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Drowning out jeers, Polish soccer fans applaud Israeli anthem

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(JTA) — Thousands of Polish soccer fans attending a match in Warsaw between their national team and Israel’s applauded during the playing of the Jewish state’s anthem.

“Hatikvah” was played just before “Mazurek Dąbrowskiego” on Tuesday ahead of the match, which ended with Poland winning 4-0. When some fans began whistling during the playing of the Israeli anthem, the predominantly Polish crowd responded with applause that drowned out the whistling, the Israel Football Association wrote on Twitter.

“Thank you for an inspiring sporting spectacle. See you in Jerusalem,” a spokesperson for the Israeli association wrote on Twitter.

The Euro qualifiers match came at a sensitive time for Polish-Israeli relations, which have suffered over the past year as politicians from both countries made provocative statements about Holocaust-era complicity and restitution.

Stewards and security guards took extraordinary precautions to prevent the eruption of violence during the match, which ended without incident.

On its Facebook page, the Polish Football Association, or PZPN, characterized its victory as a “pogrom,” drawing protests. The Russian-language word, which to many harks back to anti-Semitic violence but in Poland is sometimes used to describe major defeats in sports, was removed from the Polish club’s Facebook post.

In Poland and elsewhere, the word is used to describe also other forms of bloodshed, including the so-called Galician Slaughter, or uprising of 1846, in which Polish peasants killed hundreds of non-Jewish noblemen. The episode is characterized as a pogrom in the Polish Szkolnictwo learning portal, among other resources.