May 17, 2019 / 5:00 PM / 8 days ago

Polish president condemns 'chaunivism and hate' in Israeli spitting incident

FILE PHOTO: President of Poland Andrzej Duda speaks during a news conference after the Brdo-Brijuni Process Leaders' Meeting in Tirana, Albania May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Florion Goga/File Photo

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s President condemned “chauvinism and hate through a nationalist lens” in a letter to Israel’s president published on Friday, after a man spat on Poland’s ambassador to Israel earlier this week.

The incident in Tel Aviv on Tuesday has already drawn condemnation from the Polish government at a time of rising tensions between the two countries.

“These sorts of positions need to be condemned, and harshly punished,” Poland’s President Andrzej Duda wrote in the letter published on his website, adding that he would condemn any anti-Semitic behaviour in Poland.

“I am counting on it that Israeli leaders will do their best to clarify and fairly judge the recent incident.”

The suspect in the incident, Erik Lederman, was indicted for assault and criminal threats on Thursday after police said he spat at Ambassador Marek Magierowski while he sat in his car. The counts carry a maximum of five years’ jail in Israel.

Lederman, 65, has apologised, saying the car had honked at him and that he had not known the ambassador was inside.

Lederman said he had come to the embassy to inquire about Polish restitution for his family, which had been through the Holocaust, and had been turned away. He said an embassy employee used an anti-Semitic slur while he was there.

Magierowski has denied that any embassy staff used inappropriate behaviour or language.

Polish-Israeli relations have deteriorated in recent months over accusations that Warsaw’s nationalist PiS government has tolerated a revival of anti-Semitic behaviour, a charge it denies.

Reporting by Joanna Plucinska; Editing by Frances Kerry

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