Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Polish MEP's anti-Semitic booklet sparks outrage

Brochure published by far-right Polish deputy to European Parliament says Jews ‘create their own ghettos" because they like to separate themselves from other communities’

An anti-Semitic booklet published by a far-right Polish deputy to the European Parliament has sparked outrage among EU officials and Jewish organizations.

The 32-page brochure by "Civilizations at war in Europe" by Maciej Giertych, says Jews "create their own ghettos" because they like to separate themselves from other communities.

"I am deeply troubled by ... the content of the brochure published by ... European deputy Maciej Giertych," European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said in a statement.

He said he would investigate the circumstances of the publication of the booklet, which has the parliament's logo, although it was not funded by the Strasbourg-based assembly.

Giertych, a 71-year-old biology professor, says the booklet is to popularize the work of a little-known Polish historian, but it may also serve to score points with the electorate at home.

Giertych is a member of the ultra Catholic League of Polish Families, which is a junior partner in Poland's right-wing coalition government. He is the father of Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Roman Giertych

'19th century racial stereotyping'

The professor triggered a scandal in the EU Parliament last year when he defended the legacy of Spain's former dictator, General Francisco Franco, during a debate on the 70th anniversary of his coup.

In his brochure, published in Strasbourg last week, he wrote of Jewish people: "It is a civilization of programmed separateness, of programmed differentiation from the surrounding communities ... By their own will, they prefer to live a separate life, in apartheid from the surrounding communities ... They form the ghettos themselves ..."

The remarks were condemned by the European Jewish Congress.

"The EJC ... reserves the right to bring to court the author of this anti-Semitic text which reeks of medieval hate and 19th century racial stereotyping," it said in a statement.

Giertych was not immediately available for comment.

Commenting on the booklet, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said the EU executive "rejects and condemns any manifestations of anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia."