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6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blonski's New Judeocentrically-Framed Morality and its Implications, April 17, 2007
This review is from: My Brother's Keeper: Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust (Hardcover)
Jan Blonski has invented a new form of morality, in which indifference to a murder now makes one morally (though not legally) guilty of the murder. How creative! Not surprisingly, Blonski's "new morality" is entirely one-sided. Not a single one of the following questions is answered in this volume: Should those Jews who were indifferent to Polish deaths also share in moral guilt for them? In fact, how often did Jews include Poles in THEIR universe of moral obligations? Had Poles disappeared instead, wouldn't there have been some Jews delighted at this outcome? Should Jews also be enjoined to stop searching for attenuating circumstances behind their conduct, and admit fault for their complicity in Polish sufferings (as from the Zydokomuna)? Should the endless discussions on the Church's traditional negative view of Jews be expanded to include Judaism's historically negative view of Christianity? Or are there different moral standards now in existence for Poles and Jews?

Polonsky (p. 11), Blonski (p. 46), and Bryk (p. 176) portray Polish defensive reactions against Jewish accusations as tacit admissions of Polish guilt. Oh, really? Using the same reasoning, when Jews likewise react against falsifications of their history (e. g., by the Holocaust Deniers), should one conclude that the Deniers may be on to something?

What purpose does Blonski's "new morality" serve? Kazimierz Kakol (p. 146) sees it as yet another dilution of German guilt (however subtly, in this case). Otherwise, it is, not surprisingly, all about Holocaust uniqueness. Andrzej Bryk writes: "The Polish side has had difficulty in grasping that Jews have been struggling for the acceptance of the uniqueness of the Holocaust very often by indirect means, even through libelous accusations, bordering on the irrational. Yet it has to be added that faced with moral insensitivity toward's one's suffering, one fights with anything at hand, very often with shock." (p. 176). Taking Bryk to his logical conclusion, one could exonerate the Holocaust Deniers by treating their views as an irrational but somewhat understandable reaction against the chauvinistic exultation of Jewish sufferings over those of all others!

Blonski repeats the myth of the 10,000-strong Kielce mob (p. 39; actually 200-300 at its peak, with no more than 150 at 4 Planty Street) and the myth of equivalency in risk to life from participating in the Underground and from rescuing Jews (p. 38; Actually, one search by a dog-wielding German was usually sufficient to uncover a hidden Jew). Bryk (p. 170) complains that the AK was planning a desperate, suicidal uprising in the event of wholesale German extermination of Poles, but not for the 3 million Polish Jews (p. 170). What he conveniently forgets is that the AK also didn't launch an uprising for the 2-3 million murdered Poles.

Teresa Prekerowa (p. 74) presents an oft-quoted computation of only 1-2.5% percent of Poles ever helping Jews. Her computations are invalid because they do not factor the tiny number of Jews ever potentially AVAILABLE to be rescued. (The vast majority of the Jews remained trapped in ghettos until their journeys to the death camps). Owing to this fact, the vast majority of potential Polish rescuers never had access to a single Jew during the entire German occupation (Turowicz, p. 139)!

Poles are repeatedly berated (pp. 22-23, 77-80, 142) for discussing "Jewish passivity", when unmentioned is the fact that many Jewish authors (e. g., Bruno Bettelheim, Yitzhak Zuckerman, Leon Poliakov, Hannah Arendt) also shared this view. In attempting to create a Polish counterpart to "Jewish passivity", Prekerowa asks: "But was every Pole a conspirator? The enormous majority of the population even in Warsaw, in this heart of underground Poland, to say nothing of the inhabitants of the tens of smaller cities and towns and hundreds of villages, thought only about ways to survive the war, to stay alive...Their everyday lives were filled by commonplace activities which helped to make living under the occupation bearable." (p. 78). Ironically, by hinting that most Poles were afraid to participate in Underground activities, Prekerowa weakens the argument about Polish risk-taking in this activity but not in the hiding of Jews. And, ironically, by admitting the harrowing experiences of Poles, Prekerowa demolishes the usual portrayal of Poles as "spectators" of the Jewish catastrophe.

Salmonowicz (pp. 56-57) identifies Russian and Prussian Jews as 19th-century disseminators of anti-Polish writings. Rymanowski (p. 156) points out that few Jews were involved in the 19th-century Polish insurrections against foreign rule. Jan Karski (p. 86) confirms the shortage of arms faced by the AK at the time of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the disbelief of Judge Felix Frankfurter to his testimony (p. 88). Yisrael Gutman (p. 202) again repudiates the notion that the German [...] death camps were set up in occupied Poland because of Polish attitudes. He also recognizes the difference between traditional anti-Semitism of the Polish type, and the racist and exterminationist [...] anti-Semitism.

The informed reader understands that this book is part of the same old genre of Judeocentric selective moralizing against Poles--which continues to this day. After the recent publications of NEIGHBORS and FEAR by Jan Tomasz Gross, there was the predictable media fascination about the moral issues and responsibilities that Poles now must face, but not a trace of interest in any of the unsavory aspects of past Jewish conduct against Poles.
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My Brother's Keeper: Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust
My Brother's Keeper: Recent Polish Debates on the Holocaust by Antony Polonsky (Hardcover - February 2, 1990)
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