A Direct Order from Germany
Germans owners of Forbes Poland closed down their journalist’s investigation into financially questionable activities in Poland when the targets of the inquiry complained that they were the victims of anti-semitism. The Polish Jewish leaders never directly responded with an audit to charges over the mishandling of the Jewish community’s funds. American Jewish leaders expressed no curiosity over the disappearance of millions but joined in a chorus of accusations charging anti-semitism by a Polish journalist and an Israeli journalist.
Wojtek Surmacz is the investigative journalist who published the September 2013 Forbes Poland story Kaddish for a Million Bucks. Veteran Israeli journalist for Ma’ariv, Nissan Tsur contributed to the article. Together the reporters focused on the disappearance of at least $100 million dollars of proceeds from real estate sales of pre-World War II Jewish property in Poland which included synagogues, schools, mikvehs, hospitals, cemeteries. The article claimed that cemeteries were sold with the approval of Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich. The estimated value of remaining public Jewish property in Poland is in excess of $250 million dollars.
The Polish Jewish community’s leaders Piotr Kadlicik, Rabbi Michael Schudrich and others named in the article did not offer an audit or an explanation of their financial dealings but rather they mobilized leaders of Jewish organizations to claim anti-semitism.
Two months after the initial story the German owners of Forbes Poland disavowed the story. They abandoned their journalists and the principles of freedom of the press in favor of a white wash. The astonishing erasure by the German owners of Forbes Poland was answered by Forbes America who called the piece “good professional journalism.” The journalistic integrity is the subject of most of the articles translated from Polish (see documents below). Forbes Poland editors were ordered to end their investigation led by Mr. Wojtek Surmacz and Mr. Nissan Tsur because the owners claimed their higher loyalty was to fighting anti-semitism.
The original article Kaddish for a Million Bucks was awarded the prestigious “Watergate” prize by the Polish Journalist Association. Andrzej Skworz, chief editor of Press, the equivalent of the Columbia Journalism Review, wrote about the fear that journalists like Wojtek Surmacz face in reporting on Jewish matters. Below are translations from Polish journalists of articles explaining how Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Piotr Kadlicik, Abe Foxman, Ron Lauder, Rabbi Walter Homulka, and others sought the withdrawal of the original story by branding both authors as anti-semitic. Israeli co-author Nissan Tsur whose grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz was outraged. The charge of anti-semitism distracted many Western Jewish audiences from the substance of the story which was about financial irregularities.
In the interviews and articles translated below the Polish journalists wrote to express their admiration for the integrity of the journalists’ efforts. Most of the American Jewish press remained silent except for three articles that called for a broad investigation.
Three articles appeared in the American Jewish press but so far little reaction from the organized Jewish community.
- Jan Jaben – Eilon, EJewish Philanthropy Posted February 11, 2014
Like the Energizer Bunny, “A Million Dollar Kaddish” Expose Keeps On Going
- Rob Eshman, Editor of the Jewish Journal, October 16, 2013
Judaism in Poland: It’s Warsaw, Jake
- Jan Jaben – Eilon, EJewish Philanthropy posted September 23, 2013
Are Jewish Communal Funds in Poland Being Mishandled?
Mr. Surmazc can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Supporting Documents –
Forbes at the Wailing Wall
Who’s the anti-Semite now?
In the Name of Taboo
The Conscience of the Community
Unacceptable censorship of the press!
Wojciech Surmacz: Brief Curriculum Vitae
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