ADL: Vatican Boycott Of Israel Holocaust Memorial Day "Inappropriate, Insulting"

Pope John Paul II greeted a delegation from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to the Vatican in 2004 with a prayer for an end to racism and assurances that the "close bonds of friendship" between Catholics and Jews would continue. Relations between the ADL, Israel and the Vatican had been improving.

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem --- April 14 ..... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in an honest, open and harsh criticism of the Vatican has called the decision by the Vatican ambassador to Israel to boycott the Holocaust memorial services at Yad Vashem "inappropriate and insulting."

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) repeated its long-standing call for the Vatican to open its wartime archives so that the facts concerning the wartime actions of Pope Pius XII may finally be brought to light.

Archbishop Antonio Franco, the Vatican's ambassador to Israel, has made the unprecedented announcement that he will boycott the April 16 memorial events at Yad Vashem, Israel's national memorial to the Holocaust, in protest of a photo caption in an exhibit that seemingly charges Pope Pius XII with failing to save Jews during the Holocaust.

"While we understand Archbishop Franco's displeasure about the photo caption, his decision to boycott the entire Holocaust Memorial Day ceremonies is unnecessarily insulting and unbecoming," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. "The photo caption may be inappropriate and too judgmental, but it does not justify the Vatican's refusal to participate in Israel's national observation of Holocaust Memorial Day."

Mr. Foxman said the episode served as yet another reminder of the need for the Vatican to declassify all archival materials covering the period of the rise of the Third Reich in Germany and World War II, "so that legitimate independent scholars and historians can study and analyze them and help us to finally learn the facts concerning Pope Pius XII and his actions vis-a`-vis Jews during the Holocaust.

"Without the public release and analysis of the Vatican's wartime archives, the questions about Pope Pius XII will remain unresolved," said Mr. Foxman. "These records have special significance for Holocaust survivors and their families. We strongly urge the Vatican to make public access to the archives their highest priority."

In 1998, the Vatican apologized to Jews on behalf of the entire Roman Catholic community, for failing to speak out against the Nazi holocaust during World War Two.

In his letter accompanying the apology, Pope John Paul said the holocaust remained an indelible stain on the 20th century. Cardinal Edward Cassidy, Head of the Vatican Commission, says it is an act of repentance.
The Head of the Vatican Commission, Cardinal Edward Cassidy, said the Vatican's statement amounted to an act of repentance as well as an apology.

The document asks whether persecution was made easier because some Christians held anti-Jewish prejudices.

But it also declares that many people were unaware of Hitler's so-called "final solution".
Pope John Paul has said he hopes the apology will help to heal the wounds of past injustices and misunderstandings between Christians and Jews. But the document made no criticism of the Pope of the time, Pius XII, who has been accused by the Jews of pro-German tendencies.

The Vatican mentions that Pius XII saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives himself or through his representatives.

But the document fails to explain why Pope Pius never took sides during World War Two by speaking out against the holocaust while it was actually taking place. The Vatican has always maintained he did everything he could behind the scenes to stop the slaughter.

In the document, the Vatican asks all Christians to meditate upon the catastrophe. The apology ends by warning that the seeds of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism must never again be allowed to take root.

The US Jewish community voiced disappointment at the Vatican's statement back in 1998 and is expressing outrage today regarding the boycott Israel Holocaust Memorial Day..

"We are very sad, very disappointed," said Rabbi Leon Klenicki, director of the Department of Interfaith Affairs of the Anti Defamation League.

"The document falls short of the mark, it's taking a step backward," Rabbi Klenicki said.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) issued a terse statement saying "those of us engaged in the dialogue have not yet succeeded."

Its statement "does not compare favorably with the French Catholic Bishops' Conference or the German Catholic Bishops' Conference," former WJC executive director Elan Steinberg said .

Catholic Bishops in France, Germany and Poland admitted they were at fault for their failure to react to Jewish persecution half a century ago. But it was not until 1965 that the Vatican eliminated the phrase "perfidious Jews" from the liturgy of a Holy Week service.

Since then, relations between the Holy See and the Jewish state have steadily improved.

