Jeremy Jones, Director of International and of Community Affairs of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council and Poland’s newly appointed Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Michal Kolodzieski, met in Sydney today for a “full, frank and constructive” discussion on Polish-Jewish relations and the recent Polish legislation on “defamation of the Polish Nation”.
After an initial meeting in Canberra before the legislation had been enacted, the Sydney discussion, of over 90 minutes, went into considerable depth on the intent of the law and its impact on Jewish-Polish relations.
Mr Jones has visited Poland a number of times, for inter-religious and intercultural dialogue, as a lecturer on antisemitism and racism and to visit sites of importance to both Jewish and his own family’s historical experiences. He has also worked with members of the Polish communities in Australia on educational and public awareness projects.
“I have no doubt that the Polish Ambassador has a genuine desire to have a strong and vibrant Polish-Jewish relationship and believes that a full and honest appreciation of history and society, including both positive and shameful aspects, is not just necessary but desirable”, Mr Jones said.
They discussed the serious Jewish concerns at the possible impact of the new legislation, and the context of new nationalisms in Europe and the politics of Europe today.
The positive aspects of Polish society, as documented in the Australian film Pockets of Hope and as demonstrated over many years by the activities of the Australian Institute for Polish Affairs, were the examplars for the future, and the discussion focused on how best to ensure discussions and public debate is grounded in knowledge and not unhelpful caricatures.
“The Ambassador wanted to learn more about the concersn of AIJAC, of international scholars and of people of goodwill in this country and elsewhere.”
“We noted that there is important work to be done to ensure that antisemitism is confronted and historical information conveyed effectively and honestly”, Mr Jones added.
Jeremy Jones 02 93605415