WARSAW, Poland, Dec. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — AJC Central Europe, together with the University of Warsaw’s Center for Research on Prejudice, cosponsored a seminar on “Antisemitism in Poland: Diagnosis, Consequences, and Methods of Prevention.”
The seminar took place amidst a rise in hate crimes targeting ethnic and religious minorities in Poland. In 2016, according to data collected by Poland’s national police, there were more than 700 incidents of religiously and racially motivated hate crimes, 10 percent of them anti-Semitic.
In addition, a study by the Center for Research on Prejudice found that almost 30 percent of Poles said they would not accept a Jew as a co-worker and would prefer not to have a Jewish neighbor. More than half would not agree to a family member marrying a person of Jewish origin.
“Due to the unique heritage and historical trauma in Poland, we have a special duty to be alarmed when the demons of anti-Semitism raise their head,” said AJC Central Europe Director Agnieszka Markiewicz. “The manner in which anti-Semitism is addressed is a litmus test of our democracy and public institutions. Anti-Semitism is a problem for all of Polish society, not just for Jews.”
Seminar participants discussed an updated assessment of anti-Semitism in Poland and the effectiveness of countermeasures.
One key conclusion was the need for Poland to officially adopt the Working Definition of anti-Semitism that was adopted last year by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Poland is a member of the IHRA. To date, the definition has been adopted by the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Romania, and Bulgaria. “The working definition is an important tool in identifying and fighting anti-Semitism, especially for law enforcement agencies and the judiciary,” said Markiewicz.
“Poles today are more willing to express discriminatory views, and many of them are indifferent to verbal and physical violence,” said Michał Bilewicz, Director of the Center for Research on Prejudice. “With anti-Jewish hatred on the internet increasing, people have become less sensitive to anti-Semitism.”
Seminar participants represented diverse public, religious, and academic institutions, as well as NGOs.
Professor Magdalena Gawin, Undersecretary of State at Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, stressed the importance of discussing outlawing extremist organizations such as ONR (National Radical Camp) and the left-wing Antifa. “It is impossible to eradicate anti-Semitism with law enforcement alone. It is most of all a matter of proper education, on both the