Photo: EPA
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki
Photo: EPA

Poland demands reaction over 'racist' assault of ambassador to Israel

Prime Minister Morawiecki expresses shock over 'xenophobic act of aggression' - amid row over Holocaust restitution - while Polish FM summons Israeli ambassador over incident; perpetrator issues apology

Poland's prime minister on Wednesday condemned what he described as a "xenophobic" and "racist" attack on the country's ambassador to Israel on a Tel Aviv street.



Israeli officials expressed shock at the attack and said they were investigating the assault on Marek Magierowski on Tuesday.


The incident comes amid a bitter standoff between Poland and Israel over how to remember the Holocaust and over demands that Poland pay reparations for former Jewish properties that were seized by Nazi Germany and later nationalized by Poland's communist regime.


Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (Photo: EPA)
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki (Photo: EPA)


Israeli Ambassador Anna Azari was summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry in Warsaw on Wednesday over the assault. Michal Dworczyk, the head of Morawiecki's office, said the Polish government expects the perpetrator to be punished.


Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki expressed his concern at the attack.


"Poland strongly condemns this xenophobic act of aggression. Violence against diplomats or any other citizens should never be tolerated," Morawiecki said.


Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, said the assault was being investigated and that "we will update our Polish friends" on what is found.


"Israel expresses its full sympathy with the Polish ambassador and shock at the attack," Nahshon said. "This is a top priority to us, as we are fully committed to diplomats' safety and security."


Marek Magierowski
Marek Magierowski


Eric Lederman, 65, of Herzliya was arrested in connection with the incident. According to the police, Lederman was walking in the street when the ambassador's vehicle honked at him to get out of the street, which he did not take kindly to. The suspect then approached the car and hit its roof. When the ambassador began filming with his phone, the suspect opened the car door and spat in his face amid shouts. The officer added that the suspect probably did not know that the man he was assaulting was the ambassador himself.


Lederman's lawyer said that he was at the embassy in order to inquire about regaining lost property but was not allowed inside and the guard called him a derogatory name. he further explained that because the sidewalk outside the embassy was so narrow, his client was forced to walk in the street and that he spat on the ground and not at the ambassador.


The lawyer described Lederman as an architect and family man. "When a car honks at you in the street, it arouses emotions… the incident was filmed and there is nothing to add," he said.


Lederman was released to house arrest by the court and ordered not to approach the embassy area. He is expected to issue an apology later today and request a meeting with the ambassador to put the incident to rest.


According to the Polish Embassy, Lederman was inquiring about "Polish anti-Semitism" and said that he did not understand the English spoken to him by the guard.


Ties between the two countries became strained in January 2018 when Poland passed a law that criminalized blaming the Polish nation for the crimes of Nazi Germany during World War II. Poland's conservative nationalist government described it as an effort to end linguistic formulations such as "Polish death camps" to refer to the death camps that Germans operated on occupied Polish territory during the war.


However, many people in Israel felt it was an attempt by the Polish government to repress debate and scholarship looking at the cases of those Poles who helped the Nazis in killing Jews during the occupation.


The law was softened but tensions have continued to simmer, with tensions coming to the surface from time to time.


Earlier this week the Polish government canceled a visit by an Israeli delegation, saying the Israeli government made last-minute changes that suggested it would focus on the issue of the restitution of former Jewish property. The Polish government insists that the matter is closed and that because it lost so much in the war it will pay nothing.


פרסום ראשון: 05.15.19, 13:20
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