Jews, Poles join in condemnation

Stanislaw Michalkiewicz. Photo: YouTube screenshot

JEWISH groups have joined a major Polish communal organisation in condemning a broadcaster visiting from Poland for his blatantly antisemitic remarks.

Speaking at churches and halls around Australia and New Zealand, Stanislaw Michalkiewicz of Poland’s right-wing Radio Maryja, has in the past labelled Jews seeking compensation for property and possessions stolen in the Holocaust as “stealing money from Poles”.

Michalkiewicz, whose lectures are in Polish, has said Poland is being “outmanoeuvred by Judeans who are trying to force our government to pay extortion money” and offensively jibed that Auschwitz is closed only “temporarily”.

His tour to Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Gold Coast and New Zealand has been hosted by NSW-based conservative Polish organisation Nasza Polonia (Our Polish Diaspora), whose president Adam Gajkowski, a diaspora affairs adviser to Poland’s senate, blamed “the very strong Jewish lobby” in Australia for criticism of its guest. Gajkowski has not responded to The AJN.

The Polish Community Council of Australia had not commented to The AJN by press time. However, Aleksander Gancarz, president of the Australian Institute of Polish Affairs, which dialogues closely with the Jewish community, wrote to Polish Australian groups urging a boycott of Michalkiewicz.

“Our Institute has been active in defending Poland’s good reputation and in building good relations of trust and mutual respect between the Polish and Jewish communities in Australia since 1991,” he wrote, adding the visit “could endanger those achievements”.

In a letter to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), Gancarz described the tour as “embarrassing and alarming … We hope our concerns are forcefully communicated to all those who organised Michalkiewicz’s visit”.

Bernard Korbman, president of the Australian Society of Polish Jews and their Descendants, told The AJN the visit “spreads a lot of ill will” and threatens the warming relations between Australia’s Jewish and Polish communities.

Korbman said that while the Vatican has condemned Radio Maryja, Michalkiewicz’s extremism is shared by “rogue priests”. Many Poles oppose his views, and The AJN understands he was barred from speaking at Polish House, a community centre in Auckland.

Lamenting the rise of “ultra-nationalist, antisemitic parties in Europe”, ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim stated, “Jewish families from Poland who lost their homes and belongings during the Holocaust have been waiting for more than 70 years for restitution or compensation. It is outrageous for anyone to suggest they are trying to ‘steal money from Poles’ … and nothing will ever be able to compensate them for the loss of their loved ones.”

PETER KOHN