(JTA) — The son of a rabbi in Poland said police in Krakow assaulted him and gave him Nazi salutes outside a synagogue, but police denied the accusation and said he was drunk and disorderly.
In the incident late Sunday afternoon, Yaakov Gluck, 40, of Brooklyn, told JTA that he was prevented from giving a tour of the Kupa Synagogue to friends by a Jewish community employee. Gluck said he insisted that the employee call another member who regularly allows him to show the synagogue to guests, but the employee instead called police, who wrestled him to the ground. Later, he said, other police officers did the Nazi salutes to offend him while he was in custody at a police station.
Sebastian Gleniu, a spokesman for the Krakow police, denied the allegations concerning any sort of anti-Semitic discourse or behavior by the officers who arrested Gluck and later at the station. He told the news site Wirtualna Polska that Gluck was drunk and disorderly, obstructed the work of the officers called to remove him from the premises and shouted obscenities at them.
Gluck, who was released from custody within five hours of being detained, told JTA he was not disorderly but declined to say whether he was inebriated.
Gluck, a frequent visitor to Krakow to see his rabbi father, Edgar, has had several disputes with some members of the Krakow Jewish community over hosting parties on Shabbat at his apartment and at friends’ apartments. Gluck claims that Jewish community leaders in Krakow wanted to stop the parties because they saw them as competition, but his critics say the events were loud, involved the consumption of alcohol and caused a disturbance in the city’s Jewish quarter.
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who is Orthodox Jewish and represents parts of Brooklyn, condemned the behavior of the Polish policemen involved based on Gluck’s account.
A law enforcement officer “in Poland giving him a Heil Hitler salute is beyond outrageous,” Hikind wrote in a statement.
Jonny Daniels, the founder of the From the Depths association promoting dialogue between Jews and Poles, said anti-Semitic incidents are rare in Poland and that ones involving police officers are unheard of.
“Mr. Hikind’s rushed condemnation, before the facts are ascertained, for examples using security camera footage from the incident, are irresponsible and counterproductive to the fight against anti-Semitism in Poland,” Daniels said.