Newsletter May 2019

Newsletter in English

May 2019

 La version française se trouve ici

Dariusz Stola has won the contest for Director of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

We are absolutely delighted that Professor Dariusz Stola has been elected as the Director of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

“In accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the City of Warsaw, and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland, the Search Committee for POLIN Museum director has voted for Professor Dariusz Stola as the best candidate for the position.”
Stola has been the head of the Museum since 2014, and his outstanding work celebrating Polish-Jewish history and the relationship between Poland and Israel has inspired continuous admiration.
His unambiguous commitment to historical truth was not always appreciated by authorities (in particular in the context of the exhibition concerning March 1968, sponsored by the European Association of of POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews – AEMJP), and prevented the automatic renewal of his contract. Yet, as the best possible candidate, Prof. Stola won an open contest organized after the end of his first mandate and is now again the head of our Museum.
Many international Friends of the POLIN Museum and of our Association expressed their support for Prof. Stola, and we would like to thank them for this.
To know more about the context of this re-election, click here.

Discussions about property restitution in Poland

Poland has witnessed a series of anti-Semitic occurrences, currently interpreted as a consequence of discussion over the 447 “Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today” (JUST) Act, voted by the American Congress in 2017. The intention of the act is to “the return to the rightful owner of any property, including religious or communal property that was wrongfully seized or transferred”.
De facto, Poland never considered the restitutions as it sees itself as one of the main victims of the Second World War. Moreover, the restitution laws in Poland are in general rather messy, given the massive nationalization of the property of victims following the War. In May 2019, several ultra-nationalist and openly anti-Jewish demonstrations took place in Polish streets (AFP).
An Israeli delegation was initially invited to discuss the possible restitutions (Haaretz), , but this meeting was eventually cancelled by the Poles on May 13 (Gazeta), after Mateusz Morawiecki, the Prime Minister, declared that Poland was the main victim of the Second World War, and as such will not pay for its consequences..
Still as a reaction to the 447 Act, the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament was meant to discuss and vote on a law, proposed by a young, right-wing party (Kukiz’15), taking legal measures against the American bill. Yet on the very day of the vote, May 15, the law disappeared (probably temporarily) from the parliamentary agenda.
In Tel Aviv, in the context of these tensions, Poland’s ambassador to Israel (M. Magierowski) was spat upon while in his car. In a statement issued to reporters, the suspect – who came to Embassy to learn about the lost property of his family – said his family had been through the Nazi Holocaust and that a Polish embassy employee had used an anti-Semitic slur against him while he was there (Reuters). The slur reported by the press, “Zyd”, is indeed offensive in Russian, but not in Polish – thus the whole episode might have been based on a misunderstanding.

Polish Christians and Jews oppose the hateful discourses

On May 15, The Polish Council of Christians and Jews issued a statement calling for the end of political exploitation of the problem of restitutions, as it ignites the useless conflicts:
“In recent weeks, tensions have intensified in Poland that arouse our deep concern. In public life – and not on its margins – severe statements have attacked the Jews. The most horrifying came from the sermon of Bishop Andrzej Jeż, who quoted 100-year old accusations that the Jews ‘have a plan to combat the Church’, which would explain why the Church currently faces a number of difficulties. […] This raises the understandable fears of the Jews, as well as all those who refuse to let social life build on hatred. […]
As Polish Christians and Jews, we believe in a community that emerges from shared biblical roots and from living together in our country. We ask politicians, clerics, journalists and those who shape public opinion, to oppose this poisoning of the atmosphere, the promotion of hate […]. If the tensions and bad emotions continue to grow, unpredictable consequences might follow.”

Meantime at POLIN Museum…

In King Matt’s Poland

Till July 1, 2019, the exhibition “In King Matt’s Poland: The 100th Anniversary of Regaining Independence” welcomes both adults and children.
Inspired by a children’s novel by Polish-Jewish author and pedagogue Janusz Korczak, the exhibition which tells the story of a young king’s adventures, is a pretext to describe social reforms, and is a veiled allegory of Polish history.

POLIN Museum Film Call

There are over 9 million descendants of Polish Jews in the world. What is their connection to the land of their forefathers? The POLIN Museum is calling for proposals for short films that explore this question in creative ways.
The fourteen short films completed on the basis of these proposals will be featured in the epilogue to POLIN Museum’s multimedia narrative exhibition, which is dedicated to the thousand-year history of Polish Jews.

Call for papers: Jews in Leftist Movements in 19th and 20th Century Poland

Conference at POLIN Museum
1-2 December 2019
Deadline for proposals: May 30, 2019
The aim of the conference is to outline the actual involvement of Jews and activists of Jewish origin in the leftist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries from the perspective of individual motivations, ideological choices and personal biographies.
More on the website.

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