03 August 2012

ADL "Bearing Witness" Program

I would like to ask you a favor.  Please read the article "Bearing Witness to the Holocaust" on Jewish Exponent.

I will briefly quote a part of the article to give you an idea..

The middle school English and religion teacher at Saint Agnes School in West Chester also learned that helping Jews during that time period was punishable by death in Poland -- a fact that made her ashamed to have Polish ancestry.
"It was really hard to listen to," said Dunn, her voice thick with emotion. "They're my people and how could they be like that?"

Now, if you are as disturbed as I am at reading this, please read the letter I wrote:

"I am writing in regards to the article “Bearing Witness to the Holocaust”, July 25th, 2012 by Deborah Hirsch. I am letting you know I will also be forwarding this letter to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National and Philadelphia chapters, as well as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

After reading the article, I must express my disappointment and hurt, as a Pole living in the USA. Specifically, regarding the incorrect statement attributed to a teacher, Eileen Marie Dunn, “that helping Jews during that time period was punishable by death in Poland”.
The statement, and her following statements of horror, shock, and shame of being of Polish ancestry, essentially and strongly insinuate that the Polish government was responsible for the laws which forbade Poles from helping Jews.
This is completely untrue, and could be misconstrued as slanderous to the character of the Polish people. We all know, or else, should know by now, that the German Nazis occupied Poland during that time. That it was the German Nazis who passed and enforced that law, and many others which hurt Jews, Poles, and many others during that time period.
Whether Ms. Dunn believed this, and stated this, Jewish Exponent, as a news entity, has the responsibility to, either a. quote Ms. Dunn as saying such, and making a clear note following the statement that this is untrue and the actual facts, or, b. not quote Ms. Dunn at all. Because Jewish Exponent did no such thing, it comes across as though Jewish Exponent and ADL are presenting Poles as the incorrect perpetrators of this horrific crime. Which I presume, of course, was not in any way your intent.
Also, I call into question where Ms. Dunn learned this misinformation. Did she learn it from the ADL “Bearing Witness” program? Is ADL properly presenting the facts regarding this time period? I would presume that they would be, since any organization wishing to present classroom training and material to teachers bears responsibility to present correct, clear and complete information to the same teachers.
If the “Bearing Witness” program is incorrectly teaching that responsibility lies with the Poles and not the German Nazis, is the Archdiocese of Philadelphia aware that this is happening, since it is their teachers receiving this training? That their teachers are being told this misinformation, and then passing the guilt to their students, that Polish American students be raised in the school system feeling shame for what their grandparents and great-grandparents are, in fact, not guilty of?
As a Polish woman living in the USA, whose children also attend Catholic school under the Chicagoland Archdiocese, I am especially alarmed. Does this mean that teachers are being trained to present this incorrect blame to children such as mine? So that they may grow up feeling shame for their heritage because Poles are accused of something that every historian knows is the fault of the German Nazis and not the Poles?
Is this the aim? If so, I find it absolutely disturbing. Both the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the Poles whose land was occupied and used by German Nazis for evil intent deserve to have the truth be shared of their death and brutal abuse, as well as the truth of who was the perpetrator. Truth must not be distorted."

ADL's "Bearing Witness" program is a national program which is done in partnership with Catholic schools to teach more about the Holocaust.  In no way do I find anything wrong with that.  It's great, in fact.  My concern is that the article might be shining light on a flaw in the program, or perhaps there is no flaw but the article is incorrectly quoting someone, or who knows what.

If you would like to also write a letter to the Jewish Exponent editor regarding this matter, please do so. 

I will keep you up to date on this.

Na razie...

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