In Warsaw, “march” came in January. A march in support of Israel, that is.
On a sunny, cold day, several hundred Poles, most of them Christians, made a nearly two-mile trek through the streets of the capital earlier this month to show their support for Israel during what the organizers called the current “third intifada.”
Coordinated by a coalition of national and local Christian organizations, the “March of Support for Israel” went from Grzybowski Square, where the city’s main synagogue and other Jewish institutions are located, to the Israeli Embassy. Along the way, the participants — “people of good will and Christians from all churches and communities,” according to organizers — sang and danced and prayed for Israel, carrying Israeli and Polish flags.
“We want to publicly show that Poles and Christians support Israel and oppose anti-Semitism,” one participant was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying.
“When Polish and European media report on events in Israel, it is often unreliable and negative for Israelis,” said Pawel Czyszek, editor of the Polish Jews Forum. “I walked in the march, carrying the flag of the State of Israel, to demonstrate my support for the country and convey to Israelis that they are not alone.”
A police escort accompanied the group, which along the way encountered a small rally of a nationalist group whose members were waving Palestinian flags.
“This is a group of Christians who are concerned with admitting to, and asking for forgiveness for, the sins of Europe and their ancestors,” Rabbi Yehoshua Ellis, above, the American-born emissary of the Shavei Israel organization in Katowice, in southern Poland, told The Jewish Week via email. “Many Poles are aware not only of the Jewish heritage of where they are from, but the connection to Israel as well.”
He spoke at the rally, and blessed the crowd, filling in for Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Poland’s chief rabbi.
“The atmosphere was light and happy,” Rabbi Ellis said. People “blew shofar and sang Israeli songs.”