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Ambassador Witold Sobków’s letter in the Times
The Times published Ambassador Witold Sobków’s response to Giles Coren’s recent column Today I am make first column in Polski’, which ridicules Poles as not fluent English speakers, topping this with a portrayal of the Polish nation as anti-Semitic.

The Saturday’s article by Giles Coren http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/gilescoren/article3675767.ece published at The Times triggered protests by the main Polish organisations in the UK. It resulted in their joint letter appearing today next to the Ambassador’s letter in The Times. The article angered also Britons, like Edward Lucas, acknowledged journalist of The Economist. Embassy received many e-mails, letters and comments expressing support from Poles and non-Poles alike. The Polish community in the UK was mobilised thanks to social media: Facebook and Twitter. The tweets of the Embassy and Ambassador Witold Sobków were circulated widely. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Radosław Sikorski forwarded the Embassy’s protest through his Twitter’s profile.

Please note that the Ambassador’s letter has been abridged by the The Times’ editors. Please see the full version below which has been published by Polish media in the UK.

From time to time, and recently in British media, we find the image of Poles distorted or presented in a negative, if not malicious, way. It used to be the domain of British tabloids. Unfortunately, when it turned out that Polish is the second most widely spoken language in England and Wales, this quality newspaper – by means of Giles Coren’s article (The Times, Today I am make first column in Polski, 2 February 2013) has joined the choir of fear and prejudice.

Giles Coren ridicules how Polish immigrants speak English. He assumes that someone’s intelligence (or lack of) can be judged by the level of one’s proficiency in a foreign language. At least we make an effort to learn foreign languages, even if we are not 100% proficient. Mr. Coren forgets, or ignores the fact, that these Poles in the UK whom he derides build British roads, stadia, tunnels, houses, wait on British customers in restaurants, work for the good of British guests at hotels, drive British cars, strengthen British banks and consulting agencies in the City, treat British patients as doctors and nurses, enhance the UK’s competitiveness, pay taxes and contribute to pension funds of British citizens. They do not abuse the system by taking allowances for their children in Poland, as has been suggested in some other recent articles. They simply act in accordance with British and EU law. According to a report by NIER (National Institute of Economic and Social Research), from 2004 to 2009, incoming immigration to Britain from recent EU country members, mainly from Poland, has contributed to an increase of Britain’s GDP by 0.38% which equates to£4.91 billion. Poles come to Britain to work hard. They fill the gaps in the labour market. As so many Poles are your neighbours, we hope you will be encouraged to learn more about these strangers, their history and customs, their cuisine and culture. Just make an effort, however small.

Unfortunately, Mr Coren attempts to combine humour with his pathetic language games, topped with anti-Semitic incidents in the UK, which, quite simply, have nothing to do with Poles. What do they have in common? His often repeated thesis is: ‘Poles are anti-Semites’. This is not the first time that Giles Coren provokes the Polish community in the UK with accusations of anti-Semitism and we deplore the fact that he is allowed to express his despicable views in The Times. In Mr Coren’s imagination, Poland appears to resemble Borat’s world. He ignores the fact that in Poland we build synagogues, not burn them as in some countries, and welcome freedom of faith and worship. When it comes to the Righteous among the Nations, Yad Vashem mentions 6339 Polish rescuers, and only 19 from the UK. This fact speaks for itself. In light of Mr Coren’s ignorant accusations, we welcome him to join the annual Jewish festival in Kazimierz in Poland where thousands of people enjoy Jewish culture to the full. A little bit of effort might go a long way and he might just widen his horizons.

This may come as a shock to some uneducated readers of the UK press, however, Poland never collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II. The Polish government, prior to World War II, the Polish government in exile during World War II, as well as the country’s Underground Army, openly opposed the Nazis. Just take a moment to think and understand why Poland had the largest Jewish community in Europe before the war. Could it possibly mean that Poland was the country which most openly welcomed the Jews? Of course, this does not mean that no acts of ant-Semitism were recorded – we are fully aware of our country’s history. However, it is worth mentioning, that contrary to other European countries, Poles who were caught providing any assistance to Jews in German-occupied Poland during World War II were immediately given a death sentence. Such assistance required heroism, as it was not only one’s life that was put at stake, but also lives of all the members of that individual’s family. Sadly, through widespread ignorance, these facts are not recognised properly in Europe. It may surprise the readers of The Times, however, in light of the truth us Poles are proud of and are not afraid to speak of, we cannot accept Mr Coren’s abominable description of Poles as ‘model anti-Semites’, even if perhaps (though difficult to decipher for obvious linguistic reasons) the point he wishes to make is that the danger of anti-Semitism remains present in Western Europe, including the United Kingdom.

Witold Sobków,
Ambassador of The Republic of Poland

(Żródło. Tłumaczenie-omówienie tekstu.)

Nie, żebym nie lubiła poczytać sobie czasem wygłupów Gilesa Corena (w UK albo gdy jeszcze The Times był w pełni dostępny w sieci).


Komentarze 3 to “Ku pamięci”

  1. Asia Says:

    Naprawdę nie chcesz dyskutować?
    Bo ja bym chętnie:
    Tekst wydaje się cukierkowy, typowo od-ambasadorski.
    A prawdę nieraz widzieliśmy i razem dyskutowaliśmy: Polacy są i byli w UK różni: także tacy, co żerowali i żerują na systemie, nie uczą się języka, nie integrują, nie starają zrozumieć mentalności gospodarzy. Więc ten dziennikarz, nawet jeśli ima się chwytów populistycznych, może trafić na podatny grunt, zwłaszcza w kryzysie, podczas dyskusji o przyszłości UK w obrębie EU, perspektywach otwarcia rynków pracy dla Rumunów i Bułgarów.

    To tak na początek. 🙂

  2. TesTeq Says:

    Koniec. No comments.

  3. basia Says:

    Asiu, tak, oczywiście, o tym by można tomy, doktoraty, dezyderaty. A mnie chodziło nie tyle o tomy, ile o tony*… Zatem Maestro miał rację…

    *i o próbę komentatorskiej własnowoli… sterowanej co prawda… 🙄


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