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Poland’s embattled pro-democracy camp is courting Israeli voters

TJI Pick
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Poland’s embattled pro-democracy camp is courting Israeli voters

Published: 3 October 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Activists hope the many Israelis with Polish passports will vote in solidarity with another country struggling to protect democracy.

A right-wing coalition comes to power, pledging to reform the judiciary. Claiming to fight corruption and obsolete mentalities, it drafts laws to constrain and discipline Supreme Court justices, while taking control of the committee that appoints judges.

Protesters take to the streets, waving their national flags. The government stalls some of its legislation but returns to push it through once the demonstrations subside. A left-wing party has a senior member named Zandberg.

It's nearly impossible to avoid connecting Polish politics to Israel’s travails in 2023. This is no coincidence; Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Pawel Jablonski, said in March that government officials in Jerusalem had consulted with their Polish counterparts on Israel's judicial overhaul plan.

in addition to weakening the courts, Poland’s right-wing government has in recent years passed legislation to curtail the foreign media – including outlets from the US, a close ally, further restrict abortions and end Holocaust restitution.

While Israelis hope to stave off a Poland-type future, the Poles are about to make their own voices heard: the October 15 general election and a referendum on four topics.

The effects of the vote will be felt far and wide, says Mariusz Kalczewiak, a social and cultural historian of modern Eastern Europe and Latin America at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

“I believe they have this opportunity to influence not just Israeli politics, but politics in Poland where they or their families came from,” he says of Israelis who have obtained Polish citizenship in recent years. “Some of those people are reaching out to me themselves – they take this approach of, ‘Yeah, I’ve got this passport, I can influence something, and I can make good use of it.’ This is an expression of solidarity with a country that, like Israel, struggles to protect its democracy.”


How Poland’s embattled pro-democracy camp is courting Israeli voters (Haaretz)  

Photo: Donald Tusk, the leader of Poland's largest opposition grouping, in Leszno, western Poland, last week (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

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