Most Poles support punishing anti-Semitism


ROME, July 31 (JTA) — Three-fourths of Polish citizens support punishment for anti-Semitic activities, according to a recent poll.

The poll results were reported in the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza on July 23.

Thirty-four percent of respondents said people who wrote anti-Semitic graffiti should be punished by law, and 53 percent said they should be publicly denounced but not suffer legal consequences. Six percent said writing anti-Semitic graffiti should not result in any sanctions.

Similarly, 26 percent of respondents supported legal measure against Holocaust deniers, 54 percent said they should be denounced without legal sanctions and 9 percent said there should be no sanctions.

For people who distribute anti-Semitic publications, 23 percent supported legal punishment, 52 percent supported denouncement and 16 percent said there should be no sanctions.

Stanislaw Krajewski, a leader of the Warsaw Jewish community and Warsaw consultant for the American Jewish Committee, said the responses are “relatively optimistic,” indicating that more than three-fourths of Poles disapprove of anti-Semitic expression. Younger respondents, he said, were more likely to disapprove of anti-Semitic behavior.

The survey also showed that 52 percent of non-Jewish Poles agree that “Jews are our elder brethren in faith”; one-fourth disagreed with this statement.

Four years ago a similar survey showed that 40 percent agreed and 39 percent disagreed.

“The positive change is clear and rightly attributed to the recent activities of Pope John Paul II,” Krajewski said.

The pope apologized for Catholic anti-Semitism before he visited Israel in March.

Krajewski noted, however, that several marginal candidates in Poland’s current presidential campaign were using “the Jewish threat” as an element or even as the pillar of their campaign.

“Clearly, the majority will not support them, but they will find supporters,” he said.

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