IN 2014 Evan Alberhasky travelled to Poland from Jerusalem to learn about his Jewish ancestral roots. In the taxi to the city of Krakow, he was greeted by graffiti declaring Anty Jude (“Anti Jews”). He saw crossed-out Jewish stars and the words Żydzi do gazu (“Jews to the gas”) sprayed on the side of a building. Then he came across something more perplexing: graffiti reading Jude Gang (“Jewish Gang”). Like many visitors, Mr Alberhasky was startled by what he saw as blatant anti-Semitism.
“It’s quite difficult for foreigners to understand the graffiti, especially when they’re on their way to [visiting]Auschwitz,” says Rafał Pankowski, a professor at Collegium Civitas and a co-founder of an anti-racist NGO called Nigdy Więcej (Never Again). Yet most locals don’t see the graffiti as hate speech, he explains. Rather, they classify it as a relatively benign byproduct of something else: football hooliganism.