A leading Polish professor has basically blamed the Holocaust on the Jews, telling a Polish monthly that "the dimensions of the German crimes were only possible due to the active cooperation of the Jews in the process of the slaughter of their people."
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The remarks by Prof. Krzysztof Jasiewicz, in an interview with the April edition of the magazine Focus-Historia marking 70 years since the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, have raised a storm among Poles and generated furious responses in most of the Polish media. The Jewish community of Warsaw also issued a scathing denunciation of his remarks.
Jasiewicz, of the Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences, said he has no intention of debating these issues, since "it's a waste of the time we would devote to a dialogue with the Jews, whose sense of superiority and confidence that they are the chosen people are leading them to oblivion."
Jasiewicz described fellow historians who disagreed with him as "intellectually handicapped," and declared that when it comes to science, one must detach oneself from sympathetic feelings and focus on facts, and on the right to interpret them.
In the article, Jasiewicz applies his interpretative skills to cast new light on the 1941 pogrom in the village of Jedwabne, in which hundreds of local Jews were rounded up into a barn that was set on fire, burning those inside to death. The learned professor explained that "the residents didn't do this out of racist hatred or a desire to pillage, but out of a true and very human and justified fear of the power of the Jewish population."
Jasiewicz in the article also issued veiled criticism of the Catholic Church for offering aid to persecuted Jews by allowing them to convert and giving them papers attesting to this "without checking the true intentions of those seeking baptism."
In practically the same breath, he mentioned "the Israelis who murder their neighbors in the Middle East and no one says anything."
The editor-in-chief of Focus, Michael Wojcik, later apologized to his readers, saying that the intent of the article was to "raise the awareness of the scientific community to the anti-Semitism of one of the important members of the Academy of Sciences."
The academy did not issue any formal response, making do with the remark of its chairman that "it's possible that the wintry weather had a bad effect on our learned colleague." The Catholic Church did not respond to Jasiewicz's remarks, either.
The Open State association wrote to the academy's board, expressing concern not only that someone with such anti-Semitic views works for one of the country's most prestigious institutions, but that in his contact with young researchers he might be conveying his anti-Semitic views.
In Italy, meanwhile, an anti-Semitic incident in the Caravillani School of the Arts, a Rome high school, has received wide publicity in recent days, although it happened in October. A Jewish student in the school with a migraine headache who was having trouble concentrating in math class was reprimanded by the teacher, who said, "If you were in Auschwitz, you would probably be paying more attention."
The girl, named Yael, burst into tears, while several of her classmates protested the teacher's remarks, accusing her of racism. Three of them refused to continue taking her class.
The incident was first revealed last week by an Italian Jewish website, romaebraica.it. Subsequently, Italian Education Minister Francesco Profumo demanded that the school submit to him a detailed report of the incident.