Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Poland Wants to Improve Ties with Israel, but Only Gradually

May 9, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An American Jewish leader who met last month in Warsaw with Polish leader Wojciech Jaruzelski says he came away from the meeting with the impression that Poland intends to improve its relations with Israel gradually and finally restore full diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Poland, which broke diplomatic relations with Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, presently has low-level diplomatic ties with Israel, in the form of interest sections representing each country in the other.

Kalman Sultanik, vice president of the World Jewish Congress, headed a delegation of Jewish leaders who met with Jaruzelski.

The group also included Stefan Grayek, president of the World Federation of Jewish Fighters; Dr. Lionel Kopelowitz, chairman of the Board of Deputies of British Jewry; and Chaim Zadok, former Israeli justice minister, who heads the Federation of Polish Jews.

All of them were attending the 45th anniversary commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in the Polish capital.

“Jaruzelski made it clear to us that Poland has to move slowly on the issue of Polish-Israeli diplomatic relations,” Sultanik related in an interview.

“He told us that Poland cannot deal with Israel in isolation. He noted that Poland has strong economic ties with the Arab world, ties which are important to Polish economic progress and development.

“He pointed out that Poland relies on the raw materials which it receives from the Arab countries,” Sultanik said.


According to Sultanik, Jaruzelski also pointed out that now “is not the right time” to upgrade Israeli-Polish relations, because of the continuing riots and violence in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

During the two-hour meeting, which was held April 19 at the official Belvedere Palace, the participants discussed the issue of the anti-Semitic campaigns of 1967 and 1968, when Wladislaw Gomulka was the Polish leader. Some 20,000 Jews left Poland because the Gomulka regime’s anti-Semitism.

Sultanik said that Jaruzelski told the delegation that he viewed the events of the Gomulka period as a “serious mistake.”

He said the Polish leader assured the delegation that a recent statement, published in the government newspaper Tribuna Ludu, denouncing the anti-Semitism of the Gomulka period is the official position of his government.

Jaruzelski said, however, that he cannot come out with an official statement denouncing that period because the anti-Semitism of the Gomulka period “cannot be viewed in isolation” and that other internal and broader issues are involved.

The Polish leader said that his countrymen “feel an obligation toward the Jewish people” because of the Holocaust.

But he expressed bitterness over the film “Shoah,” charging that it portrayed the Polish people as anti-Semites who collaborated with the Nazis, Sultanik said.

Recommended from JTA