Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Ziophobic article becomes a great piece about Israel-Polish relations

You know the old joke, first told about Nazis and now about Arabs:
A story is told of a Jewish man who was riding on the subway reading an Arab newspaper. A friend of his, who happened to be riding in the same subway car, noticed this strange phenomenon. Very upset, he approached the newspaper reader. "Moshe, have you lost your mind? Why are you reading an Arab newspaper?"Moshe replied, "I used to read the Jewish newspaper, but what did I find? Jews being persecuted, Israel being attacked, Jews disappearing through assimilation and intermarriage, Jews living in poverty. So I switched to the Arab newspaper. Now what do I find? Jews own all the banks, Jews control the media, Jews are all rich and powerful, Jews rule the world. The news is so much better!"
As a public service, I will now publish an article by Israel-hater Ewa Jasiewicz in the rabidly anti-Zionist rag The Electronic Intifada. Once you cut out Jasiewicz's dripping, psychotic hate, which I have, it is a really great article: (I did very little editing - I just deleted the many anti-Israel phrases and sentences.)

"There is no more reliable and loyal adherent of your stance and aspiration for a better and a fairer world order in the European Union than Poland."
- Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, 9 April 2008
"We cannot pretend that Iran's behavior is normal and that a terrorist is a freedom fighter. You have a real friend in Europe and it is important that both countries will strengthen each other's image."
- Prime Minister Tusk at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 23 February 2011
"The Jewish people are an indelible part of Polish history, and Poland is an indelible part of Jewish history ... Our deep bilateral cooperation is based on common values and a shared history, as well as on the aspiration to a common future in which we want to achieve the same goals."
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Tusk, 23 February 2011

Last month witnessed the launch of the first Polish-Israeli governmental forum held in Jerusalem. The biannual dialogue accelerates an existing partnership between the two countries which includes trade agreements, joint military training exercises and arms deals under an ongoing "Polonization of Israeli Technology" drive.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk's 55-strong delegation included the ministers of education, health, foreign affairs and defense, as well as senior intelligence, culture, environment and finance ministry representatives. All met their counterparts in the Israeli government.

Both states signed deals for the Israeli military to train Polish special forces as well as pilots of Poland's fleet of 48 Lockheed Martin F-16 war planes. Further agreements included developing joint water and sustainable energy resource management projects; ongoing cultural cooperation with Polish "Year in Israel" events; research and development in health and medicine; Polish lobbying for an upgrade of relations between the EU and Israel; a deal on sharing access to national libraries; and initiatives to be taken between 2011 to 2013 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of the Holocaust in Poland.

Poland is Israel's freshest market in Europe and one of its most lucrative. Israeli companies have found a green zone in the Eastern European country.

The firm ASBUD, for example, listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, is majority-owned by Ashtrom, Shikun and Binui Group and STR Development & Construction Group. While having built housing complexes in the neighborhoods of Konstancin, Tarchomin and Piaseczno in Warsaw, Ashtrom also supplies construction materials for the Israeli Ministry of Defense and is building housing units in Nof Zion, Jerusalem.

Egged, Israel's oldest and largest bus company, bought Poland's Mobilis in 2006. In Poland, Egged's operations cover urban bus routes in Warsaw, Krakow and Bydgoszcz as well as suburban services, totaling some 240 buses.

Israeli water company Eden Springs Ltd. is the second-largest distributor of bottled water in Poland.

Last December, the Polish Ministry of Defense signed a $16 million deal with Israel's Elbit Systems to provide multi-sensor monitoring and surveillance systems for the Polish army.

In Jerusalem last month Netanyahu gave his Polish counterpart a gift -- a reproduction of an 1850 painting by British artist William Henry Bartlett. He told Tusk: "It's a depiction of Jerusalem, the heart of the Jewish people. It is an expression of our longing to restore our ancient land and to restore our life as a sovereign people in our ancestral homeland. This is precisely Poland's aspirations over the years, so I give this to you as a symbol of friendship and as a symbol of our hopes for a common future of peace and prosperity and security."

