EJC Head Urges Polish Leaders To Address Restitution

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European Jewish Congress president holds high-level meetings with Polish president, foreign minister to discuss importance of struggle against racism, xenophobia.

A European Jewish Congress (EJC) delegation on Tuesday concluded a series of high-level discussions with Polish leaders in Warsaw. Led by EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor, the delegation met with President Lech Kaczyński and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski as well as with members of the local Jewish community.

Kantor also met with former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, with whom he co-chairs the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR), a non-governmental organization that seeks to promote tolerance and mutual respect throughout Europe.

“The Government of Poland has long been an important ally and partner of the State of Israel and of Jewish communities in Europe,“ Kantor said after the meetings. “We had friendly, constructive discussions about a host of issues that affect Jewish communities, but that are also of equal importance to general society both in Poland and throughout Europe: fighting xenophobia, racism and anti-Semitism, educating the next generation about the Holocaust, preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and fostering tolerance throughout Europe.”

Kantor added, “In Europe, it is clear that we are standing at an important crossroads of history. As Europeans, we therefore have a special opportunity and obligation to work together to build a tolerant community of nations, regardless of race or religion. ‘We look forward to continuing this important relationship and robust cooperation with the government of Poland.

‘Holocaust education critical’

On the issue of restitution of property which was confiscated during the Nazi and Communist eras, Dr. Kantor noted, “We certainly recognize the complexity of the issue of restitution, but to date, unfortunately we have not seen measures taken by previous Polish governments to deal with private property restitution.

“However, we are hopeful that this administration will take concrete measures that would enable the claimant and their heirs to fulfil their rights in the most just and efficient manner.”

Referring to discussions on Holocaust education and commemoration, Kantor noted that, “The importance of Holocaust commemoration is critical to confronting the shortage of historical memory, particularly in such difficult times with the world economic crisis, the continued rise of anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racism.”