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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 04, 2003

The Pope and anti-Semitism: Some facts

Poor Glenn (Instapundit) got jumped upon when he noted that the Pope was pro-Palestinian etc . A fellow blogger challenged his position. Coming swifty to his side, and armed with some fact, Meyrl Yourish had this to say
Jesse Walker is all over Glenn on this issue. In his comments section, he keeps asking for facts, saying that Glenn isn't supplying any.

I've got a few facts for you, Jesse.

The Vatican did not establish full diplomatic relations with Israel until 1997, nearly fifty years after Israel's birth.

The Pope said that Israel was "desecrating Christian holy sites" when the IDF surrounded the Church of Nativity during its takeover by Palestinian terrorists, yet didn't mention later how the church was desecrated—by those selfsame terrorists.

When Kurt Waldheim's Nazi past was revealed, the Pope didn't let that stop him from honoring the man that no one else in the world would meet with.

The Vatican signed an accord with the Palestinians condemning any "unilateral action" on Jerusalem by Israel. No such accord was signed with Israel when Jordan ruled Jerusalem, threw out all the Jews, forbade Jews to visit the Western Wall, and descrated Jewish holy sites and graveyards.

Yeah, he issued a document condemning the Holocaust. But it took a long time, said some things that made you wonder if he really meant it, and didn't stop him from allowing crosses to spring up over Jewish remains in Auschwitz, or the beatification of Edith Stein, or other acts that show he doesn't really seem to give a damn about what Jews think.

Here's the thing: After centuries of bigotry, hostility, and murder of Jews by Catholics (among others), we tend to be extremely suspicious of the Church, and adopt a wait-and-see attitude. Some scholars argue that Christianity—particularly Catholicism—is the glue that held anti-Semitism together over the centuries. Even today, in the 21st century, we hear cries of "Christ-killers," and not just from laymen.

I am all for interfaith relationships. I especially would like to see the various Christian denominations get along with Jews. But you don't turn around centuries of institutionalized bigotry in a few years. Glenn Reynolds is right to call those actions anti-Semitic. No, Jesse, not every criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. You're right about that. And maybe the Pope didn't intend for any of the above to be seen as anti-Jewish or anti-Israel.

And yet... Embracing Kurt Waldheim? Giving him one of Catholicism's highest honors? Issuing statement after statement in support of the Palestinians while also issuing statements against Israeli actions?

And then there's that little thing about refusing diplomatic relations with Israel for the first 49 years of her existence. Huh. Go figure. It almost makes you think the Vatican has something against Jews.

*Update: It occurs to me that I need to add a postscript to my Catholic readers. I honestly don't think that most people, particularly Catholics, are anti-Semitic. Two of my closest friends were Polish Catholics. But actions are actions, and thus, the above post. permalink [note] the post has links to facts cited]