Anti-Semitic graffiti is so common in Poland that it hardly makes the news, except maybe when it’s on Holocaust sites or Jewish cemeteries.
But huge philo-Semitic slogans painted in the national colors and confessing a sense of loss over the destruction of Polish Jewry in the Holocaust are somewhat more remarkable. Which is why Polish media is abuzz this week with reports about a graffito reading “I miss you, Jew” that an artist painted on a main street in Lodz.
In April, in the Warsaw neighborhood of Powiśle, unidentified parties blacked out the word “Jew” in Betlejewski’s graffiti, prompting him to call on fans to “counter hatred” by continuing to write the word on the wall every time it gets blacked out. Though he had permission from the owners of that wall, he has in the past had legal problems over his “I miss you, Jew” inscriptions, which municipalities saw as vandalism.
“I want to reclaim the word ‘Jew,’ snatch it from anti-Semites, who are in this country are the only ones using it freely,” the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper quoted Betlejewski as saying in 2010 about his campaign and the Jedwabne action especially. “I aim to build a platform used to express positive emotions towards the people known as the Jews.”