Ronald S. Lauder praises Polish leaders for taking strong stand against anti-Semitic priest

Following another diatribe made by the Redemptorist Polish priest Tadeusz Rydzyk, the president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), Ronald S. Lauder, has welcomed the “strong condemnation and decisive action” by Polish leaders, including Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek, against the head of an influential media concern which includes Radio Maryja and a TV station. During a seminar at the European Parliament in Brussels last week Rydzyk claimed that Poland was “a totalitarian state” that “hasn't been ruled by Poles since 1939," an indirect suggestion that Jews are in charge of the government. The government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk has written a letter of complaint to the Vatican, accusing the ultra-conservative priest of "harming the image of Poland abroad.” Buzek - a former prime minister of Poland - called Rydzyk's remarks "scandalous and unacceptable."

The priest spoke during a seminar on renewable energy last Tuesday. His remarks went largely unnoticed but have since sparked days of debate in Poland. Rydzyk reportedly told his audience that those who ruled Poland today "do not love in a Polish way, do not have a Polish heart". Anti-Semites have previously claimed that Polish Jews are not "real Poles" with Polish interests at heart. In the past, Rydzyk repeatedly made headlines with remarks about Jews. In 2007, he was recorded on tape calling then Polish President Lech Kaczynski a "swindler" who had bowed to pressure from the Jewish lobby to compensate people for property lost during and after World War II.

Lauder said: “Fr. Rydzyk is a notorious anti-Semite. It is not the Jewish people that are the enemies of Poland, but people like him who sow dissent with their odious remarks. We call on the Vatican to immediately expel him from the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and to publicly distance itself from him. Rydzyk and his radio station have a long track record of inciting people to hate Jews and others. All party leaders in Poland should draw a clear line in the sand and distance themselves from him, as PM Tusk has done.

“We are heartened by the fact that the government has pledged to take action against Rydzyk. Poland has been a liberal democracy for over 20 years, and any suggestion that Jews or others are secretly in charge of the government there is simply preposterous,” the WJC president added.

Lauder, who also serves as chairman of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, expressed hope that controversial issues such as Holocaust-era private property restitution “will soon be resolved through dialogue and negotiations.” He pointed out: “If we manage to do this in a dignified and equitable way, hatemongers such as Rydzyk will be marginalized, and Polish-Jewish relations will further improve, to the benefit of everyone.”

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