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Polish priest sparks outrage after claiming ‘truth’ to Jews is ‘whatever serves their own interests’

Polish priest sparks outrage after claiming ‘truth’ to Jews is ‘whatever serves their own interests’
Poland’s Jewish association has accused a Catholic priest of spreading hate speech after he claimed on a TV show that Jews have their own perception of truth, which is often something that “serves Israel’s interests.”

Jewish people have “a completely different system of values, a different concept of truth,” Henryk Zielinski, a priest and editor-in-chief of Catholic magazine ‘Idziemy’ (‘We are going’) told broadcaster TVP during a show aired last Saturday. He proceeded to claim that truth was a very flexible notion for Jews.

Zielinski argued that “the truth corresponds to facts” for the Poles but, for Jews, “truth means something that confirms to [their] understanding of what’s beneficial.” If a Jew is religious, “then truth means something God wants,” the priest claimed. In secular Jews, “the truth is subjective or whatever serves Israel’s interests.”

In support of his claim, Zielinski claimed to have good knowledge of Jewish spiritual literature, citing the Haggadah, namely a text that describes the Biblical story of the Jewish exodus from ancient Egypt. “Often these stories have nothing to do with facts,” noted the Catholic priest.

The remarks have caused outrage among Poland’s Jewish diaspora. The Union of Jewish Communities in Poland have filed a complaint under laws that stipulate “broadcasts or other messages may not propagate illegal activities… they may not contain content that incites to hatred or discriminate on the grounds of race, disability, sex, religion or nationality.” 

It also lambasted TV host Michal Karnowski for not challenging Zielinski’s views. He is not the first Polish public figure to make an odd reference to Jewish people or the Holocaust, fueling the ongoing spat between Warsaw and Tel Aviv.

In mid-February, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told the 2018 Munich Security Conference that there were Polish perpetrators in the Holocaust, “as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian and German perpetrators.”

READ MORE: Polish Jews say PM’s Holocaust complicity comments ‘cross line of common sense’

The remarks have been criticized in Israel, whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused his Polish counterpart of an “inability to understand history.” Other politicians branded Morawiecki’s comments “anti-Semitism of the oldest kind.”

Relations between Poland and Israel began to sour after the eastern European state passed a law earlier in February that outlawed blaming Poles for their complicity in Holocaust crimes during the Second World War, and took particular notice of the words “Polish death camp.”