POLIN Museum Director’s statement regarding the Israel-Hamas war (an update)

Budynek Muzeum POLIN odbija się w tafli pomnika Bohaterów Getta.
fot. M. Starowieyska / Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich

On 7 October 2023 Hamas terrorists launched an attack on Israel. They committed barbaric crimes, cruelly murdering over one thousand civilians, including children. Jews engaged in peace efforts and the reconciliation between the State of Israel and its Palestinian neighbours were assaulted and killed. Over two hundred Israelis were abducted, one of them being Alex Dancyg—our colleague and a devoted friend of POLIN Museum. I do believe there is no justification for such an unprecedented act of terror.

Israel is of particular importance to POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, above all because Polish Jews played a significant role in its establishment. It is indisputable that the Jewish state has the right to exist; questioning this fact is a manifestation of antisemitism. I am deeply concerned by the growing wave of violence against Jews in many parts of the globe. That is why POLIN Museum will continue in its efforts to combat antisemitic attitudes. I firmly condemn both antisemitism and Islamophobia—there can be no tolerance for prejudice, discrimination and hatred against any social, ethnic or religious group.

I wish to express my deepest sympathy for the Palestinian civilians who are innocent victims of the war that has cost thousands of lives on both sides for decades now. While I am not qualified to pass judgement on the purpose or manner of carrying out military operations, the death of so many Palestinians and the scale of the humanitarian disaster are shocking and raise questions about adhering to international conventions and treaties. I share the pain and sorrow of the family of Damian Sobol, Polish volunteer killed in an attack of the Israeli armed forces on a humanitarian convoy.

I do not give up hope that some sort of political solution will be reached to allow both the Israeli and Palestinian nations to coexist in peace, enjoying freedom and equal rights. Together with the public opinion all across the globe, I await the end of this abominable, bloody conflict.

The history of Polish Jews, which we tell at our Museum, teaches us that human rights must protect each and every one, under all circumstances. 

Zygmunt Stępiński

POLIN Museum Director

The initial version of the statement was published on 20 November 2023.