In a powerful display of unity and tolerance, top Polish leaders joined forces with members of the Jewish community to celebrate Hanukkah in the nation’s parliament. This significant event came as a direct response to a disturbing antisemitic incident earlier in the week, perpetrated by a far-right lawmaker.
The Incident That Shocked a Nation
The parliament halls of Poland witnessed a shocking act of antisemitism on Tuesday when Grzegorz Braun, a controversial far-right lawmaker, used a fire extinguisher to put out the burning candles on a menorah. This act not only caused disruption but also resulted in physical injury to a Jewish community member, who is still hospitalized. The incident drew widespread condemnation from all political spectrums and sent shockwaves throughout the country.
Unity in the Face of Hatred
In a symbolic gesture of solidarity, President Andrzej Duda and Speaker of Parliament Szymon Holownia, along with other top legislative officials, attended the Hanukkah celebration organized by Rabbi Shalom Ber Stambler. Their presence was a clear message against the intolerance and antisemitic behavior that had marred the parliament earlier. The eighth and last night of Hanukkah saw these leaders lighting the menorah candles, demonstrating the triumph of light over darkness.
A Strong Condemnation and Punishment
The parliament responded firmly to Braun’s actions. Speaker Holownia condemned the act as “absolutely scandalous,” resulting in Braun’s exclusion from the day’s session and subsequent financial penalties. This strong response was a clear indication that antisemitic and xenophobic behavior would not be tolerated in the Polish parliament.
The Dark History and Present Resolve
Poland’s history with its Jewish community is deep and often painful, with nearly 3.5 million Jews living there before the Holocaust. The Hanukkah celebration in the parliament, therefore, was not just a ceremonial event but a profound statement of Poland’s commitment to being a home for all religions and standing against hatred in all its forms.
Moving Forward Together
The incident and the subsequent unified response highlight the ongoing challenges and efforts in Poland to combat antisemitism and promote tolerance. The country’s leaders, alongside its citizens, are actively working to ensure that Poland is a nation where diversity is respected and protected.