Poland: Confederation MP sprays Hanukkah candles with fire extinguisher, claims he was acting against ‘Satanic, Talmudic and racist triumphalism’

By Grzegorz Adamczyk
4 Min Read

Grzegorz Braun from the right-wing Confederation party was expelled from a session of parliament after using a fire extinguisher to put out Hanukkah candles that had been lit during a ceremony involving Polish-Jewish leaders and Israel’s ambassador.

After the incident, he defended his actions, stating: “In fact I am restoring normalcy and balance, putting an end to acts of Satanic, Talmudic and racist triumphalism.”

However, Braun was condemned across the rest of the political spectrum. As well as expelling him from the session of the parliament, the speaker has also announced that he will report Braun to prosecutors for committing a crime, according to Polish news outlet Wprost.

The incident took place amid a busy day in parliament. On Tuesday morning, the incoming prime minister, Donald Tusk, presented his government and its program, while the lower house, the Sejm, had subsequently been debating the issue ahead of a vote of confidence that Tusk won in the evening.

Proceedings in the house had to be suspended, however, after Braun approached a Menorah that had been lit in and then sprayed it with a fire extinguisher he had removed from a wall.

“There can be no place for the acts of this racist, tribal, wild Talmudic cult on the premises of the Sejm,” he declared, to which other MPs reacted with boos. “You are not aware of the message of this act innocently called Hanukkah,” he continued. “I am restoring a state of normality by putting an end to acts of Satanic, racist triumphalism, because that is the message of this festival.”

The speaker of the Sejm, Szymon Hołownia, then announced that he was excluding Braun from proceedings. Speaking to the media outside the chamber, Hołownia called Braun’s actions and words “scandalous.”

Hołownia is one of the leaders of Tusk’s incoming ruling coalition. Tusk himself called Braun’s actions “a disgrace” and “unacceptable.”

The scandal was also addressed by Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of Law and Justice (PiS). Kaczyński suggested that this incident is part of a broader trend of attacks on churches and funeral ceremonies, which he believes occurs monthly and is encouraged by the current parliamentary majority. He sees this pattern as a result of a permissive attitude towards such actions.

Piotr Gliński, a deputy leader of the outgoing ruling party (PiS), condemned Braun’s actions as “crossing a terrible line.”

Israel’s ambassador to Poland, Yacov Livne, shared a video of the incident and noted that it had taken place shortly after the lighting of the candles.

“Shame,” he wrote.

U.S. ambassador Mark Brzezinski said that the incident needs to be condemned most severely, as it was clearly anti-Semitic and an example of “vile hatred.”

Hołownia said that the Sejm’s leadership, known as the presidium, would meet to decide on a financial penalty for the right-wing MP.

“After determining the precise nature of Mr. Braun’s actions on the basis of recordings, an application against him will be submitted to the prosecutor’s office,” he added.

Later, after a meeting of the presidium, Hołownia announced that they had issued the maximum possible punishment, which was half of Braun’s parliamentary salary for a period of three months and his entire parliamentary allowance for six months.

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