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January 22, 2021 2:44 pm
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Far-Right Polish Politician Who Denounced ‘Powerful US Jewish Lobby’ Appointed Deputy Minister of Education

avatar by Ben Cohen

A marcher in Warsaw carries an antisemitic sign at a protest against the restitution of property stolen from Polish Jews during the Nazi occupation. Photo: Agencja Gazeta/Maciej Jazwiecki via Reuters.

A far-right Polish politician who accused “the powerful Jewish lobby in the USA” of attempting to swindle money “that is not due to them in any way” has been appointed as his country’s deputy minister for education.

Tomasz Rzymkowski was confirmed as secretary of state of Poland’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Friday.

A former member of the far-right movement “Ruch Narodowy,” Rzymkowski was a keynote speaker at a May 11, 2019 rally outside the US Embassy in Warsaw (pictured) that the AP news agency reported “appeared to be one of the largest anti-Jewish street demonstrations in recent times.”

The focus of the demonstrators ire was the passage by the US Congress of the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act S. 447 — which calls for the US to administrate compensation for stolen Jewish property from various European countries — earlier that month.

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The act provides no means of enforcement. Polish Prime Minister Marowiecki angrily rejected the legislation, claiming at the time that asking Poland to pay direct compensation for any wartime crimes amounted to a “posthumous victory for Hitler.”

Demonstrators outside the US mission chanted “This is Poland, not Polin” — the Hebrew word for Poland — with one participant complaining, “Why should we have to pay money today when nobody gives us anything? Americans only think about Jewish and not Polish interests.”

A State Department report on the issue in July 2020 reiterated earlier US concerns about Poland’s status as “the only European Union member state with significant Holocaust-era property issues” that had not passed restitution laws, noting as well that “approximately half of the 5,500 Jewish communal property claims filed under a 1997 restitution law remain unresolved, and approximately half of the adjudicated claims were rejected.”

Rzymkowski has led efforts in Sejm, Poland’s parliament, to reject the JUST Act. In May 2019, he tweeted an image of himself standing outside the White House in Washington, DC while clasping a copy of his own legislation to “protect Poland against heirless property claims.”

In one of several rhetorical swipes against the JUST Act, Rzymkowski warned in 2018 that “the powerful Jewish lobby in the USA is increasingly using political instruments to put pressure on European states to recover assets.”

While clarifying that he did not object to restitution to those with legitimate claims, Rzymkowski then accused American Jews of trying to swindle money “that is not due to them in any way.”

Rzymkowski is presently a supporter of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Party, having joined its group in the Sejm following the 2019 parliamentary elections in Poland.

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