Friday, February 25, 2011

Week in review…

Trouble in the Middle East continued to dominate headlines the world over for a week that saw the Polish political fracas touch softer issues. The Civic Platform's two leading big wigs were reported to have made up, though possibly are not yet holding hands. Law and Justice (PiS) honcho Jaroslaw Kaczynski launched a blog and amazed readers by announcing he was gay (not really). And the government dropped previously planned reforms that might actually be construed as painful in favour of measures that accentuate the positive, especially the key mission of allowing beer to be sold at football stadiums. Hurrah!

In an equally positive but more serious tone, the Economist's eye returns to Poland this past week to look at the country's chief rabbi and the improving but still precarious position of Jews in society. An amazing detail is the fact that Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich had been invited by President Lech Kaczynski to commemorate the Katyn massacres in Smolensk, Russia last April 10 but declined since the ceremonies were held on the Sabbath. Touched by an angel, indeed.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski travelled to Israel this past week for an official visit. Sikorski told the Israeli daily Haaretz something often forgotten when the situation of Jews and Poland is considered: the close Poland-Israel relations. "We feel solidarity with both people of the Holy Land who have a right to live in secure borders, but above all it was also the fact that because the Polish state was too weak in 1939 to stand up to Nazi Germany and to protect all of its citizens and Nazi Germany carried out the Holocaust on our own soil, against our will but in front of our eyes," Sikorski said.

Sikorski's wife Anna Applebaum gives me the perfect tie-in to the following question: what is the one sure way to curry favour with Poles? Write the following: "But on a recent trip [to Poland], I discovered a fascinating place whose history has several times changed the history of our world." Yes, the world! Yvonne Crittenden writes a very positive travelogue about Poland in which she notes that her daughter and Applebaum have recently written a Polish cookbook (here's hoping a few of the delicions Polish apple desserts got in there).

I'll close with a battle of the cute stories of the week. Entry one. Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny recently became the massive London-based football club's top keeper. Partially to celebrate, Szczesny will bring his grandfather to a match on Sunday at London's famed Wembley Stadium. This will be the first time the grandfather has ever left Poland. Ahhhhhhh.

Entry two touches on two of my favourite subjects: models and dogs. Young Ms. Natalia Strokowska, a Polish model, jetted off to India to do the only kind of proselytising I'm cool with: spreading the word of the humane treatment of dogs. Natalia and a friend helped tend to 50 dogs at one of Ahmedabad's animal foundations centres. In a Canada-cold week here in Poland, there's a couple of stories to warm your hearts.