Burned effigy of haredi Jew was supposed to represent George Soros, Polish defendant testifies


WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – The defendant on trial in Poland for burning an effigy of a haredi Orthodox Jew said it was supposed to represent Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

Piotr Ryba testified Monday in a Wroclaw municipal court about the effigy burned in the central market of the city in November 2015 at the end of a demonstration against taking in Muslim refugees.

Ryba is accused of “public incitement to hatred on the grounds of religion and nationality to an unspecified group of Jews by burning an effigy.”

Soros, an Israeli-American Jewish billionaire, is not an Orthodox Jew.

“The effigy was prepared by the National Radical Camp,” Ryba told the court, according to reports. “It was to be an effigy of George Soros. I have not seen him. I did not know how Soros looks. I feel manipulated by the whole situation. I was, and I am, a patriot.”

The trial has been ongoing for several weeks.

Aleksander Gleichgewicht, chairman of the Jewish community in Wroclaw, was at the protest as a counterdemonstrator and also testified Monday, the last day of witness testimony. He said he was shocked to discover that the effigy was a stereotypical image of a Hasidic Jew with a black hat, beard, side curls and black clothing, just as Jews were portrayed in Nazi Germany propaganda in the 1930s.

He recalled the situation in Nazi Germany.

“First they burned buildings and effigies, then living people,” Gleichgewicht said.

The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 21, when a verdict is expected to be delivered.

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