Pope John Paul II has dedicated much of his near 20-year-old papacy to improving relations with Jews, whom he refers to as "older brothers," after centuries of animosity.

In another related Holocaust issue, the ADL, which had maintained good relations with the Vatican, recently urged Pope Benedict to help protect Jews from Iran, saying it and its president were examples of a new "global malignancy" of anti-Semitism that could bring another Holocaust.

Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League in the United States, made his comments in an address to the Pope during an audience at the Vatican.

"We hope you will declare the Church's commitment to do everything in its power to prevent another Holocaust against the Jewish people from any party of the globe, including Iran," Foxman told the Pope. "In this generation arises a country's leader who not only denies the Holocaust, the attempted genocide of the Jewish people but again threatens to wipe out Israel, the state of the Jewish people - the president of Iran," Foxman told the Pope.

Pope Pius XII - focuses on birds while ignoring Nazis?
The ADL is demanding that the Vatican open its wartime archives.

The State of Israel will mark the start of Holocaust Remembrance Day this evening in memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their helpers, as well as those who rose up in revolt against the Nazi barbarism, .

The annual state ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. at Yad Vashem.

The solemn hour-long opening event, which will be broadcast live on national television channels and radio, will be attended by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Acting President Dalia Itzik, as well as scores of dignitaries and ambassadors from around the world.

The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority said this would mark the first time in which a foreign emissary deliberately skipped the ceremony.

Yad Vashem officials said over the weekend that it might be worthwhile for the Vatican ambassador to do some soul-searching over whether he wants to use the memory of the Holocaust and its victims in this way.

The Foreign Ministry said that, "The state ceremony at Yad Vashem is designed to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, the most traumatic event in Jewish history and one of the most traumatic events in human history. As for participation in the ceremony, each person invited must act according to their own conscience."

Last year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guardsman, called Israel a "tumour" which must be "wiped off the map", provoking a diplomatic storm and stoking up fears about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Ahmadinejad also aired his doubts about the veracity of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed by the Nazis. His comments drew rebuke the world over, including from the Vatican at the time.

"Today, sadly, the profound evil of anti-Semitism has become a global malignancy, emanating with vicious, violent, virulent force from the Middle East and (from) fundamental Islam," Foxman said in his speech.

The ADL defines its mission as fighting hatred, extremism and terrorism. "Our goal is to make the world a safer place. Over the past few years, we have expanded our expertise and capabilities to confront a more dangerous world.
Our three priorities are to: gather, analyze and disseminate intelligence on extremism and hate activity, enhance law enforcement’s ability to combat serious threats and provide assistance, support and resources on security to the Jewish community.

Only a few days ago the ADL addressed racist attacks against American Afro-American saying that the suspension of US talk-show host Don Imus for racist and sexist remarks he made about the Rutgers women's basketball team was "a long time in coming," given his history of racist and anti-Semitic invective on his "Imus in the Morning" program. The suspension goes into effect next week.

"It is about time that Imus has finally been called to account for engaging in racism and intolerance on his program," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "He's gotten away with insensitive and stereotypical remarks about Blacks, Jews, women, homosexuals and others far too often. His suspension by CBS Radio and MSNBC was a long time in coming. Mr. Imus has to be held accountable, and must continue to be held accountable for his use of the public airwaves to promote racism and anti-Semitism."

Over the last several years, ADL has logged dozens of complaints about Mr. Imus' on-air remarks. The League had twice written to Mr. Imus - in December 2004 and December 2006 - to voice concern about stereotypical remarks he and his co-hosts had made on the air about Jews and others. The League never received any response from Mr. Imus or his "Imus in the Morning" team.

On November 30, 2006, Mr. Imus and his co-hosts referred to the "Jewish management at whoever we work for, CBS" whom he later described as "money grubbing bastards." That discussion resulted in a barrage of phone calls, letters and e-mails to ADL from listeners and viewers.

In December 2004, Mr. Imus referred to publishers of a new book called "The Christmas Thief" as "thieving Jews." Later on the same program, he attempted to apologize for that remark by saying (of thieving Jews), "I apologize … I realize that's redundant."

One and a half million children were murdered during the Holocaust.
Many were used (above) for barbaric "experiments".

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.






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