# 162 / Editorial

What’s left of Polish Jewry? Around 10,000 people, and a few well-kept cemeteries. This week, we are publishing the first part of a report by American journalist Gabriel Rom, devoted to the preservation of the burial heritage of Poland’s Jews, and the strange ambivalence of memory that this reflects. The conservative Polish government had devoted substantial sums of money to the restoration of Jewish cemeteries, while at the same time spending years constructing a national narrative that was intended to be free of grey areas. Even going so far as to criminalize the idea that Poland was responsible for the Holocaust. The burden of memory – a memory laden with guilt – is met with silence and denial, with the result that Poland struggles to fully honor its participation in a European Union that has made lucidity about its past a cornerstone of its political identity. But Gabriel Rom’s journey among the tombstones is not limited to well-ordered alleys and heritage-laden names: behind the desire to whitewash history and pretend that Jewishness and Polishness are seamlessly linked, we find moss-covered monuments to the victims of the Holocaust, and plaques whose names have already been almost erased. It is these fragments of a disappearing memory that his report echoes.

The second text we’re publishing this week also deals with the memory of a vanished Eastern Judaism, and how its glorified summoning up in the present can serve as a smokescreen. We asked Boris Czerny to write a review of Tales from the Borders, the latest book by Israeli-American historian Omer Bartov, a specialist in the role of the Wehrmacht in the Holocaust and inter-ethnic relations in Ukrainian Galicia. Bartov sets out to restore the intimate memory of a Judaism at the European “end of the world”, through the tales that circulated among the inhabitants of Buczacz, the Galician town from which his mother came. But, as Czerny points out, while Bartov’s historical reconstruction is rich and evocative, if not rigorous, it serves above all to condemn the way in which Jews have entered another “end of the world”: Israel. Indeed, why does Bartov use his description of the cultural richness of a Jewish nation integrated into a multi-ethnic Galician society as the basis for an anti-Zionist argument? This never ceases to amaze. Bartov, Cerny tells us, sees Zionism as a brutal and proud nationalism, quick to assert itself through violence at the expense of its neighbors. Yet the Jewish society of Galicia, almost all of which was exterminated, was one of the most fertile breeding grounds for socialist Zionism, and for the budding field of international law. Playing with the idea that the victim ultimately resembles his executioner, and not merely criticizing Israeli policy, objectively makes Bartov a prime source for the antisemitic positions that are advancing under the guise of contemporary anti-Zionism.

Finally, since the idea that the realization of a state for Jews is intrinsically suspect is clearly still alive and well, and for those who haven’t yet read it and sent it to all their acquaintances who confuse criticism of Israel in the name of international law with anti-Zionist criticism, we’re leaving one more week to Julia Christ’s article “Anti-Zionism: a realistic option?”.

Happy reading!

Poland once had more than 1,500 Jewish cemeteries. Since Poland’s current Jewish population is estimated at 10,000. The math is stark: today in Poland there is about one Jewish cemetery for every 15 living Polish Jews. In the report — which we are publishing in two parts — American journalist Gabriel Rom tells us about both the virtuous initiatives to preserve these cemeteries and the vicious policies of exploitation to which they are subjected.

In one of Omer Bartov’s latest books Tales from the Bonderlands. Making und Unmaking the Galician Past (Yale University Press, 2022) he writes about an almost forgotten “end of the world” – that of a Galicia where Jews, Poles and Ukrainians lived side by side – whose memory the historian seeks to narrate from its tales and legends. Boris Czerny provides a critical account, noting that Bartov’s nostalgia for this lost Eden-like land is matched by a mistrust of the way in which Jews have taken over another “end of the world”, which would appear to have turned them into “bullies”.

“We have to differentiate between anti-Zionism and antisemitism”, say those who don’t like being called antisemitic. On the face of it, there’s nothing foolish about this demand: it’s necessary to distinguish between legitimate criticism of the Jewish state and dubious feelings towards Jews. But is it really necessary to invent a specific word for this criticism? Philosopher Julia Christ traces the various possible uses of the notion of “anti-Zionism” and asks under what conditions, and in what context, criticism of the State of Israel can legitimately be called anti-Zionist. This brief analysis of state criticism and its modalities provides a clearer picture of when anti-Zionism is just another word for antisemitism.

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Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.