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October 10, 2012 3:28 am

Clifton, New Jersey: Honoring an Anti-Semite?

avatar by Alan Dershowitz

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A highway sign pointing towards Clifton New Jersey.

At a time of increasing anti-Semitism in many parts of the world, it is deeply disturbing that the city of Clifton, N.J., — in the shadows of New York City — is considering naming a park after a virulent anti-Semite and racist named Chester Grabowski, who died in April.

At least one obituary of Grabowski earlier this year innocuously called him an “advocate for Polish-Americans.” But the truth is much more troubling.

For decades, Grabowski published a newspaper in Clifton called The Post Eagle. In that newspaper, Grabowski repeatedly referred to Jews as “vermin,” “animals” and “Christ killers.”

Grabowski refused to comply with the dictates of Vatican II in 1965, which declared it a sin to promote anti-Semitism or to blame the Jews for killing Christ. Instead, he urged his readers to never “forget and forgive them for deciding to kill our God, and their God, which they refused to recognize.”

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Nor was Grabowski’s anti-Semitism unknown to people in the area. A 1984 article written about Grabowski in the Bergen Record documented his hate-filled writings and described them as “vitriolic anti-Semitic diatribes.”

Grabowski himself was a Holocaust denier who published material accusing Jews of fomenting anti-Semitism, imposing Communism on Poland and creating virtually all the evils in the world.

Little wonder the Anti-Defamation League, dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, consistently condemned Grabowski.

Not only was Grabowski anti-Semitic, he was a racist who published an advertisement from the Ku Klux Klan wishing “all polenta a merry White Christmas” — and illustrating that racist wish with a drawing of Santa Claus wearing a Klan hood.

Yet despite this well-known and extensive documentation of Grabowski’s anti-Semitism and bigotry, the proposal to name a park — where young children will play — after him has received significant support among public officials in the Clifton area. Among the idea’s backers were Sheriff Richard Berdnik and local Congressman Bill Pascrell.

But when Pascrell learned of Grabowski’s background, he changed his mind, saying, “There can be never be room for anti-Semitism in any context.”  Sheriff Berdnik also withdrew his support.  But some public officials, even after hearing of Grabowski’s long history of bigotry, have continued to push for the proposal to name the park after him.

The primary advocate for this outrageous proposal has been Grabowski’s son, Matthew, who serves as the member of the City Council of Clifton.  In interviews, he claims that his father’s motives and beliefs have been distorted and taken out of context.

The son must be aware of his father’s long history of anti-Semitism and racism. Yet he continues to press for honoring his father, because, he claims, his father did other good things for the Polish-American community.

That is simply unacceptable. The central theme by which the late Grabowski sought to unite Polish-Americans was old-fashioned anti-Semitism and anti-black racism.

This is not about critics like myself misunderstanding the Polish perspective on history. The current Polish government has rejected anti-Semitism and has tried hard to build bridges with the Jewish community and with Israel. Most Polish-Americans today have no patience for Grabowski’s brand of bigotry, either.

If Clifton goes forward with the proposal to name the park after Grabowski, that city and that park will become symbols of bigotry around the world.

Nobody ever tried to stop Grabowski from exercising his free speech. Under our First Amendment, he was entitled to engage in hate speech, just as the Nazis who marched through Skokie, Ill., were entitled to spew their hatred.

But Skokie did not honor the Nazis that marched through its streets. If Clifton decides to honor its most famously anti-Semitic and racist resident, it will stand for prejudice.

I have a better idea about who the park should be named after. Jan Karski was a distinguished Polish-American who taught human rights at Georgetown University. As a young Catholic lawyer in Poland, he documented the Holocaust being committed against Polish Jews, and risked his life to tell the world about it. The street adjoining the Polish Consulate in New York is now named in Karski’s honor, and Karski posthumously received the Medal of Freedom from the U.S.

When the children of Clifton are playing in the park, and they ask about the person after whom it was named, it would be far better to tell them about the honorable life of Jan Karski than about the dishonorable life of Chester Grabowski.

A version of this article appeared in The New York Daily News.

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  • PIM MEIBOSCH

    Polish government has rejected anti-Semitism and has tried hard to build bridges with the Jewish community and with Israel.
    POLITICIANS WILL BUILD BRIDGES WHERE THERE IS NO WATER.

  • Diogenes

    Not every Jew is “white.” But what does whiteness have to do with Alan Dershowitz’s central claim that Chester Grabowski was a virulent anti-Semite? Either he was, or he was not. If he was not, no town should name a park after him.

  • David Barry

    I was fortunate to know Chester Grabowski and I am Jewish. He helped to raise money for a cure for Alzheimer’s which my father suffered from.in his later years. He also was a cat rescuer finding good homes for hungry, homeless cats. Alan Dershowitz’s libelous smears should be ignored. The only reason Dersgowitz has concocted these lies about Mr. Grabowski is because he was a fierce critic of Israel. The park should be named CHESTER GRABOWSKI PARK. And let the children play.

  • Daniel Genseric

    “ASIA FOR THE ASIANS, AFRICA FOR THE AFRICANS, WHITE COUNTRIES FOR EVERYBODY!”

    Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.

    The Netherlands and Belgium are just as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.

    Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites.

    What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into EVERY black country and ONLY into black countries?

    How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?

    And how long would it take any sane black man to notice this and what kind of psycho black man wouldn’t object to this?

    But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

    They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

    • susan

      Hello,
      People of the Jewish faith are white,therefore, why did
      Chester Grabowski hate Jews? There is something deeper than this that you don’t understand. That is religious and ideaolgical prejudice which we find running throughout history. The people of the US allowed black people in as slaves and they suffered. Why don’t you have compassion? The Europeans are allowing Muslims into their countries. The Muslims are the cause for the European economic downturn because they cannot integrate into their societies. Yes, there are minorities who are taking government handouts. They are not the Jews.

      • Tycho Lehra

        Chester Grabowski is no different from many other Poles. Prior to WWII, they yelled: “The Jews are ruining our economy by being here (in Poland). Afterwards, they yelled: “The Jews are ruining our economy by not being here.” Never satisfied.

      • Felix

        So by your accounts all Jews are white? Yeah I guess Yaphet Kotto and people in Ethiopia and Brazil don’t count for anything because those aren’t white nations who actually have substantial Jewish history, white and non-white. Yet America wonders why they’re laughed at.

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