Prominent Polish researchers of the Holocaust were verbally attacked with anti-Semitic slurs by Polish Holocaust deniers after a conference in Paris.
Professor Jacek Leociak from the Polish Academy of Sciences was insulted after leaving the School for Advanced Research in Social Sciences, where the conference was held, and he received death threats in online comments.
A similar attack happened to Professor Jan Grabowski, who works at the University of Ottawa, when after leaving the conference, a group of Poles called him “a dirty Jew.”
“During the whole two days of the meeting we were accompanied by a large group of Poles under the spiritual protection of a Catholic priest,” said Leociak.
“Two or three years ago, these people would not have dared to enter and to disrupt university lectures. Today, however, emboldened by the support of the Polish state, they are ready to show their faces and to confront scholars on their own ground,” wrote Grabowski on his Facebook page.
Grabowski, who specializes in Polish-Jewish relations during the Holocaust, filed a lawsuit for libel against the Polish League Against Defamation, an ultra-nationalist group that aims to ban discussion of the participation of Poles in the murder of Jews, in the frame of local antisemitism.
The attacks come amid a surge of far-right extremism in Poland. The current ultra-nationalist government is attempting to rewrite history and curb some of today’s basic freedoms like the rule of law and freedom of speech.
Far-right Polish organizations do not accept the results of research carried out by historians, which indicate the active participation of Poles in murdering Jews during the Holocaust.
Last year, Polish lawmakers voted to water down a Holocaust denial law that angered the United States and Israel, and removed parts that imposed jail terms on people who mention Poland’s active role in Nazi atrocities and make the use of phrases such as “Polish Death Camps” to refer to the Polish death camps, punishable.
The Ambassador of Israel in Poland, Anna Azari, has been summoned for the second time last week after acting Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz quoted former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir as saying that “Poles suckle antisemitism from their mothers’ milk”.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki canceled his trip to Israel for the Weisgrad summit over comments made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Here I am saying Poles cooperated with the Nazis. I know the history and I don’t whitewash it. I bring it up,” Netanyahu said at the Warsaw conference on the Middle East.