Is Poland’s Jewish Revival an Expression of Philo-Semitism, or Something Else?

March 13 2020

Only about 10 percent of Poland’s roughly 3 million Jews survived World War II, and most of those who remained in the country were forced out in 1968. But the annual Krakow Jewish Culture Festival is the largest in Europe, bringing in some 30,000 attendants in the course of a week—most of whom are Gentiles. Sarah Glazer examines the strange nostalgia that drives this interest:

“It’s fashionable to have a Jewish friend—the way it’s fashionable to have a gay friend,” Genevieve Zubrzycki, a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan who is writing a book about the fashion for all things Jewish in Poland, was told by many non-Jewish Poles she interviewed. . . .“What they’re fighting for is a different kind of social order in Poland from one ruled by a right-wing party and the Catholic Church.”

But, more surprisingly, young non-Jewish Poles are becoming fascinated with Jewish culture at the same time that the country is experiencing an equally visible revival of open anti-Semitism. . . . The fact that the history of Jews in Poland was suppressed so long under Communism has also added to its mystique.

While the revival is accompanied by much philo-Semitic rhetoric, some Polish Jews themselves are skeptical:

“There are very few Jews left, so Poles took it on themselves to create this missing culture. They are just presenting [Jews] as folklore, as Fiddlers on the Roof,” said Anna Zielinska, . . . who advises an NGO that combats anti-Semitism. This “folk bubble,” she said, reinforces stereotypes. “That’s why [the festivals and so forth] don’t bear fruit in combating intolerance against Jews.”

Such festivals permit Poles to create a “self-serving and safe narrative about the Jewish past . . . and allow Poles to [portray] themselves as good people, loving Jews,” said Elzbieta Janicka, a literary historian at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. Her book Philo-Semitic Violence? argues that this falsely harmonious version of history is a way for Poles to avoid responsibility for anti-Semitism and their role in the pogroms before, during, and after the Holocaust.

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Read more at Airmail

More about: Anti-Semitism, Philo-Semitism, Poland, Polish Jewry

 

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy