In his “Eastern Europe’s Crisis of Shame” (September 13, https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/eastern-europe-refugee-crisis-xenophobia-by-jan-gross-2015-09#exDBTojqcQWlmRlB.99) Princeton’s sociologist Jan Tomasz Gross chastised Eastern European nations, Poland in particular, for failing to address the current Middle Eastern refugee crisis properly. According to him, Poland has rejected the migrants. To provide a moral dimension and a historical context to contemporary developments, Gross opined that “the Poles… actually killed more Jews than Germans during the war.” Neither his historical musings nor his understanding of the current crisis square with the facts.
A New York newspaper has asked Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz to comment:
Jan Tomasz Gross writes nonsense. However, he does regurgitate a thesis that has enjoyed a long currency among a few Jewish ethnonationalist historians. For example, Reuben Ainsztein stated some years ago that “during the [Warsaw 1944] uprising Polish fascists killed most likely more Jews than Germans.” (See his Jewish Resistance in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, London 1974).
Let’s see. During the Warsaw Rising the Germans and their allies lost about 10,000 casualties. Thus, according to Ainsztein, the Polish Home Army (AK) must have killed over 10,000 Jews. Gross’s methodology is similarly unsound as it is based upon a spurious estimate that the Polish peasants killed allegedly 200,000 Jews during the war.
Further, such shoddy “scholarship” co-exists hand in glove with poor command of current affairs in Europe. Gross claims that Poland and other Eastern and Central European countries have refused to take refugees and, thus, “have revealed themselves to be intolerant, illiberal, xenophobic, and incapable of remembering the spirit of solidarity that carried them to freedom a quarter-century ago.” This is untrue. The Poles have welcomed refugees. According to the New York Times (30 May 2015), there are at least 400,000 Ukrainian war fugitives in Poland. Additional hundreds of thousands of migrants rotate through Poland for seasonal work to return home afterwards. What does the rest of Europe do for them?
As far as the Middle Eastern and African refugees are concerned,
- According to the Dublin Regulation (no. 604/2013), the first EU country to accept a migrant is responsible for his processing, maintenance, and settlement. Since most of them cross into Greece, Athens should take care of them.
- It is true that other nations should accept the refugees, in particular wealthy Arab states, including Saudi Arabia. They can afford it, and they should help their co-religionists in the first place.
- One could also suggest that Israel take them for humanitarian and logistical reasons. The Jewish state abuts Syria and has a long history of aid to foreign people in times of crisis (e.g., in Haiti). Perhaps a moral argument can be made that history dictates that Israel should render assistance to those in need since the Jewish people often had to count on others for help.
Moral blackmail with alleged Polish mass murders on the Jewish people is as morally flawed as endeavors to force Israel to settle Syrian refugees with a vicious propaganda campaign comparing Israeli policy toward the Palestinians to the Nazi measures against the Jews.
The case of J.T. Gross shows the frightful collapse of scholarly standards in the humanities and social sciences at a formerly prime institution of learning. Shame on Princeton.
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz