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

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.

Read more at Airmail

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

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy