Rafał Pankowski (born 1976) is a Polish sociologist and political scientist. Pankowski is an associate professor at Collegium Civitas as well as the head of "Never Again" Association's East Europe Monitoring Center. He's also the deputy editor of Never Again's (Nigdy Wiecej) magazine. He is also involved in monitoring football hooliganism as part of UEFA's Fare network.
Pankowski's area of expertise include right-wing extremism and nationalism in Poland. He has offered commentary on topics like radical and far right, racism, hate speech, and extremism.
Pankowski studied economy, politics, and philosophy at Oxford university as an undergraduate, and received a MA in Political Science from Warsaw University. He received his PhD, as well as subsequent habilitation, in sociology of culture from Warsaw as well.
In 2010, Pankowski published The populist radical right in Poland: the patriots, covering the far-right in Poland. According to Richard Howitt, the book's credibility stems from a careful analysis of the "historical, economic and cultural factors" leading to the rise of Law and Justice (PiS) and its links to far-right movements and parties. In the book, Pankowski makes the case that Polish conservatives were mistaken in ending the Cordon sanitaire attitude versus the Polish far-right as that allowed the far-right movement to grow. Accepting Cas Mudde's definition of populism in The Popular Zeitgeist: "populism is an ideology which states that society splits up into two antagonistic groups- the rotten elite and the pure masses. Populists think that politics should represent the general will of the people", as a starting point, Pankowski elaborates on the differentiation of populist movements that are successful. Pankowski states that "populist movements were successful where they chimed effectively with the common-sense everyday culture". In Poland, this means relating to Catholicism.
In July 2018 he published a study in Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, titled The Resurgence of Antisemitic Discourse in Poland. In the study, Pankowski describes a "disturbing revival of antisemitism" in Poland following the passage of the Holocaust law that criminalized stating that the Polish state or nation was complicity in the Holocaust. The study states that the surge of antisemitic discourse in Poland took observers by surprise as relations between Poland and Israel were fruitful and cordial for many years. According to the study, while antisemitic discourse had been confined in the past to extreme media, at present such discourse in present in Polish mainstream media and in particular in state-controlled media. According to Pankowski prior to the Holocaust law "Muslims and foreigners had replaced Jews for many years as the main target for xenophobic hate", however in the aftermath of the law hate discourse reverted to traditional Jew hatred.
In 1996, Pankowski was one of the founders of Never Again (Nigdy Wiecej).
In 2012, ahead of UEFA Euro 2012, Never Again launched one of the most extensive anti-racist campaigns in football. However, in 2016 Pankowski said that "unfortunately the Polish FA has hindered rather than helped the work". According to Pankowski most fan groups in Poland exhibit an anti-Muslim and anti-refugee attitude, which is reinforced by a conservative political climate in Poland.
In a 2014 interview with Polygon, Pankowski analyzed the political associations of the development team of the Hatred video game, which according to Pankowski shows many connections to the radical right which are troubling.
In 2017, Pankowski condemned the sale in the Parliament of Poland of "lucky Jew" figurines which depict Jews with money, as "deeply rooted in negative stereotypes". Following Pankowski's condemnation, the figurines were removed from sale.
In 2018, Never Again convinced the Allegro site to halt sales of item bearing Nazi symbols, which Never Again report to Allegro. According to Pankowski "We can see that in our society and companies like Allegro there is a growing need to do something about the problem".
In March 2018, Pankowski gave a speech at the Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem in which he presented Polish antisemitic rhetoric following the Polish Holocaust law. Following the speech, Pankowski was threatened in online comments. The Israeli foreign ministry denounced the attacks, saying it was "very disturbed to see the anti-Semitic attacks on Rafal in Poland, following the tweet by the Adviser of Poland’s PM".
Awards and recognition
In 2017, he was awarded the Polish Ombudsman honorary badge. He also received the Polcul award for "pedagogical, journalistic and cultural activities for racial, ethnic and religious tolerance, as well as for building civil society and democracy in Poland".
- Rafał Pankowski, Nigdywiecej.org
- Dr. Rafal Pankowski speaker profile, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
- Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy, William Galston, Yale University Press, page 52
- PANKOWSKI RAFAŁ, PROFESSOR, civitas.edu.pl
- Centre monitors racism in Eastern Europe, UEFA, 11 October 2009
- World Cup 2018 win raises Russian racism fears, Guardian, 3 December 2010
- Crusaders in the crowd: Fighting Poland's right-wing football ultras, Deutsche Welle, 15 June 2016
- Extremists on Poland's national holiday "It's a shame", Der Spiegel, 11 Nov 2014, Christina Hebel
- Polish authorities accused of being slow to act after far-right activist bans Jews from his guesthouse, Telegraph, 27 November 2017
- Andrzej Lepper, scandal-plagued Polish populist, dies at 57, Washington Post, Vanessa Gera, 6 August 2011
- THE CONNECTION BETWEEN POLAND’S FAR-RIGHT MARCHERS AND TRUMP, Vice News, 13 November 2017
- EU elections 2014: the Polish party that wants to turn EC building in Brussels into brothel, Telegraph, 16 May 2014
- 60,000 joined a Polish nationalist march. Should Jews be worried?, JTA, 13 November 2017
- Polish man accused of racism after setting up kebab stand 'made by real Poles, not foreigners', Telegraph, 12 September 2016
- On the Way to Auschwitz, I Found ‘Heil Hitler’ Signs for Sale, New York Times, Alexandra S. Levine, 27 January 2019
- Poland 'Intimidating' U.S.-owned Broadcaster Over Expose on neo-Nazis, AP (Haaretz reprint), 25 Nov 2018
- POLAND CATHOLICS PRAY ALONG BORDER IN CONTROVERSIAL EVENT SEEN AS ANTI-MUSLIM, Newsweek, 7 October 2017
- 60,000 Join Far-Right March on Poland's Independence Day, NBC News (AP reprint), 12 November 2017
- NEO-NAZIS IN POLAND ARRESTED AFTER VIDEO SHOWED HITLER BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION, Newsweek, 23 Jan 2018
- Pankowski, Rafal. The populist radical right in Poland: the patriots. Routledge, 2010.
- The Populist Radical Right in Poland: the Patriots, Richard Howitt, New Statesman, 15 April 2010
- Bíró-Nagy, András, Gábor Győri, and Tibor Kadlót. "Populism, the new zeitgeist?." (2015).
- Pankowski, Rafał. "The Resurgence of Antisemitic Discourse in Poland." Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs 12.1 (2018): 21-37.
- STUDY: ‘SURGE’ IN POLISH ANTISEMITISM SINCE CONTROVERSIAL HOLOCAUST LAW, Jerusalem Post, Jeremy Sharon, 17 July
- Poland’s Holocaust law upends one activist’s decade of progress in interfaith relations, JTA, 6 March 2018
- Benedikter, Roland, and Dariusz Wojtaszyn. "Football Politics in Central Eastern Europe: A Symptom of Growing Anti-Europeanism and Anti-Globalization?." Geopolitics, History & International Relations 10.1 (2018).
- Hatred, free speech and one developer's connections with Poland's far right (correction), Polygon, Charlie Hall, 18 December 2014
- Polish parliament gift shop removes Jewish figurines from sale, The Art Newspaper, 15 December 2017
- Why ‘Lucky Jew’ imagery is so popular in Poland, Times of Israel (JTA reprint), 18 August 2018
- Nazi-inspired jewellery, trinkets wiped from auction site, Al-Jazeera, Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska, 29 July 2018
- Israel disturbed by Polish treatment of anti-racism activist, AP, 28 March 2018
- Polish historian says he was forced to switch jobs because of his Holocaust research, JC, 5 April 2018
- In Krakow, Jews celebrate their community’s ‘revival’ amid rising xenophobia, Times of Israel (JTA reprint), Cnaan Liphshiz, 28 April 2018
- Rafał Pankowski the laureate of the honorary badge of the RPO "For merits for the protection of human rights" (Polish), rpo.gov.pl, 25 September 2017
- HONORS FROM THE POLCUL FOUNDATION FOR LECTURERS AT COLLEGIUM CIVITAS, civitas.edu, 2017
- The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2018, Algemeiner Journal, 2018
- PROFESSOR RAFAŁ PANKOWSKI HONORED WITH THE PAUL EHRLICH-GUNTHER K. SCHWERIN HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD, Civitas, 2019
- Poland’s political divide widens more after mayor is slain, AP, Vanessa Gera, 2 February 2019