Ruderman Foundation pulls video criticizing Poland’s Holocaust law


(JTA) – The Ruderman Family Foundation, an American Jewish philanthropic organization, has removed a video from YouTube that criticizes Poland’s new law on rhetoric about the Holocaust.

The video posted Wednesday morning was part of a campaign urging the United States to suspend its ties with Poland over the law that criminalizes blaming the Polish nation or state for Nazi crimes.

The video shows men, women and children saying “Polish Holocaust,” which is supposed to be in defiance of the law passed by Poland earlier this month. In one scene a man is seen standing in a bar holding a beverage while saying “I wonder if they have been in Polish prison.” A mother sitting on a sofa with two children is filmed saying “I’ll miss them when I’m gone,” referencing her imagined imprisonment. An elderly man is seen saying “No Polish prison scares me.”

The people filmed then say that “after 3.5 million Jews were murdered in Poland, including hundreds of thousands of children, the Poles have passed a new law.” They then add: “I will go to jail” and “Repeal this disgraceful law now.”

The video was heavily criticized in Poland, including by Jewish leaders, and was the lead story in the Polish media. It was removed late Wednesday evening. (The Forward captured the video and posted it here.)

Jonathan Ornstein, executive director of the JCC Krakow, in a Facebook post called on the Ruderman Foundation to remove the video from its campaign. He told The Associated Press that he spoke to the foundation’s president, Jay Ruderman, to tell him that the video was troubling and should be removed.

The American Jewish Committee also issued a statement Wednesday saying it “decries” the video.

“We have made abundantly clear our opposition to the new legislation,” AJC CEO David Harris said in the statement. “That said, this video, which I just viewed, is deeply troubling and misguided. Whatever its intentions, it only makes a bad situation worse by sweepingly and inaccurately accusing Poland of waging a ‘Holocaust’ against the Jewish people during the war, and calling on the United States to suspend diplomatic ties with the Central European nation and NATO ally.”

The Ruderman Family Foundation released a statement saying that “after a hugely successful campaign that went viral internationally and among American Jews and Israelis who have signed the petition — the Foundation was contacted by the Polish Jewish community and because of their concerns for their safety, we decided to halt the campaign.”

Israel and several Jewish organizations, as well as the Department of State and the French Foreign Ministry, have protested the law. Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel, also opposed it while noting that blaming Poles for the Holocaust and use of the phrase “Polish death camp” is unfair.

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