Poland Monthly Digest: EP Elections Ahead, and Poland and Israel Take a Nosedive3 min read
– Poland-Israel relations have been in peril since February when, at a summit in Warsaw, Israel’s acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz said that Poles “sucked anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk” (more on that in the March edition of What’s up Poland?) On May 8th, President Trump signed into law a bill designed to gather information on restitution for Holocaust victims. The bill has faced some opposition in Polish Parliament, and by mainly right-wing civil activists. On May 11th, Polish right-wing groups marched in Warsaw in opposition to the bill. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said “We will not allow any damages to be paid to anyone because it is us who should get damages”. (More on this from Deutsche Welle.) On May 13th, an Israeli citizen in Tel-Aviv spat on Polish Ambassador to Israel Marek Magierowski. Israeli police are investigating what PM Morawiecki has called a racist attack, and a suspect is now under house arrest.
– On May 14th, Polish activist Elżbieta Podleśna was detained by police after demonstrating her support for the LGBTQ community by publically displaying a poster featuring a rainbow halo over the Virgin Mary. The image she used is a well-known portrait of the Virgin Mary in Poland. Podleśna was released after several hours of questioning by the police. According to Amnesty International, she is now facing charges of defamation of religious feelings, punishable by up to two years in prison.
– Polish activist and politician Robert Biedroń and his Spring Party have received support from Frans Timmermans, the Party of European Socialists frontrunner for the European Commission presidency. On the 21st of May, Timmermans and Biedroń promoted the Spring Party in Warsaw and encouraged people to go out and vote in Sunday’s European Parliament elections. Timmermans is looking for an ally to back him up in the European Parliament for the EC president position. According to the latest polls, Biedroń’s Spring is expected to get a footing in the European Parliament.
To learn more about the Party of European Socialists, check out our handy guide to the parties in this year’s Euro-elections.
– EP elections in Poland thus far have been dominated by questions of sex, morality and religion, triggered by the LGBT Plus Declaration signed by the Mayor of Warsaw back in March, a sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and a new documentary film released May 11th on YouTube. “Tell no one” tells the stories of several people who have been sexually assaulted in childhood by Catholic priests. The movie is available with English subtitles here.
To learn more about the issues facing Poland and Central Europe in this year’s elections, check out our resource on the regions.
– On May 15th, archbishop Stanisław Gądecki published a video in response to the documentary in which he apologizes to all the victims. So far, over 21 million people have watched the video on YouTube.
Main Sources: Amnesty International (ENG); BBC (ENG); Deutsche Welle (ENG); Reuters (ENG); The Guardian (ENG); Tok.FM (PL); YouTube