February 26, 2019 — Paris, France
AJC Europe is outraged by the intervention of anti-Semitic protesters at an academic conference on the Holocaust. The two-day conference, “The New Polish School of Historical Research on the Holocaust,” sponsored by the French School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences in cooperation with the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah in Paris, brought together 34 renowned Polish, French, American, and Canadian historians.
During the conference, some of the Polish attendees interrupted presentations, booing and shouting anti-Semitic invectives, as panelists presented their papers. Several of the scholars have revealed in their research painful facts about active participation of some Poles in blackmailing and even killing Jews during the Holocaust.
“Coming to terms with the most difficult chapters in Polish-Jewish history is undoubtedly a challenging and time-consuming process,” said Agnieszka Markiewicz, Director of AJC Central Europe, based in Warsaw. “However, outright rejection of the new findings of scholars and accusing them of being anti-Polish is unacceptable and counterproductive. It is important to refrain from trying to monopolize and politicize historical discourse.”
The outburst at the conference was quickly condemned by French Minster of Higher Education Frédérique Vidal. “Neither the pressures nor the threats can harm academic freedom. History is a science; the historians write it,” Vidal tweeted.
Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, Director of AJC Europe, based in Paris, welcomed Minister Vidal’s quick reaction and public condemnation of the protesters. “Universities are a sacred place, and it is crucial for professors and historians to be able to have a serious conversation and analysis of what happened,” said Rodan-Benzaquen.