During the week covered by this review, we received 7 articles on the following subjects:
Pope and the Vatican / Christians and the Holocaust
Pope and the Vatican / Christians and the Holocaust
Hamodia, June 8, 2022
The Vatican has always defended Pius XII, who was the Pope during World War II, against claims that he remained silent as the Holocaust unfolded. They have insisted that he worked quietly behind the scenes to save lives during that time. David Kertzer, a professor of anthropology and Italian studies at Brown University, published a new book, “The Pope at War,” suggesting that the Vatican was primarily saving Jews who had converted to Catholicism or were children of Catholic and Jewish parents. The book contains copies of documents from recently opened Vatican archives, attesting to frantic searches for baptismal certificates, lists of names of converts handed over by the Vatican to the German ambassador and heartfelt pleas from Catholics for the Pope to find relatives of Jewish descent. Kertzer suggests that due to fear for the church and for Catholics in German-occupied territories, Pius XII charted a paralyzingly cautious course to avoid conflict at all costs with the Nazis.
Yedioth Ahronoth, June 10, 2022
Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan met with Pope Francis for a rare private audience in the Vatican. At the meeting, the two discussed the importance of Holocaust research and remembrance in the Christian world. This meeting in the Vatican marks the first ever such encounter, after visits by the past three popes to Yad Vashem, attesting to the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people. This private audience with Pope Francis focused on ways to bolster collaborative activities between Yad Vashem and the Vatican in areas of Holocaust remembrance, education and documentation, and on the efforts to fight anti-Semitism and racism worldwide.
Hashavua Badarom, June 3, 2022; Ma Nishma, June 3, 2022
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) distributed gift baskets for Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, to about 1,000 elderly Israelis around the country. According to IFCJ, the baskets were distributed as part of a larger program to help Holocaust survivors over the age of 80 celebrate the holidays in dignity and friendship. In Netivot, a southern town known for its religious atmosphere, the volunteers received a traditional blessing from the delighted elderly recipients, who expressed their gratitude, not only for the nourishment offered, but also for the companionship and care.
Makor Rishon, June 10, 2022
This article spoke of the astounding achievements of “Afrikan”, an Israeli non-profit organization that helps Tanzanians develop basic infrastructure and improve educational conditions within their villages. One of those achievements was converting a dilapidated school in the Makosa village, in the heart of the Usambara Mountains in northeastern Tanzania, into a joyful place for the local children, who also learned to sing some Hebrew songs. Most of the locals are Muslims, and the rest are Christians, although religion is not an issue here, according to Makosa’s Head of Council, Elya Masumba, who is a Christian and a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “My mother was a teacher,” he recalled, “and so at least, I got to have a little bread bun during recess… It’s hard to learn on an empty stomach, and this is why the students’ achievements in this area are low.” The refurbished school, and the ties being established between this small community and the volunteers from Afrikan, give hope for a better future for all involved.
Hamodia, June 10, 2022
This article was an opinion piece, written 40 years after “The Repressed War” in Lebanon, which began as a “limited operation” meant to “secure the peace in the Galilee,” but became a “hard and bloody war, with close to 1,000 killed, lasting 18 years and earning the dubious title, ‘The Longest War.’” According to the article, failure was inevitable, and Israel entered Lebanon knowing that, but unwittingly following a dream of a Christian controlled Lebanon, which would be the second Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, after Egypt. The article claimed that not only were Israel’s expectations regarding the ability of the Christian militias in Lebanon to provide adequate assistance highly exaggerated, but in fact, the Christians ended up turning against Israel and supporting the Palestinian narrative.
Yedioth Ahronoth, June 12, 2022
This article was an opinion piece regarding Iqrit and Biram, two Palestinian Christian villages seized by IDF during the War of Independence in 1948. All of the residents had to flee to Lebanon or to the Israeli village of Rameh, and, despite the promise that they would be allowed to return in two weeks’ time, the villagers were never allowed to return. The article maintained that Israel’s behavior is atrocious, since the villagers never objected to the Israeli occupation. In fact, when the IDF entered Iqrit, the local Greek Orthodox priest welcomed the soldiers with a Bible in his hand, calling to them in Hebrew, “Welcome, children of Israel!” But somewhere along the way, their cause got mixed up with “the right of return” of Palestinians in general. The article expressed an urgent need to right this injustice, and to give these humble people the home that they justly deserve.