'Poland failed but Israel overreacted, relations are at the lowest point ever'

From The Depths founder Jonny Daniels reacts to Polish law restricting claims on Jewish property.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Jonny Daniels
Jonny Daniels
Arutz Sheva

Jonny Daniels, chairman of the From The Depths organization, spoke to Arutz Sheva following the Polish government’s approval of the law restricting claims on Jewish property looted from Polish Jewry during the Holocaust.

“Basically the law, from the side of the Poles, comes to sort out what was viewed as the problems with the issues connected to restitution in Poland,” he explained.

“Restitution for us means, obviously, properties of Jews lost during the war, but for the Poles it also means something. I think that at this point, maybe we’re not understanding the significance of the Polish side as well.”

“The story of restitution in massive in Poland, it’s not just a Jewish issue,” continued Daniels, “but in the last 30 years there has been a big mess in terms of what was actually going on in terms of restitution – many fraudulent cases, mainly involving Poles and unfortunately a few involving Israelis – and these cases really brought a situation in which the Polish government felt that something had to be done.”

He pointed out that the bill was not just pushed by the right-wing Polish government but is a bill that “was pushed forward by everybody and I think that perhaps there was a lack of understanding [on the part of Israel], and had we been in a position of better relations between our two countries, maybe the mess that we’re in today would’ve had a chance to be better understood and dealt with”.

Asked about Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s comments that the Polish law is “anti-Semitic” and “immoral”, Daniels said, “It’s not that bad. Anti-Semitism isn’t a new thing. Anti-Semitism is something that we’ve experienced for many years and we’re going to experience it in the future as well.”

He pointed out again that the law was signed by the entire Polish parliament and “you can’t call a single parliamentarian in Poland an anti-Semite. It’s ridiculous. It doesn’t work like that. When there’s a lack of understanding and dialogue, and there’s been no real relations with the country for probably three years now, to come and call a bill anti-Semitic is not the best idea and doesn’t help us in the long run. Simple as that.”

Daniels clarified that “the Israeli government clearly is not to blame for what’s happened here. The Polish side really should have a better job at attempting to explain themselves and Israel reacted in the way that they did, perhaps too emotionally and perhaps with a lack of dialogue, but the Poles also didn’t need to push this in the way they did either.”

“I think truly what we have here is a situation in which two sides had to have just sat down and attempted to speak about this. The onus was on the Polish side to push this forward. They failed in doing so, and it’s led us to the position in which we are today, where the relations are at the lowest point I think we’ve ever seen.”



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