Pro-Palestinian demonstrator is removed from Warsaw Ghetto Uprising commemoration in Poland

World News

(JR) — As dignitaries stood on stage in Warsaw to mark the 81st anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, a lone figure got up to join them: a man wearing a hoodie with the colors of the Palestinian flag.

The man placed flowers atop a pile assembled for the occasion, then moved to the side of the stage where he unfurled a large Palestinian flag and stood with his head down, according to an attendee at the event.

The protest featured just one participant and resolved without derailing the ceremony when police officers escorted him offstage. Still, it offered evidence of just how extensive and varied the settings for pro-Palestinian demonstrations have become since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7.

The annual ceremony in Warsaw takes place outside the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes, located in what was once the Warsaw Ghetto, where the Nazis imprisoned nearly half a million Jews, almost all whom were ultimately murdered. The monument memorializes the hundreds of ragtag, half-starved Jews who banded together in April 1943 to battle the Nazis — and held them off for nearly a month rather than surrender themselves and their brethren to the death camps. Ultimately, the uprising failed, but it remains the most famous symbol of resistance to the Nazis’ genocidal ambitions.

The gathering was smaller than last year, when leaders convened from all over the world for the 80th anniversary of the uprising. Still, it featured local dignitaries and representatives from foreign governments, who laid wreaths at the site, along with prayers by Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich.

This year’s ceremony also comes after a time of tension between the Polish and Israeli governments over the Israel-Hamas war, following the killing earlier this month of a Polish aid worker who was part of a World Central Kitchen convoy bombed by the Israeli army. After Israel’s ambassador to Poland rejected criticism, he was summoned by the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw for a formal reprimand. He subsequently issued an apology for the death of the worker, 25-year-old Damian Sobol.