Jewish Council Commends FBI Director Comey of Forethought to Target Evil

NCYI President praised Director James Comey’s indictment of Polish collusion during the Holocaust, warning that it cannot, should not be ignored.

By Gedalyah Reback


Last week, FBI National Director James B. Comey wrote ahead of Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day that such evils can never be forgotten, lest we fall on the trope that we are doomed to repeat history.

FBI Director James B. Comey – Reuters

“I believe it is simply our duty to do that, and I believe this is truth no matter where you come from on a philosophical or religious spectrum. Our obligation is to refuse to let bad win, to refuse to let evil hold the field.”

These words are innocent, even powerful indications that Director Comey is the type of broad-thinking the FBI could use at the top. But in his indictment of evil, he would not excuse the deep civilian contribution to the Holocaust of certain countries like Poland, which has landed him squarely in the middle of a diplomatic dust-up between Poland and the United States.

“In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil,” Comey wrote in his April 16 Washington Post article.

Despite the American attempt to smooth over tensions, some people have commended the FBI Director for his statements, particularly the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI). NCYI President Farley Weiss came out with his own statement, saying, “The National Council of Young Israel applauds FBI Director Comey for his compelling and powerful denunciation of the unspeakable evil that was perpetrated during the Holocaust.”

Comey also announced that future recruits would have a mandatory visit to the United States National Holocaust Museum during their training, saying “Naturally, I want them to learn about abuse of authority on a breathtaking scale. But I want them to confront something more painful and more dangerous: I want them to see humanity and what we are capable of.”

“Director Comey’s decision to make the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum an integral part of his agents’ initiation into the Federal Bureau of Investigation so they could better comprehend the depths to which abhorrent people intent on spreading evil can sink,” says Weiss, “speaks volumes about his commitment to eradicating bigotry and eliminating hate.”

So does Young Israel believe that Poland has overreacted to the director’s comments and obscured the role of some Poles in the Holocaust?

“As time goes by, people are naturally inclined to want to try and rehabilitate their past and to atone for their previous transgressions,” says Aaron Troodler, a spokesperson for NCYI. “Although we are now seventy years removed from the Holocaust, the reality is that in Poland the Nazis found a fertile ground for their malevolence and they quickly capitalized on that in order to carry out unspeakable acts of hatred against Jews.”

Poland has had a long-standing policy to correct any prominent use of terminology like “Polish death camps” used by public figures. It is Poland’s position that even when the term is used as a geographic reference to the camp, it unintentionally implies Polish responsibility for them. However, this obscures another issue of civilian participation in the Holocaust.

Polish-Canadian historian Jan Grabowski has published several books on the subject, but has been considered persona non grata among his community in Canada and is unwelcome by most in Poland. He has researched both Polish collaboration and Polish massacres of Jews which may or may not have involved Poland’s Nazi oppressors.

What do you think should be part of the FBI’s incorporation of the Holocaust Museum into its training? Are there key points to teach to future agents that will make their work more efficient? More dedicated?

When asked if NCYI thought the museum visits would be important in making agents more efficient or dedicated in fighting crime, Troodler responded, “It is important to recognize and acknowledge that even in a country as free and secure as the United States, there are those who preach hate and have no compunction about acting on those philosophies against their fellow citizens.”

“Exposing FBI agents to the immense evil that can be waged from one human being to another is something that every agent should be aware of when they combat hate crimes; crimes that the American Jewish community has been subject to even today.”

With the rise of anti-Semitism and the threat of bigotry-fueled terrorism reaching American shores or hurting the country from the inside, Troodler said understanding that visceral hatred’s ability to undermine people’s security was critical for a watchful agent.

“Having the wherewithal to educate people about the dangers of bigotry and hate and possessing the ability to fight against history repeating itself are two of things that make this country great. Understanding history is a key component in determining how citizens and their governments respond to evil.”


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