Polish MP with far-right tendencies employs fire extinguisher to extinguish Hanukah candles

Rabbi says attack with anti-Jewish motives, just hours after Donald Tusk promised to reform Poland, inspired support for the Jewish community
A Polish MP from the far-right has interfered with the Hanukah menorah lit in Poland’s parliament, interrupting proceedings before a vote of confidence in the new government.
Grzegorz Braun, a fringe far-right MP, was seen on TV using a fire extinguisher on the menorah. The area filled with haze. The parliament took a break to address the incident and Braun was suspended for the rest of the day.
Donald Tusk, whose new government won a vote of confidence on Tuesday, earlier gave a significant speech to parliament outlining his plans for office. He referred to the incident as “a disgrace”.
“This is unacceptable. This cannot happen again,” he said.
Rabbi Sholom Ber Stambler, who has been lighting the menorah in parliament for the past 17 years, described Braun as “an anti-Semite seeking attention”. However, he suggested that the stunt had actually resulted in the opposite intended effect.
“I’ve received numerous phone calls and messages from Polish MPs, people living in Poland; everyone shows solidarity, care, and apologizes for this,” said Ber Stambler in a phone interview.
Ber Stambler mentioned that he was in the next room when Braun carried out the attack, but his children were still near the menorah and got foam from the fire extinguisher in their mouths.
“He wanted to ruin a very positive atmosphere of tolerance and freedom of religion,” said Ber Stambler, who belongs to the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. “We’ve been doing this for 17 years, and… every time it was easy to organize and MPs from different parties would join and show respect,” he added.
When asked immediately after the incident if he felt ashamed, Braun responded: “Those who engage in acts of satanic worship should be ashamed.” He left the chamber, shaking hands with other far-right lawmakers.
The parliament speaker, Szymon Hołownia, condemned Braun’s actions.
“As long as I am the speaker of parliament, there will be no tolerance for racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism…” Hołownia told reporters.
Israel’s ambassador to Poland, Yacov Livne, wrote on X: “SHAME. A Polish parliament member just did this. Few minutes after we celebrated Chanukah there.”
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Mark Brzezinski, the US ambassador to Poland, also criticized the attack on X: “Poland has experienced the atrocities of the Holocaust, and this disgusting act of hatred reminds us why we must remain vigilant and fight anti-Semitism every minute of every day,” he wrote.
Cardinal Grzegorz Ryś of Poland’s Catholic church expressed his shame for Braun’s actions in a statement. “[I] apologize to the entire Jewish community in Poland,” he wrote.
Braun, a pro-Russian member of the far-right Confederation party, has previously made false claims about a plot to make Poland “a Jewish state”. Earlier this year, he disrupted a planned lecture by Holocaust scholar Jan Grabowski, who has researched cases of Polish involvement in the Holocaust, resulting in the cancellation of the lecture.
Ber Stambler mentioned that Braun is both “anti-Semitic and anti-Polish” as he disrupted an important political day with the inauguration of the new government. “It was very important for me to relight the menorah afterward, which I did,” he added.

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