peoples perished” at Auschwitz, a mile or so away.

“This is nothing less than an attempt to de-Judaize the Holocaust,” Hier declared.

In Oakland, Calif., Michael Lerner, editor of the progressive journal Tikkun, called on President Bush and Congress Tuesday to withhold American economic and political support from Poland and other Eastern Bloc countries, until they deal more effectively with their indigenous anti-Semitism.

“The rush to legitimize alternatives to communist totalitarianism in Eastern Europe” has “allowed the United States to overlook a festering problem of anti-Semitism that has never been adequately dealt with in Eastern Europe,” Lerner stated in telegrams to Bush, Secretary of State James Baker and a dozen leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives.

In New York, Glenn Richter, one of seven Americans who demonstrated at Auschwitz on July 14, was furious over Glemp’s assertion that the demonstrators had “launched an attack” on the convent and only by chance did the nuns inside escape death.

The seven protesters were in fact set upon and beaten by Polish workers.

Richter, a member of the Coalition of Concern and the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry, said, “To deny that our action, witnessed by a dozen reputable foreign journalists and hundreds of Polish citizens, was anything but peaceful in intent is incomprehensible.”

Richter added, “Cardinal Glemp is preaching anti-Semitism when he should be preaching against hate and for Jewish-Christian dialogue. His remarks can lay the ground for a pogrom.”

In Brussels, meanwhile, “dismay and indignation” over Glemp’s remarks were expressed in a statement issued by the Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organizations.

(JTA correspondent Yossi Lempkowicz in Brussels contributed to this report.)

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