Polish Soccer Association Celebrates Victory Over Israeli Team as a ‘Pogrom’

Relations between Poland and Israel have suffered since the introduction of a law in Poland last year making it illegal to blame the Polish nation for Nazi crimes

Poland's Robert Lewandowski celebrates after the match against Israel with teammates in Warsaw, Poland, June 10, 2019
Kacper Pempel / REUTERS

On its official Facebook page, the Polish soccer association described its team’s victory over Israel as a “pogrom.”

The loaded term, harking back to centuries of massacres perpetrated against Jews in Poland and throughout Europe, appeared Tuesday on the Facebook page of the Polish Football Association, or PZPN, at the end of a Euro Qualifiers game in which Poland walloped Israel 4:0.

“This is a pogrom! Winning over Israel 4:0!” the update at the end of the match read.

Poland's Robert Lewandowski, right, duels for the ball with Israel's Yonatan Cohen, left, at the Narodowy stadium in Warsaw, Poland, June 10, 2019
Czarek Sokolowski / AP

>> Read more: The Holocaust's evasive history in both Poland and Israel | Opinion

In English-language media, the word pogrom, which began appearing in Russian in the late 19th century, is closely associated with anti-Semitic violence.

However, in Poland and elsewhere, it is often used to describe also other forms of bloodshed, including the so-called Galician Slaughter, or uprising of 1846. In it, Polish peasants killed hundreds of non-Jewish noblemen.

That violent episode is characterized as a pogrom in the Polish Szkolnictwo learning portal, among other resources.

Relations between Poland and Israel have suffered since the introduction of a law in Poland last year making it illegal to blame the Polish nation for Nazi crimes. It triggered a crisis with Israel, which argued it limits research and free speech about the Holocaust.

The dispute has escalated to include acrimonious exchanges between the highest levels of leadership of both countries, including over restitution of property stolen from Polish Jews during and after the genocide.