Polish Jewish leaders, ruling party chief at odds over what they talked about in meeting


(JTA) — Leaders of Polish Jewry said they flagged what they termed rising intolerance in their country at a meeting with a ruling party politician, but the party chief denied the subject was broached.

Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich and Leslaw Piszewski, the president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, met Friday with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a founder of the Law and Justice party, to discuss various topics, including the “issue of growing intolerance towards various minorities, including the Jews,” Schudrich told JTA on Monday.

But in an interview with the PAP news agency, Kaczynski denied the issue ever came up.

“We talked about the safety of Jewish communities and objects, but there was absolutely no mention of any growing climate of intolerance in Poland,” he was quoted as saying.

Kaczynski added that the two communal leaders said Poland was safer for Jews than many other countries in Europe with large Muslim populations.

The meeting followed nationalist marches in Warsaw and Wroclav on Nov. 11 in which some marchers carried banners against Muslims and chanted slogans against Jews. However, Schudrich said, it had been scheduled before the march took place.

Asked what he told Kaczynski about the march, Schudrich said, “I spoke to him about it in my way, which is to say the Jewish community valued the principled stance that some Polish leading politicians took in rejecting the expressions of racism on display.”

President Andrzej Duda last week wrote on Twitter: “In our country there is no place or consent for xenophobia, radical nationalism, anti-Semitism.”

A meeting that Kaczynski had in August with other leaders of the fractious Jewish community in Poland sparked an internal dispute. Schudrich and Piszewski were among the Polish Jews who accused the communal leaders in the meeting of falsely claiming to represent a broad constituency without properly addressing communal concerns over the alleged growth of xenophobia in Poland.


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