February 03, 2008

Poles don't want to live with the Jews

Received by email. The link to the article is in Polish, but here it is, translated into English:

Warsaw commemorates the events of March 1968.

[In March 1968, the Polish authorities provoked student demonstrations, which were utilized to escalate the government-sponsored anti-Semitic campaign started by the communist party leader, Wladyslaw Gomulka, in the aftermath of the Six-Day War in the Middle East in June 1967--VR].

However, the prejudice toward the Jews isstill alive. TNS OBOP [the oldest research and marketing information company in Poland and Central Europe -- <http://www.tns-global.pl/about>] conducted a poll at the request of the Inter-Cultural Center for Professional Adaptation [MCAZ]. The poll probed our attitudes toward immigrants.

An excerpt from this study was included in the invitation to a press conference that we received in the newspaper from the MCAZ.

It shows that only 27% of Poles would want a Jew as a neighbor.

More people would like to have immigrants from Africa as neighbors (31%).

We asked Warsaw residents if they would like Israelis as neighbors. The most frequent answer was: "I do not harbor any prejudices, but I would not like to live next to a Jew."

Why? Explanations varied. "It's a tradition" - explained Barbara Mazur from the Wola district. "Because you never know what to expect from them" - said Jan Kasprzak, an economist from Wilanow.

Tolerance from a Distance.

The results of the TNS OBOP poll do not agree with a study just published by the daily Polska. It concluded that Poles do not consider themselves anti-Semites. Fifty seven percent believe that we are free of prejudice.

Why such discrepancy between studies? Prof. Janusz Czapinski, Warsaw University Institute of Psychology, explains that this is a typical [Polish] reaction. "A question about anti-Semitism involves a big distance from the topic. The respondents do not require any contact with the Jews to respond to the question. In the case of neighborhood the distance significantly shortens. At this level antipathy and reservations may surface. I suspect that if a question was asked whether the respondent would have accepted a Jewish son or daughter in-law, even fewer people would give a positive answer" - says the professor. "The truth is that Poles are tolerant, but only from a distance."

Shallow, but Wide Piotr Kadlcik, chairman, Warsaw Jewish Congregation, has no illusions. In his opinion, anti-Semitism in Poland even 40 years after the March events is a big problem. "It is widely spread, but fortunately shallow" - he diagnoses. "It means that we know that we would not want a Jew for a neighbor or a boss, but when asked for a reason, we have usually a problem with an explanation. Why? Because the majority of people saying that has never had any contact with a Jew" - adds Kadlcik.

How to change this situation? Kadlcik has a simple recipe: "Educate, educate, and more educate" - he says.

This year education means.... official ceremonies. Their organizers rely on two events: the staging of the play "Forefathers" [This classic 19th century Polish play, which was stopped in January 1968 for supposedly exaggerated anti-Russian accents in the staging of the drama, caused protests from students and writers.] and the placing of a commemorative plaque at the Gdanski railroad station in Warsaw [Many thousands of Jews - including my family and close relatives - left Poland in 1967-1971 from this station; there is already a commemorative plaque there placed by the "Shalom"Foundation 10 years ago. I don't understand why a new one is needed. See http://www.izrael.badacz.org/zydzi_w_polsce/katalog_mazowsze_warsaw_inne.html
Scroll all the way down to the last picture].