Israel holds symbolic opening of embassy in Warsaw to mark 70 years of relations


WARSAW, Poland (JTA) – Israel’s ambassador to Poland held a symbolic re-creation of the establishment of the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw, the first Israeli mission established abroad.

In September 1948, the State of Israel opened the post at the Bristol Hotel. At the time of its inauguration, the Israeli flag was seen hanging on the hotel balcony. On Tuesday, Ambassador Anna Azari greeted the invited guests to the same balcony.

“Before I came to Poland, I did not know that it was here that the first embassy of Israel was opened,” Azari said. This year is special for both countries, she said, “because Poland celebrates 100 years of independence, and we are 70.”

The Israeli ambassador said that both countries “have done a lot together and I hope that we will do even more over the next 30 years.”

Polish President Andrzej Duda offered his congratulations in a letter read by a government minister, Wojciech Kolarski.

“2018 is an opportunity to recall that Poland was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Israel,” Duda wrote. “Many citizens of the State of Israel came from the country of Poland, or Polin in Hebrew, and the Polish language often resounded in Israeli houses and public institutions.”

Marian Kalwary took part in the original dedication 70 years ago, when she was 18.

“I came here thanks to my mother, who really wanted to see it,” Kalwary recalled. “It was a period when people were embarrassed about their Jewish origin. My mother began to cry when the Israeli flag was hung. And this emotion of my mother is what I remember most of that day.”

Poland and Israel became embroiled in a row earlier this year over the former’s law making it illegal to blame the Polish nation of crimes that were committed by the Nazis. Several months later the parliament made it a civil offense rather than a criminal one.

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