Statement by Tad Taube, Chairman, Taube Philanthropies; Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland in the San Francisco Bay Area


I wish to address the recent Polish Government legislation that has created a firestorm across the globe.  The current situation is most unfortunate because it stands in direct contrast with the Polish Government I have worked with for many years to foster a major rebirth of Jewish life in Poland.

There are a number of factors at play. Poland, as we all know, was the site of the most horrendous tragedies of WWII and the Holocaust, which was primarily implemented on Polish soil.  The Holocaust involved the direct murder of some 6 million Jews and close to 2 million Poles and Polish minorities (as well as other nationalities). Moreover, the Polish capital city of Warsaw was over 90% incinerated. The stigma of such colossal experience doesn’t disappear quickly – indeed, the stain continues to this day with many people outside of Poland seeing it as complicit in the tragedies of the Holocaust. Understandably Poland wishes to have some modicum of control over its history and how the nation is represented to the outside world. Additionally, for better or worse, Poland sees Western Europe as being plagued by terrorism and does not want this to happen on Polish soil. Lastly, Poland has seen Soviet-type aggression re-emerging accompanied by US withdrawal from Poland of missile-defense systems.  All of these circumstances together have created a degree of paranoia that in turn has led to a rightward move by the government – accompanied unfortunately by recent Polish political missteps. 

So the operative question is, what now???  The reaction to date accusing Poland of starting another Holocaust, with venom and condemnation against Poland in virtually every public communication, is both an overreaction and counterproductive. What is needed, in my opinion, is a civilized dialogue focused on the positive achievements of Poland’s free democratic government since the 1989 revolution, including a very positive relationship with the Polish Jewish community and with Israel. In short, there is much more to discuss that is positive and continuing to this day than a seriously misdirected move by the Polish Legislature. Now is the time to keep Poland at the table and maintain our well-established relationships.

Taube Philanthropies has been on the ground in Poland since 2003 working with the Polish government to help in the restoration of Jewish cultural and communal life.  We have enjoyed unprecedented success in this endeavor because of assistance from non-Jewish Polish citizens and the Polish government. Our name in Poland bears virtually instant recognition for the work we do and the results we have been privileged to experience.

We believe that with the encouragement of emissaries such as ourselves, and others of similar conviction, the Polish government will find a way to gracefully retreat from the corner into which it has placed itself.  There is an old saying that one can accomplish more with honey than with vinegar. This should be how we accord ourselves in re-establishing the harmonious relationship with the Polish Government that has existed since 1989. 

 

Tad Taube

Chairman, Taube Philanthropies
Honorary Consul for the Republic of Poland in the San Francisco Bay Area

 

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