Homophobic party mired in election anti-Semitism row

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A minor political party notorious for its opposition to gay rights has been roundly condemned for an election advertisement branded as anti-Semitic.

Polish voters go to the polls this Sunday to elect both houses of parliament, the 460-member Sejm and the 100-member Senate.

The League of Polish Families, until recently in coalition government, criticised Polish involvement with the Iraq war in the TV advert.

It showed pictures of the conflict followed by images of President Lech Kaczynski visiting President Bush and the Western Wall in Jerusalem with the captions “Our allies” and “They put us in the line of attack.”

A voiceover then states: “It is our nation that is going to fall victim. Let the nation decide.”

900 Polish troops are currently in Iraq.

Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, told AP:

“You see the tanks, you feel bad, you see people being blown up, you feel bad, you see President Kaczynski at the Wall, you feel bad.

“Now the question is why should someone feel bad about President Kaczynski being at the Western Wall? What is negative about the president of the country visiting a holy site?”

The League of Polish Families denied they are targeting Israel or being anti-Semitic, but the publicity must be welcome to a party polling considerably less than the 5% required to win seats in Parliament.

While in government League party leader Roman Giertych was deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister.

Earlier this year he caused outrage at a meeting of EU education ministers when he openly criticised the so-called “homosexual propaganda” in schools and suggested a EU-wide ban.

He was reported to want to “prohibit the promotion of homosexuality and other deviance.”

His father, Maciej, 70, an MEP for the League of Polish Families, has been censured by the European Parliament for anti-Semitism.

It was the first time a rule that provides for penalties against MEPs for “exceptionally serious” violations of the Parliament’s principles of mutual respect had been used.

He published a booklet last month with the EU logo on it in which he asserted that Jews are biologically different from other people and that they “prefer to voluntarily live separately from the communities which surround them.”

He believes that Jews should not be allowed to live in Europe.

Now the League of Polish Families, who saw none of their proposed homophobic legislation enacted, look unlikely to even sit in the Polish Parliament.

Their coalition partners, the Justice and Law party, are also likely to lose power. A TNS OPB poll recently put them on 32%.

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Zaczynski cannot return to office unless he goes into coalition with Left and Democrats, a new alliance of former Communists and former dissidents.

Left and Democrats have seemed to rule out a coalition with Civic Platform, who are leading the polls with 46%.

Civic Platform’s right-wing economic policies, such as a flat tax rate, do not appeal to LD, and on social issues they are as conservative as Justice and Law, opposing gay rights and abortion.

The leader of Left and Democrats, who are polling 11%, is former President of Poland Aleksander Kwasniewski. Asked in a TV debate about a coalition with Civic Platform, he said:

“If we made a list of differences on social and economic issues, then it would be very hard to imagine such a coalition. Such a coalition is not possible.”