Polish Football Association Under Fire for Calling 4-0 Win over Israel a ‘Pogrom’

Pogrom
AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

The Polish Football Association is not backing down from using the word “pogrom,” to describe Poland’s recent 4-0 defeat of Israel.

During a Euro 2020 qualifying game on Monday, the Facebook account representing the Polish Football Association celebrated a goal using the word “pogrom;” a term whose dictionary definition describes it as, “an organized massacre of helpless people. specifically such a massacre of Jews.”

The Polish FA posted:

“Goooooal! This is already a pogrom! We are beating Israel 4-0!”

As Ben Cohen writes in the Algemeiner (a media outlet which covers the Middle East and issues involving Israel and Jewish people internationally):

The word ‘pogrom’ — derived from the Russian verb ‘to destroy’ — emerged in the late nineteenth century to describe the systematic explosions of mass violence targeting Jewish communities throughout Russia and Eastern Europe. Several pogroms took place on Polish territory from the 1880s onward, including what many historians say is the last such event to have occurred on European soil: the massacre of more than 40 Jews, many of whom had recently been liberated from Nazi concentration camps, in Kielce in July 1946.

Jakub Kwiatkowski, a spokesman for the Polish Football Association, did not necessarily apologize for use of the term. Instead, he called the Facebook post’s use of the word pogrom as, “awkward.”

“Maybe in this match, [the word ‘pogrom’] was awkwardly used, because as you can see it raises unnecessary emotions, but that is in no way what we wanted,” Kwiatkowski said.

According to the Times of Israel:

In English-language media, the word pogrom, which began appearing in Russian in the late 19th century, is closely associated with anti-Semitic violence.

However, in Poland and elsewhere, it is often used to describe also other forms of bloodshed, including the so-called Galician Slaughter, or uprising of 1846. In it, Polish peasants killed hundreds of non-Jewish noblemen.

That violent episode is characterized as a pogrom in the Polish Szkolnictwo learning portal, among other resources.

Relations between Poland and Israel have suffered since the introduction of a law in Poland last year making it illegal to blame the Polish nation for Nazi crimes. It triggered a crisis with Israel, which argued it limits research and free speech about the Holocaust.

As a result of these tensions, political leaders in Israel and Poland have sparred over a variety of issues. Including the issue of returning property stolen from Polish Jews during and after the genocide, the Times of Israel reports.

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn

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