Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal today said there have been many indications that Polish-Jewish dialogue has entered a truly mature stage, marked by openness, seriousness, and readiness to address even the most painful and sensitive aspects of Polish relations with Jewish groups both inside and outside of Poland.
In her remarks at “The Nature of Change in the Perception of Polish-Jewish Relations in Recent Times,” Ms. Rosenthal said the Obama Administration has an unwavering commitment to combat hate and promote tolerance in the world.
“I will not sugar-coat the troubling incidents of anti-Semitism that continue to be reported in Poland, as well as in other European countries and other regions of the world. However, with all the forward-leaning activities taking place in Poland in recent years around Jewish relations and combating anti-Semitism, this conference is an excellent way to exchange views and continue the constructive engagement.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She noted that the Obama administration is attempting through traditional diplomacy, public messaging and grassroots programs all over the world – to confront and combat hatred in all its ugly forms, whether it is hatred directed against people on account of their religion, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation or differences of political opinion or due to their country of origin.
“Anti-Semitism is one such form of hatred rooted in historical forces that go far beyond any current policy debate. If we want to change this trend, we need to stand together in our efforts to promote tolerance, acceptance and compassion.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She said she was pleased to be able to point to several positive examples in Poland, from the highest levels of government to individual citizens, where action is being taken to eradicate decades-old canards and stereotypes.
“This September, Poland, which currently holds the European Union Presidency, declined to attend the commemoration of the Durban Conference. We have seen Poland’s government, including President Bronis’aw Komorowski and Foreign Minister Rados Sikorski respond strongly to anti-Semitic statements and acts, including the desecration of the Jedwabne Holocaust memorial with the words “they were flammable,” and the rearranging of bushes which formed the Star of David into a swastika at a memorial in Bia.” -Ms. Rosenthal
She stressed that speaking of these incidents as well as other forms of assault against Jews and other minorities, Foreign Minister Sikorski said, “There is no room for such behavior in Polish society – even if it is the work of but a small group of extremists. We stand in solidarity with all those who feel personally affected by these despicable acts.”
She stressed Poland is taking a stand against anti-Semitism and other forms of racism. She added that there is equal interest in improving Polish-Jewish relations in the United States as well.