The relationship between Israel and Poland is in danger, according to Israel’s Ambassador to Poland, David Peleg.
Peleg expressed concern for the good relations between the two countries, following the publication of an article in the Polish-language
Przekroj weekly, which accused Israeli teens of damaging hotel rooms and traumatizing locals during visits to Poland.
About 25,000 Israeli teens visit Poland each year. Accompanied by Shin Bet security guards, the teens visit concentration camps, and learn about the Holocaust. Recently, there has been an increase in the amount of reports in the Polish press concerning the unruly behavior of the these visitors.
The article published in Przekroj, titled “Young Israeli’s run amok in Poland”, describes incidents of Israeli teens playing football in the hotel hallway at 2 am, burning carpets, breaking furniture, and leaving a mess in their beds and sinks.
Other teens were accused of hiring a stripper, and still others were said to have humiliated flight attendants while flying with the Polish Lot Airlines.
The article also criticized Shin Bet guards, and featured quotes by locals claiming that the guards beat them and forced them to undergo humiliating security checks.
Polish sources involved in the planning of the trips told the Polish weekly that the itineraries only included visits to concentration camps. “From that perspective, Poland looks like one big Jewish cemetery, nothing more,” said Ilona Dworak-Cousin, chairman of the Israel Poland Friendship Association.
“The Israeli youth sees Poles as second-class humans, and treat them as potential enemies”, said Professor Moshe Zimmerman of the Hebrew University’s History Department.
Peleg said that such articles portrayed Israel’s youth in a negative light, and endangered the future of such trips.
Education Ministry Director-General Shmuel Abuav questioned the credibility of the article, and said that the incidents it described would be investigated if proven true.