By August Grabski
At 3pm on Saturday 22 July around 100 picketed the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw. Called by “Stop the War” (a front organisation of the Workers Democracy, the Polish branch of the British SWP), The aim of the picket was to protest against the Israeli aggression on Lebanon, support for the Palestinian cause and protest against the Polish troops in Iraq. Among the picketers were Warsaw leftists but also Polish refugees from Lebanon and Lebanese and Palestinian people.
The Israeli aggression has caught attention of Polish public opinion not only because of the atrocities committed by Israeli aircraft but also because of the fate of many Polish–Lebanese marriages (mainly between Lebanese men studying in Poland and Polish women). The Polish Embassy in Beirut organised the exodus of over 300 of Polish passports holders. Many Polish women had to leave their husbands (no had no Polish passport) in order to save their children. To counterbalance this picture the Polish TV (a private channel — TVN) showed material on Polish Jews in Northern Israel (including the Kibbutz of Warsaw Ghetto Fighters).
Among the leftists participating in the demo there were the New Left, the Workers Democracy, the Red Collective (the anarcho-syndicalists). A few speeches were delivered.
A Polish mother, who had escaped from Lebanon with her children talked about the tragedy of civilians in Lebanon, the main victim of this war. Majority of the dead and injured had nothing common with the Hezbollah. In her opinion the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw should take care of all refugees from Lebanon, and bring them to Poland. She declared she rejected anti-semitism. She mentioned that she is a granddaughter of Righteous Among Nations
Piotr Ikonowicz (New Left) said that before 1989 the US were committing mass crimes and supporting many dictatorships (e.g. in Latin America) justifying it by the threat of communism. After the fall of the Soviet Union the US continued its imperialistic policy disguised as a crusade against the real and imagined terrorists. Ikonowicz recalled the sad fate of Guantanamo prisoners who are deprived of POWs rights. The ex-MP said he hoped Iran has an atom bomb because only in this way Iran would avoid the US aggression. (Of course to wish for an atom bomb for any Islamic fundamentalists is to put it mildly a big exaggeration).
Omar Faris – a president of the Polish-Arabic Socio-Cultural Association, a Palestinian living from many years in Poland, earlier linked to the PLFP, described (in an inadequate way) the human tragedy of Palestinians as the next Holocaust, which is being watched by a silent and passive world. But he added that the state of Israel will never break the will of resistance of the Palestinian nation.
Andy Zebrowski, a leader of the Workers Democracy, said that there is a big disproportion of force between Israelis and the Palestinians and the Lebanese, so two sides of the conflict can not be treated in the same way. Later he called Israel as worse than the South African apartheid because unlike the Gaza Strip and Lebanon there were no bombings of civilians in the South Africa. The Palestinian cause was compared by him to the Polish cause in XIX th century when the struggle of Poles for their independence was supported by the progressive public opinion. He denied the terrorist character of Hezbollah calling it the national liberation movement and comparing it to the anti-Hitlerite Home Army operating under Nazis occupation in Poland. (Of course much more correct comparison would be: the National Armed Forces — the extreme right underground organisation fighting both against Germans and the Communists and Jews, aiming to build the Greater Catholic Poland ).
The terrorist character of the Hezbollah was denied also by one of Lebanese speakers. Another Lebanese regretted that among the Israelis there are not 20,000 of “Righteous” against the war although during World War Two there were 20,000 Righteous Among the Nations saving Jewish people. (Among them the biggest national group were Poles). One of Polish women speaking to the loud speaker recalled the sentence from the Talmud: “Who is saving one life, is saving all the world.” She called the Israeli public opinion to remember this sentence.
The demonstrators shouted: “Free Lebanon, free Palestine”, The Occupation “Forces out of Lebanon and Palestine”, “Bush and Olmert — terrorists” etc. New Left spread its leaflet protesting against the aggression on Lebanon but also emphasising that the support for Palestinian self-determination can not be linked with any denial of Israeli national rights. One of the New Left banners had a Hebrew sentence: Lo tirtsach – Do not kill (the VI th Commandment). The next demo before the Israeli Embassy will take place in a few days.
Photos from the picket here.