(JTA) — A Jewish group’s appeal led hundreds of radio listeners to provide information about mass graves and burial sites of Jews to a Catholic radio station that has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism.
Some 300 calls have been received by the call center at Poland’s Radio Maryja with information about sites of mass executions of Jews, stolen tombstones and unknown hiding places of Jews during the Holocaust, according to the From the Depths group, which made the appeal for information last week and again Wednesday on Radio Maryja.
The hosting at Radio Maryja’s studios of Jonny Daniels, the London-born Israeli Jew who founded the From the Depths group in 2013, follows a controversy over a visit last year by the station’s director, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, to the Israeli Embassy in Warsaw.
Rydzyk spoke there with Ambassador Anna Azari in a meeting that liberal watchdog groups said was inappropriate in light of accusations that Radio Maryja and Rydzyk personally promote anti-Semitic hate speech.
According to a U.S. State Department report from 2008, “Radio Maryja is one of Europe’s most blatantly anti-Semitic media venues.” A Council of Europe report stated that Radio Maryja has been “openly inciting to anti-Semitism for several years.”
In July 2007, Rydzyk was recorded making “a number of anti-Semitic slurs,” the report also stated. Rydzyk said Jews were pushing the Polish government to pay exorbitant private property restitution claims, and that Poland’s president was “in the pocket of the Jewish lobby,” according to the report.
Daniels disagrees with individuals and groups that believe this background should preclude cooperation by Jewish groups with Radio Maryja.
“More often than not this so-called Polish anti-Semitism is based on a lack of knowledge and openness,” Daniels said.
He was interviewed on Radio Maryja, which has millions of listeners, for the first at the end of 2016. Daniels’ group has received some 200 emails and phone calls with information on execution and burial sites, which the group attempts to preserve.
In a statement, Rydzyk claimed the airing of content that is deemed anti-Semitic by his radio station represents its commitment to free speech.
“After 50 years of communism, our radio is the only live radio in Poland where whoever wants can call and be put on air, every opinion is welcome. This creates an honesty and openness,” he said. “Sometimes there are controversial opinions, but we still let people talk.”