Posted by: becketfund | March 5, 2009

Poland: New School Texts Introduced to Fight Anti-Semitism

WARSAW – A human rights group and Poland’s Education Ministry introduced new teaching materials for Poland’s middle schools on Thursday in an effort to combat anti-Semitism, the AP reported on March 5. Poland is the fifth in a group of 12 countries adopting such workbooks, after Germany, Ukraine, Denmark and the Netherlands. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe guided the project as part of an overall effort to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination. Each country’s texts cover similar topics, such as the history of anti-Semitism in Europe from the Middle Ages to World War II, but the books are written in the local language and focus on local issues. Poland’s books attempt to undermine a long-held assumption in Poland that a person cannot be Jewish and Polish at the same time. The notion has led to the exclusion of Jews from mainstream society and furthered the notion that they are foreign even though Jews first arrived 1,000 years ago. “This is a problem in Poland — that identity is perceived through your religion or ethnicity,” said Piotr Trojanski, a historian and one of the main authors of the project in Poland. “We would like to change this.”

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