US Jewish group withdraws Holocaust video offensive to Poles

A woman holds a banner reading in Italian "Poland, negationist country" during a protest in front of the Polish embassy in Rome on Feb. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Updated 22 February 2018

US Jewish group withdraws Holocaust video offensive to Poles

WARSAW, Poland: A prominent Jewish-American foundation removed a video from YouTube which had sparked outrage in Poland and beyond on Wednesday with its provocative use of the historically inaccurate term “Polish Holocaust” to protest a controversial new Polish law criminalizing some comments about the Holocaust.
The private Ruderman Family Foundation also launched a campaign calling for the United States to sever its ties with Poland, an ally in NATO where the US has recently deployed troops.
The Boston-based foundation put out the video on Wednesday in reaction to the new Polish law, which criminalizes falsely attributing the Holocaust crimes of Nazi Germany to Poland. The measure has angered Israel, where it is seen as an attempt to whitewash the actions of Poles who killed Jews during World War II.
The provocative use of the term “Polish Holocaust” in the video was seen as hugely offensive to many in Poland. Many of Nazi Germany’s death camps, like Auschwitz, were located in German-occupied Poland. Poles had no role in operating them but accounted for the largest number of victims, after Jews.
Jonathan Ornstein, director of the Jewish Community Center in Krakow, told the AP that he explained to foundation president Jay Ruderman how troubling the video was and was assured that the video would be removed. Later in the evening the video was gone from YouTube.
“The term ‘Polish Holocaust’ is not accepted by any reasonable person whether Jewish, Polish, Israeli or German,” Ornstein had said earlier. “Emotions are running high and harmful, inaccurate comments from various sides have been published, but this is indefensible,” Ornstein said.
The Ruderman Family Foundation released a statement saying that “after a hugely successful campaign that went viral internationally and among American Jews and Israelis who have signed the petition — the Foundation was contacted by the Polish Jewish community and because of their concerns for their safety, we decided to halt the campaign.”
Michal Dworczyk, an aide to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, described the video as an affront to the thousands of Poles who risked their lives during the war to help Jews.
Polish state television’s all-news channel TVP Info reported it as the top story on its website, calling the video “shocking.”
Witold Jurasz, a journalist with the private Polsat broadcaster, called the video “offensive and scandalous,” and said it “spits in the face of every Pole” — even those who, like him, oppose Poland’s Holocaust law.
Poland’s Holocaust law, which takes effect Feb. 28, has already triggered rising anti-Semitism in Poland. In reaction to criticism from Holocaust historians and others, the government said it will be reviewed by Poland’s constitutional court.
Deputy foreign minister Bartosz Cichocki said Tuesday that no criminal charges would be brought under the law until the court reviews it.


Indians demonstrate against ‘divisive’ citizenship bill

Updated 11 December 2019

Indians demonstrate against ‘divisive’ citizenship bill

  • The bill, which goes to the upper house on Wednesday, would ensure citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but exclude Muslims

NEW DELHI: Protests erupted across various parts of India on Tuesday, a day after the lower house of Parliament passed the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) which makes religion the basis for granting Indian citizenship to minorities from neighboring countries. 

The bill, which goes to the upper house on Wednesday, would ensure citizenship for Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis and Buddhists from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but exclude Muslims.

“After the CAB, we are going to bring in the National Register of Citizens (NRC),” Home Minister Amit Shah said after the passage of the bill. 

The fear among a large section of Indians is that by bringing in the CAB and the NRC — a process to identify illegal immigrants — the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying to target Muslim minorities. 

They insist that the new bill protects all other communities except Muslims, who constitute around 14 percent of India’s total population.

The opposition Congress Party said that the bill was a move to “destroy the foundation” of India.

“The CAB is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation,” party leader Rahul Gandhi posted in a tweet.

Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul’s sister and a prominent opposition leader, called the bill “India’s tryst with bigotry.”

However, BJP spokesperson Sudesh Verma said: “The opposition is communalizing the bill. 

The CAB saves minorities who owe their origin to India from being prosecuted on grounds of religious status. The same is not the case with Muslims since they have not been prosecuted because of their religion.”

Eight northeastern states observed a day-long strike against the CAB. 

“Once the bill is implemented, the native tribal people will become permanent minorities in their own state,” Animesh Debbarma, a tribal leader who organized the strike in the state of Tripura said.

“The bill is against our fundamental rights and it is an attack on our constitution and secularism,” he told Arab News.

In Assam, some places saw violence with a vehicle belonging to the BJP state president vandalized.

In New Delhi, different civil society groups and individuals gathered close to the Indian Parliament and expressed their outrage at the “open and blatant attack” on what they called the “idea” of India.

“The CAB is not only against Muslim minorities but against all the minorities — be it Tamils or Nepali Gurkhas — and is a blatant attempt to polarize the society in the name of religion and turn India into a majoritarian Hindu state,” Nadeem Khan, head of United Against Hate, a campaign to connect people from different faiths, said.

Rallies and protests were also organized in Pune, Ahmadabad, Allahabad, Patna and Lucknow.

On Tuesday, more than 600 academics, activists, lawyers and writers called the bill “divisive, discriminatory, unconstitutional” in an open letter, and urged the government to withdraw the proposed law.

They said that the CAB, along with the NRC, “will bring untold suffering to people across the country. It will damage fundamentally and irreparably, the nature of the Indian republic.”

Delhi-based activist and a prominent human rights campaigner, Harsh Mander, said: “I feel the CAB is the most dangerous bill that has ever been brought by the Indian Parliament. We need a mass civil disobedience movement to oppose this legislation.”

Meanwhile, the international community is also watching the domestic debate on the CAB. 

Describing the initiative as a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction,”  a federal US commission on international religious freedom has sought US sanctions against Shah and other Indian leaders if the bill with the “religious criterion” is passed.

EU ambassador to India, Ugo Astuto, in a press conference in New Delhi on Monday said that he hopes: “The spirit of equality enshrined in the Indian constitution will be upheld by the Parliament.”