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Tuesday, 11 July 2006

On phenomenon of Polish - Jewish relations

Minister Junczyk-Ziomecka met with a group of Israeli journalists. At the meeting the participants discussed the radio news in connection with Ariel Golan, present at the meeting, who triggered a media storm about the alleged boycott initiated by the Israeli government against the Minister of Education, Mr Roman Giertych. Mr Golan declared that the word “boycott” was his own interpretation of the Israeli ambassador’s statements and that he himself had not used that word. Minister Roman Giertych was praised for participating in the celebrations commemorating Polish Jews killed in Jedwabne on 10 July where he officially declared that in Poland there is not and there will never be a place for anti-semistism.

The participants of the meeting discussed an extraordinary phenomenon of Polish-Jewish relations shaped by their common history which has both bright and very dark aspects. The best evidence for good relations is a series of recent events in Poland: 16 Festival of Jewish Culture in Cracov - the biggest festival devoted to Jewish culture in Europe, celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Kilece crime and 65th anniversary of Jedwabne. The participants emphasized that Poland is the friendliest partner of Israel in Europe and that this fact is often a surprise to many Jews of diaspora visiting Poland.

The issue of trips of Israeli boys and girls to Poland was discussed in the context of developing good relations and breaking with harmful stereotypes. The participants in the discussion agreed that meeting of young Poles with young Israelis is the best way to abolish mutual prejudices. However a lot of problems were pointed out in reference to trips of young Israelis to Poland, such as high costs of flights, strict itineraries which take in only the extermination camps, the problem of isolating Israeli groups from the surroundings during their stay in Poland.

The contribution of President Lech Kaczyński into Polish – Jewish relations was recognized and appreciated, especially his role in the opening of the Museum of History of Polish Jews. At the end of the meeting the participants expressed their wishes and hopes for further development of good relations and frequent visits both in Poland and in Israel.
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