Sunday, September 23, 2018 -
Print Edition

Poland doth protest too much

Poland is up in arms over an inaccurate statement President Obama made at a ceremony honoring a Polish hero of the Holocaust, Jan Karski, with the highest American civilian honor. Obama said:

“Jan served a a carrier for the Polish resistance during the darkest days of WW II. Before one trip across enemy lines, resistance fighters told him that Jews were being murdered on a massive scale and smuggled him into the Warsaw Ghetto and a Polish death camp to see for himself.”

So, yes indeed, to be historically accurate, President Obama should have said a Nazi death camp in Poland. Fine. Agreed. It is appalling for the president to have made this error.

However, for Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski to call the blunder “an outrageous mistake” and angrily demand an apology of Obama — now, that I just don’t get.

The technical mistake happened in context of honoring Poland and acknowledging the Polish resistance that existed during the war. Clearly, there were no bad intentions here, and not that the President’s error is inexcusable, especially about such a sensitive topic — but this was a case of sloppy writing. The ceremony was replete with abundant good will by America toward Poland.

I haven’t exactly been one to be defending the White House these last couple of years. But I am uncomfortable with the tone and attitude the Polish leadership has taken about this issue.

When reading a bit about Poland’s reaction to Obama’s statement, there is a clear feeling that Poland is viewing itself as an innocent victim within the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Let us not rewrite history or create a falsified sense of Polish history during WW II.

An outrageous mistake? Really?

The rest of this article is available in the IJN’s print edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at (303) 861-2234 or email carol@ijn.com.



Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park


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