Two demonstrations – one in support of Israel, the other in support of Palestine – were held in Warsaw on Sunday. The events took place separately and both passed peacefully.
The protest in support of Israel took place at the site of the wartime Jewish ghetto created by Nazi Germany, alongside the monument commemorating those who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 and the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
“We will defeat the Nazis of Hamas just as the world defeated Nazi Germany and ISIS,” tweeted Israel’s ambassador to Poland, Yacov Livne. “From the monument to the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, we promise: we have learned our lesson. Never again.”
At the centre of the demonstration was a table and 200 empty chairs, upon which were placed images, names and information about the hostages still being held by Hamas following its attack on Israel on 7 October.
במרכז ורשה הוצב היום שולחן ארוך עם יותר מ-200 כיסאות ריקים בדרישה להחזרת החטופים. בעצרת התמיכה הגדולה שנערכה אמרתי: „אנחנו במאבק של הציוויליזיה נגד הברבריות. אדישות וצביעות שרואים בכמה מקומות אינן מדיניות אלא פחדנות שתרדוף את הפחדן אל תוך ביתו שלו. אם ברצוננו לשרוד כציוויליזציה… pic.twitter.com/Y0uxN0qEc3
— Amb. Yacov Livne 🇮🇱 (@YacovLivne) October 29, 2023
As well as Livne, the demonstration was attended by the chief rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, and a number of Polish politicians, including the deputy speaker of the Senate, Michał Kamiński, and deputy culture minister Jarosław Sellin.
“Unfortunately, we are now certain that in addition to the tragic dates in the history of the Jewish nation, there is one more date – 7 October – that will be commemorated every year,” said Sellin, quoted by the Polish Press Agency (PAP). “One thousand four hundred people murdered because they were Jews.”
Marian Turski, a 97-year-old Polish-Jewish Auschwitz survivor, also spoke. “Since 7 October, the gate of tears is open, my memories of Auschwitz came alive,” he said, quoted by Gazeta Wyborcza. “We are here to let Israel know that it will not be alone.”
I stand with 🇮🇱. Nigdy więcej państwo polskie nie będzie finansowało i karmiło nacjonalistów i antysemitów! Nie będziemy obojętni! pic.twitter.com/ACjS8h3SBG
— Michał Szczerba (@MichalSzczerba) October 29, 2023
Meanwhile, yesterday a march in support of Palestine also passed through the streets of Warsaw, as did one last weekend. The previous event aroused controversy after the appearance of posters and banners that were condemned as antisemitic by Livne.
This time, the city’s mayor, Rafał Trzaskowski, warned ahead of the march that such material – which he described as “antisemitic and inciting hatred” – would not be tolerated.
“Warsaw has seen enough hateful slogans in its history and what they can lead to,” wrote Trzaskowski on X. “Therefore, if the law is violated, we will respond.”
Israel’s ambassador to Poland has condemned „blatant antisemitism” at a pro-Palestine march in Warsaw today.
One participant was seen holding a placard saying „Keep the world clean” alongside an image of the Israeli flag being thrown in the bin https://t.co/rktIPdXGY4
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 21, 2023
Several hundred people took part in the pro-Palestine march, reports the Gazeta Wyborcza daily. Some carried banners saying “Opposition to genocide is not antisemitism” and “Solidarity with the Palestinian resistance”.
Among those who spoke was Maciej Konieczny, an MP from The Left (Lewica), a group that is part of the opposition coalition preparing to form a new government following parliamentary elections earlier this month.
“The ongoing massacre [in Gaza] is an unjustifiable crime,” he said, quoted by Gazeta Wyborcza. “No one has the right to do what Israel is doing now.”
— Bartosz Grucela | lista Lewicy, pozycja 2 okręg 35 (@BGrucela) October 29, 2023
The party to which Konieczny belongs – Razem (Together), which is part of The Left – released a statement on Saturday that condemned Hamas’s “terrorist attack” on Israel but argued that this did not justify the ongoing “Israeli attacks on the Palestinian civilian population”.
A number of demonstrations in support of Israel and Palestine have taken place in Poland this month, with some drawing hundreds of participants. On Saturday, the latest pro-Palestinian march took place in Kraków, Poland’s second-largest city.
Another large pro-Palestinian march was held in Kraków, Poland yesterday, with protesters holding banners saying „End the Palestine Holocaust” and „No consent for genocide”.
See our report on an earlier march two weeks ago here: https://t.co/AZ7QdY2nAN pic.twitter.com/XtbUc3TVoS
— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 29, 2023
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Main image credit: YacovLivne/X
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, EUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.