Former foreign minister and honorary Israeli citizen Wladyslaw Bartoszewski recently told journalists "All political forces in our country are friendly toward Israel ... Name any other country in Europe where over the past two decades three heads of diplomacy ... were of Jewish descent, one has an honorary citizenship of Israel, and the current one's wife is Jewish"

He was referring to former foreign ministers Stefan Meller, Adam Daniel Rotfeld and Bronislaw Geremek. Current Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski's wife is Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Washington Post columnist.

Szewach Weiss, a former Israeli ambassador to Poland and now a lecturer based in Poland, wrote in Poland's second biggest daily Rzeczpospolita: "Why are Polish-Jewish relations so special? The answer is simple. If you share the same land for 800 years, it cultivates a special bond that even a long separation is unable to break."

Speaking of the first Israeli parliament he comments: "Almost all the ministers of Israel [were of Polish descent] and were well aware of the language. Even today, Polish visitors walking the boulevards of Tel Aviv will hear the Polish language. Elderly ladies spend evenings playing cards in the terraces, gossiping in Polish. Just as they used to in Warsaw, Bialystok, Lvov and Vilnius"

Poland, which takes up the rotating presidency of the EU in July, has been one of the staunchest defenders of Israel within Europe.

In 2005, a year after Poland joined the European Union, the state co-instigated a campaign by members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to have Hizballah included on the EU terrorist list. When Israel was facing accusations of war crimes in Lebanon, then Polish Prime Minister Lech Kaczynski was the first European leader to visit Israel, his handshakes and embrace of Ehud Olmert intended to signify Poland's unshakeable support.

In August 2007 Polish MEPs supported Israel's assertion that a conference was "anti-Israel" and boycotted the event. MEP Bronislaw Geremek argued that the conference was biased and called for the EU to stop being so "completely pro-Palestinian." Konrad Szymanski accused the conference organizers, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, of providing "a platform for activity of various extremists," while Boguslaw Sonik, another Polish MEP, said, "This is not the first such initiative. [The] Pro-Palestinian lobby is very active here. If in fact, the conference will become propagandist, Israelis can count on the Poles."

Poland voted against the UN General Assembly Resolution on the Goldstone report on war crimes committed during Israel's attack on Gaza, and along with five other European countries, refused to participate in the Durban II conference (the 2009 Durban Review Conference or the United Nations World Conference Against Racism) or ratify its resolutions.

In 2008 the Polish Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs embarked on a campaign of cultural cooperation, spearheaded by the "Poland in Israel Year" of initiatives timed to coincide with the sixtieth anniversary of Israel's declaration. Organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute -- funded by the Ministry of Culture -- the Year involved, according to its website, 110 cultural events "including film showings, operas, theatre festivals, seminars and conferences," and "aimed to strengthen cultural, economic, scientific and tourism-related contacts, as well as to initiate a long-term cooperation between institutions of the two countries." The Polish government also sponsored the twinning of twenty Israeli and Polish towns and cities over the years 2008 to 2009, building on 15 already twinned. Only two Polish towns -- Poznan and Czestochowa -- are twinned with a Palestinian towns - Nablus and Bethlehem respectively.

The Polish Year in Israel merged Polish Jewish heritage and cultural identity with Israeli identity and the political and economic interests of the Polish with those of their Israeli counterparts. In a 2008 piece written about the initiative for the economic portal Polish Market, titled "Special Relations," then Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said "There is something special about relations between Poland and Israel. Even though the two countries lie on different continents, and in spite of their very different geopolitical circumstances, any Pole visiting Israel, and indeed many Israelis visiting Poland, are instantly struck by how much at home they feel in the respective countries."

Last month in Jerusalem, the foreign minister took the Zionist-Polish mutuality narrative further. Referring to Poland and Israel, he said "Both nations have lost their independence in the past, and we know what a painful experience that is ... In Poland, the term 'solidarity' has great significance. We identify profoundly with your pain, as we too have lived in condition of occupation, of loss of statehood and under the threat of cultural and physical annihilation. So we know how precious it is to have your own state to express your interests."

And the "love-in" continues with Haaretz English Edition Editor Adar Primor's waxing lyrical on "a love story -- the surprising, against-all-odds love affair between Poland and Israel" during the state visit last month.
See what great stuff you can sometimes learn from those who hate Israel the most?