One of the leaders of Israel’s main opposition bloc has denounced “the hatred of Jews in Poland, which continues to poison the air”, after pictures emerged of an antisemitic Easter ritual carried out by residents of a Polish town.
Yair Lapid, of Israel’s Blue and White Coalition, responded to video footage of inhabitants of the town of Pruchnik beating, hanging and ultimately burning an effigy of Judas Iscariot, which was dressed like a strictly orthodox Jew.
The video, pubished the Israeli Kan news channel, shows adults and children in Pruchnik on Good Friday, beating the effigy before setting it on fire. It was dressed in a black brimmed hat with a beard and peyot – sidelocks – making it represent a strictly orthodox Jew, as well as being given a long nose, a centuries-old antisemitic stereotype.
אנטישמיות בפולין: אנשי העיירה פרוכניק, בדרום פולין, הכו ושרפו בערב ליל הסדר בובה בעלת מאפיינים יהודיים סטראוטיפיים, אשר אמורה לייצג את יהודה איש קריות. זאת על רקע ציון יום צליבתו של ישו בעולם הנוצרי@antonia_yamin (צילום: J-nerations) pic.twitter.com/AvLakmmvh6— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) April 21, 2019
“Poles should fight antisemitism, instead of passing laws which deny their part in the Holocaust,” Mr Lapid tweeted.
“The Netanyahu government should stop hesitating and denounce them.”
שנאת היהודים בפולין ממשיכה להרעיל את האוויר. הפולנים צריכים להלחם באנטישמיות, לא להעביר חוקים המכחישים את חלקם בשואה. ממשלת נתניהו צריכה להפסיק לגמגם ולגנות באופן נחרץ. https://t.co/jke0O2A0MU— יאיר לפיד Yair Lapid (@yairlapid) April 21, 2019
Mr Lapid was referring to a highly controversial law passed by the Polish government last year to criminalise accusations that the country was complicit in Nazi war crimes which took place on its soil during the Second World War.
The law, which carried the possibility of up to three years in prison for anyone who broke it, particularly targeted use of the term “Polish death camps” to refer to the Nazi extermination camps set up in the country during the period of German occupation. After international outcry, it was decriminalised.
Jesus and all twelve of his apostles were Jewish. However, the Jewishness of Judas was later deliberately emphasised by the church to promote antisemitism by depicting Jews as untrustworthy and willing to betray anything and anyone for money.
The video was published a day after the US ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, received multiple antisemitic comments from Polish twitter users after wishing Jews a happy Passover in Polish.
Z okazji rozpoczynającego się dziś wieczorem święta Pesach, obchodzonego na pamiątkę wyjścia Izraelitów z niewoli egipskiej, życzę pokoju i radosnego święta! Chag Pesach Sameach, Happy Passover! pic.twitter.com/2ZXvQ1S4i6— Georgette Mosbacher (@USAmbPoland) April 19, 2019
These included: “You are in Poland, not Israel,” and “F**k the Jews.” Other users asked the ambassador where the Easter message for Poles was, as the vast majority of Poles are Catholics. Ms Mosbacher tweeted out an Easter message on Sunday.
Prior to the Second World War, about ten percent of Poland’s population was Jewish.
Pruchnik had a small but thriving Jewish community for centuries, with well over a thousand Jewish inhabitants at its height. During the Holocaust, hundreds of Jews were either deported from the town to death camps or were shot at the town’s edge. Jews did not return to the town after the war.
Robert Singer, CEO of the World Jewish Congress, described the event as a "ghastly revival of medieval antisemitism.
"We can only hope that the Church and other institutions will do their best to overcome these frighful prejudices which are a blot on Poland's good name.”