Perspectives on Poland: Freeze the Racists Out of Euro 2012

The England team are due to visit the former Nazi Auschwitz–Birkenau extermination camps today. Also on their schedule is a trip to the Schindler Factory in Krakow – the inspiration for Spielberg’s blockbuster Schindler’s List.

It is vitally important that high-profile figures continue to visit these sites – they must remain present in our minds and be introduced to the younger generation – but I suggest that efforts should also be made to drag the international media to the places in Poland where Jewish life is thriving again.

There is a prime example just minutes from England’s base in Krakow’s Old Town. Established in 2008, the Jewish Community Centre has become the beating heart of a resurgence of Jewish life in the city.

Following the alarmist and overstated allegations of anti-Semitism in Poland made by the BBC documentary Stadiums of Hate, a chat with the director and community at the JCC would go a long way to setting the record straight.

The Krakow Post has spoken to JCC director Jonathan Ornstein several times in the past four years, and on each occasion his message has been that Krakow’s Jewish community feels safe and accepted.

I’m sure the JCC would be happy to receive guests. Its doors are always open to locals and visitors of all faiths, many of whom pop in for its social events or to take classes ranging from belly dancing to Hebrew.

Mr Ornstein is more than willing to talk to the media, surprisingly perhaps given his poor treatment at the hands of the BBC. In a statement to the Economist, he said:

“As an American-born Jew living happily and safely in Poland and working diligently to build Jewish life in that country, I am furious at the way the BBC has exploited me as a source. The organization used me and others to manipulate the serious subject of anti-Semitism for its own sensationalist agenda; in doing so, the BBC has insulted all Polish people and done a disservice to the growing, thriving Jewish community of Poland.”

Mr Ornstein also points out that the media would do well to talk to the two Israelis footballers who played for local team Wisła Krakow last season – hardly a choice of club that might be expected if Poland was really the cauldron of anti-Semitic hate it has been portrayed as.

There are racists in Poland, but they are a minority. The ears of every journalist and the eyes of every cameraman here to cover the Euros are straining for the evidence. And when, inevitably, some group of Cro-Magnons obliges them, they will go straight on the front page.

Of course this problem should be discussed, but, ladies and gentlemen of the press, let’s not hand the morons such an easy victory by inviting them to perform. To do so would be a serious disservice to our hosts, the Polish people.

Photo: David McGirr

8 thoughts on “Perspectives on Poland: Freeze the Racists Out of Euro 2012

  • June 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Thx god there is at least one sane expat in Krakow…Mr Ornstein. What a calming contrast compared to the histerical BBC-rits.

  • June 10, 2012 at 2:17 am

    So a bunch of typical Russian football fans set upon a Polish game warden at the Czech v Russia game in Wroclaw, and the British media call it “Violence in Poland”. How about Russian racists attack Polish workers? The British media have done a great job with the Russian football fans in trying to undermine this football tournament. I expected as much from the Russian fascists, but am a little surpised by the stance taken by British media and depending on which papers I read the majority or large minority of the British public.


  • June 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Look how many Brits work for Putin’s RT channel…

    nuff said.

    • June 11, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      Not sure what reaction you were hoping for by posting this, but I found it hilarious.

      • June 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm

        Playing same game as Murdoch’s tabloid’s empire and i know it is hilarious same as British publications about Poland don’t take it personally I have English friends I blame conservative gov. which played anti-polish game to get in power it is upsetting to do such a things to get attention this is part of statement made by Federation of Poles in GB :
        “We maintain that Poles have felt humiliated by the coverage and are vulnerable to numerous acts of overt hostility and even violence which they have experienced from a vociferous minority of UK citizens. There have been hundreds of cases of hate crime against Poles in this country recorded in the last 2 years, some leading to death or permanent injury, and we would not want these incidents to be encouraged by potentially inflammatory newspaper stories or headlines.”
        I know polish officials were trying to do something with this problem but they are powerless in the bid with British media corporations we have to fight with it though same as with “polish death camps”. That’s example of what I’m talking about
        We have full right to fight with it same as black people have a right to fight for theirs rights and respect and it is also fight for corruption and “sensation-looking-for” media.

      • June 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm

        I’m pretty sure you r not an object of jokes and discrimination in Poland and I’m gland and happy for you it is nice to see Poland turning cosmopolitan country again as it was before wars my fight is not to abuse anyone it is only fight for respect, true if it abuse u in anyway my apology it wasnt my target

  • June 20, 2012 at 5:04 am

    Why would polish ppl be racist ? Very few jews, no Blacks Expt for some internatinal students, no
    muslims or other forgein religion . Where did all this hate come from ???


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