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Background Report Jews Are Being Scapegoated in Poland As Officials Crack Down on Solidarity Trade U

December 24, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

There has been a steady increase in anti-Semitism in Poland since martial law was declared there a week ago, according to reports arriving here. Anti-Semitic incidents have been fanned by government circles in their campaign against Solidarity.

According to information reaching the American Jewish Committee’s European office in Paris, anti-Semitic posters are now being put up in Warsaw and other cities. These, however, are being torn down by the Polish population almost as fast as they are put up, it was reported by the AJCommittee European representative, Nives Fox.

Refugees coming out of Poland on the Chopin Express in Vienna have brought with them pamphlets being handed out that charge Jews with buying up all the food in the country to sell on the black market. At the same time, there are reports that Jews are being turned away from bread lines.

Polish radio reports denouncing Jack Kuron, the leader of the liberal Polish organization KOR, have depicted him as being in contact with “Jewish emigres.”

The Grunwald Union, described by the American Jewish Congress as an anti-Semitic organization, is disseminating the canard that the present struggle for freedom in Poland is the result of subversive efforts by “100,000 Jews disguised under Polish names.”


Early this week, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency carried other reports from Poland dealing with anti-Semitic developments.

A report from Warsaw quoted an article in the official government newspaper, Trybuna Ludu, attacking two prominent Solidarity advisers, Bronislaw Geremek and Adam Michnik, for their “Zionist sympathies.”

Another report from Warsaw said that Dr. Marek Edelman, one of the last surviving leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, is among the thousands of Solidarity officials arrested by Polish authorities. Edelman was a commander of the underground Jewish resistance movement in Poland during World War II and is now one of the country’s leading cardiologists.

Geremek, a leading advisor to Solidarity leader Lech Walesa, is a particular target for anti-Semitic attack in the media, tracts and posters. Particular emphasis is laid on Geremek’s Jewish origin and his family name Lewartow. He is portrayed as a “cosmopolitan Zionist revisionist,” according to accounts reaching the AJCommittee.

On December 15 a Professor Kossecki, described as a political scientist, delivered a vitriolic denunciation of Polish Jews during an hour-long interview on Warsaw TV and radio. His charges included that Jews had managed to take control of Polish industry and to set Catholic church and liberal Communist leaders on the wrong road. He insisted that KOR members were former Stalinists, often of Jewish origin, who “wanted the death of Poland.”


Leaders of the AJCommittee, AJCongress, B’nai B’rith International and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith yesterday called upon Premier Wojciech Jaruzelski of Poland to take immediate action to halt the scapegoating of the country’s approximately 5,000 Jews.

Phil Baum, associate executive director of the AJCongress, declared: “This deliberate provocation of anti-Semitism is being spread widely in the media-despite universal recognition that there are no more than 4,000-5,000 Jews in all of Poland, most of whom are elderly and infirm. This is a deliberate attempt on the part of the Communist regime to exploit anti-Semitism in order to defeat and divert the mounting demand for democracy and liberty.”

In a telegram to Jaruzelski, sent to the Polish Embassy in Washington, Abraham Foxman, associate national director of the ADL, said:

“The singling out of Jews in Solidarity and the arrest of Jewish intellectuals is reminiscent of Nazi tactics all too tragically familiar in Europe. Three million Polish Jews were killed in the Holocaust and thousands who survived were driven out of the country 13 years ago in a massive anti-Semitic campaign. And now the remnant of the Jewish community, mostly elderly, are again subjected to the nightmare of yet another anti-Semitic attack.”

In a message brought to the Polish Embassy by representatives of the AJCommittee and B’nai B’rith International, Jaruzelski was urged to issue an “immediate rejection of irresponsible and dangerous anti-Semitic actions.” The message, signed by Jack Spitzer, president of B’nai B’rith and Maynard Wishner, AJCommittee president, expressed “anguish” about “ugly charges against Jews so reminiscent of the scapegoating tactics of the Hitler period.”


However, officials at the Embassy refused to accept the message or even acknowledge the presence of Warren Eisenberg, director of the International Council of B’nai B’rith, and Hyman Bookbinder, director of the AJCommittee Washington office, who sought to meet with an Embassy official.

The two representatives stated to the press gathered outside the Embassy that the concern of their organizations was not limited to Jews. “Our concern is for all Poles,” Eisenberg said. “We object to violence and brutality in general.”


The arrest of Edelman was assailed today by Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. In a cable to Jaruzelski he noted that Edelman’s personal prestige as an anti-Nazi partisan had protected him during earlier periods in Poland’s troubled post-war history. “Now, however,” Schindler said, “the Polish government does not hesitate to arrest even so prominent and patriotic a figure as Marek Edelman.”

He urged Jaruzelski “to order his immediate release.”

The American Reform leader, who recently completed a three-year term as president of the American Federation of Polish Jews, also deplored the arrest of Prof. Henryk Samsonowicz, rector of the University of Warsaw, with whom the UAHC signed a cultural exchange agreement last April in New York. The agreement made historical records, religious articles and artifacts documentating 1,000 years of Jewish life available to American scholars and researchers for the first time. Schindler called for Samsonowicz’s immediate release.

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