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Anti-Zionism and the Expulsion of Jews from Poland in 1968

Sept. 19 2016

In 1968, the Polish Communist party unleashed a wave of “anti-Zionist” propaganda, expelled Jews en masse from the party and from the military, and effectively forced many out of the country. This attack on the Jews was a product of the Eastern bloc’s turn against Israel in the aftermath of the Six-Day War, latent anti-Semitism, internal dynamics of the Polish and Soviet governments, and the Polish regime’s attempt to redirect popular unrest away from itself and onto the Jews. Simon Gansinger writes:

The assault on the Jews teemed with declarations against “anti-Semitism.” At countless rallies, people carried signs that read “Anti-Semitism—No! Anti-Zionism—Yes!” Yet of the 8,300 members expelled from the Communist party, nearly all were Jewish. Almost 9,000 Jews lost their jobs and hundreds were thrown out of their apartments. The regime allowed Jewish citizens to leave the country under two conditions: they must revoke their citizenship, and they must declare Israel as the country of their destination. Thereby the regime legitimized the purge in the most cynical fashion: why would these people go to Israel if they hadn’t been Zionists all along? . . .

After Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War, the member states of the Warsaw Pact, with the exception of Romania, cut diplomatic ties with Israel. The developments in Poland, however, soon took a peculiar course. On June 19, 1967, one week after the suspension of diplomatic relations with Israel, Władysław Gomułka, [the de-facto head of state], made a remarkable comment on the Polish dimensions of the events in the Middle East. Some Polish Jews, he was sorry to hear, sympathized with the enemies of socialism, the “Israeli aggressors,” thereby forfeiting their claim to be loyal Polish citizens. These people were not just morally reprehensible; they also constituted a potential “fifth column” in the country, which had to be eradicated before it could gain strength.

The significance of Gomułka’s “fifth column” remark can hardly be overestimated. The term invoked a well-organized Zionist conspiracy whose center was to be found in the Jewish community, which in 1967 counted no more than 30,000 members out of a Polish population of 32 million.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Communism, History & Ideas, Polish Jewry, Six-Day War

Germany’s Bid to Keep Israel off the UN Security Council

March 21 2018

The Jewish state has never held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. For the first 50 years of its existence, it was denied membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, which control candidacies for these rotating seats. Then it was finally admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which promptly agreed to wait another twenty years before approving Jerusalem for a Security Council candidacy. Now, Benny Avni notes, Germany is poised to block action:

As a good-faith gesture, the Western European and Others Group promised Israel that it and Belgium would run uncontested for the two open 2019-20 [Security Council] seats. Then, in 2016, Germany announced it would also run—even though it already served as a council member [multiple times, including] as recently as 2011-12. . . . [U]nless Belgium yields, Israel’s hopes for UN respect seem doomed for now—and maybe for the foreseeable future.

Why? Diplomats have been telling me Israel violates too many Security Council resolutions to be a member—as in the one passed during the last weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, which marked Jewish holy sites as occupied Palestinian territory. But is building a porch in [the West Bank town of] Ma’ale Adumim really such a huge threat to world peace?

How about, then, a report released last week by UN experts on the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions? It found Germany violated a council ban on sparkling wines, exporting $151,840 worth of bubbly and other luxury goods to Kim Jong Un’s cronies. Or how about, as the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reports, German companies exporting to Iran banned materials that were later used in chemical attacks in Syria?

Never mind. Germany (and Belgium) will surely benefit from the UN’s habit of magnifying Israel’s violations beyond all proportion. Thus, Israel’s petition to join the most prestigious UN club will likely be rejected, thanks to a late entry by a shameless [and] cynical German power play against the Jewish state.

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More about: Germany, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-German relations, United Nations