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Polish Diplomat Blames JTA for Worldwide Concern over Polish Jews

May 24, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An official spokesman of the Polish Government, Andrzej Konopacki, charged today at an Embassy press conference that the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was “the main agency of slander” and complained that JTA had created worldwide concern over the fate of Polish Jewry. Konopacki is listed by the State Department as First Secretary of the Embassy in charge of all propaganda activities in the United States. He met with reporters following picketing of the Embassy by Jewish leaders including presidents of national organizations. The presidents, led by Rabbi Herschel Schacter, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major National Jewish Organizations, had called on Under-Secretary of State Nicholas Katzenbach this morning to ask U.S. Government intercession to aid Jewish victims of Polish anti-Semitism.

The Polish diplomat denounced the JTA and the agency’s Washington correspondent Milton Friedman, for waging an allegedly “slanderous campaign” that created a “false impression” that a Jewish problem exists in Poland. He said the JTA was a “subservient mass media’ and that the Government of Poland had carefully followed JTA dispatches. Konopacki became so emotional in raging against JTA’s alleged “confusion of public opinion” that he lost control of himself and broke off the conference. He sought to evade the focus of photographers who tried to photograph him as his arms flailed about.

Earlier in the press conference, Konopacki attacked the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington for presenting a “slanderous” statement to another Embassy official, First Secretary Jan Kinast. He said that Kinast had three times interrupted the reading of the statement by a Jewish community official because its language was “inappropriate” and charges “false.” The Polish diplomat forced the Jews to listen to quotations from Communist Party boss Wladyslaw Gomulka and Premier Jozef Cyrankiewicz, Konopacki said in describing the confrontation between Kinast and the Jewish community delegation led by Dr. Isaac Franck. The presidents of major Jewish groups picketed outside but did not accompany the Washington leaders who met with Kinast in the Embassy.


Konopacki said he was unaware of any protest by the U.S. Government or representation on behalf of Jews. (State Department sources said that the U.S. Government deemed it inappropriate to intrude into the “internal affairs” of Poland. The sources said that the U.S. would reject any intercession by a foreign government, for instance, on the Negro problem here.)

The Polish Embassy did not permit the Jewish delegation to finish reading a statement voicing moral concern over “the Polish Government’s virulent anti-Semitic campaign.” It was learned that the delegation was curtly received and virtually dismissed. Kinast refused to answer questions raised by the delegation on the status of Jews. More than 100 pickets marched in the rain. Among them were Protestant, Catholic, Negro and Jewish clergymen and leaders.

Katzenbach told the group representing major national organizations, led by Rabbi Schacter, that the Department of State was keeping developments affecting Polish Jewry under constant vigilance. John Gronouski, U.S. Ambassador to Poland, was scheduled to participate but did not appear because of his resignation last night. A decision was made by the Department to remain in touch with the Jewish conference. The purpose of the visit to the Department was to voice concern over the anti-Semitic campaign in Eastern Europe, especially Poland. Accompanying Rabbi Schacter were Yehuda Hellman, executive director of the President’s Conference; Rabbi Jacob Rudin, president of the Synagogue Council of America; Rabbi Israel Miller, American Zionist Council; Rabbi Pesach Levovitz, president of the Rabbinical Council of America; Henry Rapaport, president of the United Synagogue of America, national commander Samuel Samuels of the Jewish War Veterans, and representatives of all other constituent bodies.

(The Bureau of the Socialist International adopted a resolution calling on the Polish authorities to end their “anti-Jewish policy and the persecution of those fighting for freedom of self-expression.” The resolution expressed concern over the “dismissal of officials on racial grounds and as punishment for deeds attributed to their children.” In Brussels, three organizations, one representing concentration camp survivors, one veterans of the Belgian underground and one a youth group, petitioned Polish Communist Party boss Wladyslaw Gomulka to permit Polish Jews to leave the country, and protested the Warsaw regime’s espousal of “Arab fascism.” In New York, seven local Jewish pro-Communist fraternal and cultural groups sent letters to the Polish ambassadors in Washington and at the United Nations decrying the Warsaw regime’s anti-Jewish campaign as “the age-old maneuver to make the small remnant of Polish Jews the scapegoat in the present difficult situation.”)

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