An ugly incident in Warsaw:
Several Israelis were brutally assaulted in Poland after the assailants asked where they were from, the brother of one of the victims alleged on Sunday.
Barak Kashpizky posted to Facebook a pair of pictures of his bloodied twin brother Yotam, taken shortly after the attack, in an account that quickly went viral.
In it, Kashpizky said that Yotam had gone out to a club in Warsaw with several other Israeli students attending a summer semester abroad at the local law school.
At 4 a.m., the Israelis were approached by a group of “Arabic speakers” who asked them if they were from Israel.
“When they answered in the affirmative, they were relentlessly attacked, [in blows] accompanied by shouts of ‘fuck Israel,’” wrote Barak Kashpizky, adding that his brother was briefly knocked unconscious.
In addition to Yotam, who suffered a broken nose from the beating, another Israeli was briefly hospitalized. Both have since been released.
Yotam told Channel 13 later on Sunday that there were roughly four attackers who said they were from Qatar and also chanted “free Gaza” as they beat him.
“There were many, many people and club bouncers watching on the side, but nobody did anything,” Yotam said.
“History is repeating itself in Warsaw, Poland, as Poles stand by and watch, while people who ‘are not from our nation’ are beating Jews until they lose consciousnesses,” his twin Barak wrote in his post.
Polish media is reporting the incident took place on the street outside of the nightclub, which puts the spectators’ inaction in a somewhat different light. I can’t peer into the hearts of the witnesses that night – and neither can the victims of the assault – to see whether anti-Semitism might have indeed motivated the non-intervention. It is safe to say that many passers-by simply might not have been aware of the ethnicity of either the attackers or the attacked and might not have therefore understood the anti-Semitic nature of the attack. The harsh reality is that people are generally not too keen to get involved in group fights where they don’t know the people involved and might not know which side is in the right, if either. Bouncers, in turn, are employed by the venues to keep order inside, not to police the streets. At 4 o’clock in the morning there are few heroes willing to risk getting beaten up for the sake of trying to stop a random street fight. You can, if you choose to, consider that attitude cowardly but you can’t necessarily imply bigoted motivations behind it.
The attack has been, needless to say, widely condemned by the authorities and the police are investigating it as a racially-motivated crime. We can only wish that the attackers and apprehended as soon as possible.
There is no denying that an undercurrent of anti-Semitism exists in contemporary Poland, though arguably it’s less widespread and socially acceptable than at any time over the past couple of centuries. The most common comment I have seen under the Polish news stories can be paraphrased as “if our immigration policies were like those of Western Europe we would be having incidents like this every day.” There is something in that; sometimes the home-grown bigots are enough to deal with.