JERUSALEM (JTA) — A 65-year-old Israeli man was arrested for accosting the Polish ambassador to Israel outside of the country’s embassy in Tel Aviv.
First reports of the altercation on Tuesday afternoon said that the ambassador, Marek Magierowski, was physically attacked, but police later told the Israeli media that the man spat at the ambassador.
The man was identified as Arik Lederman of Herzliya. A Tel Aviv court released him on his own recognizance.
Lederman issued an apology on Wednesday in which he said his family suffered during the Holocaust and that he was at the embassy to inquire about recovering property abandoned during the Holocaust, Ynet reported. He said the embassy guard called him a Jewish slur in Polish – “zydek,” meaning “yid” or “little Jew” — and was upset when he came across the ambassador on the street.
The incident comes in the days after Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki declared that his government will not pay compensation for property lost during World War II since, he said, Poles were the war’s major victim.
Morawiecki in a tweet in English called the altercation a “racist attack.” He also wrote “Poland strongly condemns this xenophobic act of aggression. Violence against diplomats or any other citizens should never be tolerated.”
Poland’s Foreign Ministry said it summoned the Israeli ambassador to Warsaw, Anna Azari, to explain what happened.
A Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court judge called the attack “contemptible” and “an embarrassment to the rest of Israel’s citizens,” The Times of Israel reported.
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