Op-Ed: "The Vatican Against Israel": Review of New Meotti Book
Janet LevyThe writer, MBA, MSW, is an activist, world traveler, and freelance journalist...
"The Vatican Against Israel: J'Accuse", by Giulio Meotti, Mantua Books Ltd., 2013 204 pp., $22.00
With the election of Pope Francis this past March as the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church, hopes have run high for a much-needed turnaround in Jewish-Catholic relations that would finally extinguish centuries-old, Catholic anti-Semitism and its concerted efforts to sabotage the Jewish State.
Those hopes took shape when, as cardinal of Argentina, he maintained close ties with the local Jewish community, attended Rosh Hashanah services, co-hosted a Kristallnacht memorial ceremony, and was the first public figure to condemn the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires by the Islamic terrorist group, Hezbollah.
But the jury is still out on how the relationship will progress with the new papacy, especially in light of a recent meeting Pope Francis held with Malaysian politician, Anwar Ibrahim, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood (MB) operative and founder of the MB front organization, the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Ibrahim has kept alive charges of Islamophobia in the West and has close ties with Bosnian imam Mustafa Ceric, another Muslim Brotherhood member who himself is tied to controversial Egyptian Islamic theologian, Youssef Qaradawi, who has been banned from entering a number of Western countries because of numerous anti-Israel, anti-U.S. statements.
Pope Francis may indeed be struggling against the weight of the past. The Catholic Church has an extensive history of anti-Semitism beginning with a belief that the destruction of Judea by the Romans, the fall of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the Holy Temple in the first century signified rejection and punishment of the Jews by G-d.
The fall of Jerusalem, or “Deicide City”, is enshrined in Christian liturgy and teaches Christians that they have been substituted for the “broken branches” of the Jews and “grafted on the stem of the Covenant.”
Ostensibly a religion of “love and goodness,” Catholicism has harbored animosity and intense hatred for the Jews and been complicit, directly and indirectly, in many crimes and atrocities against them.
In his new book, "The Vatican Against Israel: J'Accuse", Giulio Meotti uses the famous title that publicist Emil Zola coined for his public revealing of the French anti-Semitism that destroyed the life of Alfred Dreyfus in the late nineteenth century.
Meotti explores the theological foundation for 1,700 years of Catholic enmity toward Jews that led to manifold persecutory actions and atrocities through the centuries and how it continues to play out in Church policy toward the Jewish State today.
Mr. Meotti explains how the Catholic Church has continued to undermine Jews through its politics, statements, and contemptuous relationship with the state of Israel. Since Israel’s founding in 1948, the Vatican has consistently worked against the best interests of the Jewish state and aided and abetted its enemies.
This extensive, historical Church enmity toward the Jews and the attendant atrocities have led to today’s shocking alliance with Islam and, even more surprisingly, has prevented the Church from aiding persecuted Christians throughout the Muslim world. By disavowing Jewish roots and forging a strategic Muslim-Christian alliance, the Church has embarked on a precarious path for the future of Christendom.
Furthermore, the Church’s adoption of the Muslim narrative on Palestine precludes the recognition of a very real problem jeopardizing the lives of thousands of Christians in majority Islamic nations.
The Church steadfastly ignores the reality behind the Muslim chant, “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people,” which scripturally links Jews and Christians as the infidel, “People of the Book,” making both targets for violence and repression. However, for Church leadership to admit their vulnerability in this regard would require them to grant legitimacy to the Jewish people in their ancestral land of Israel, abandon the idea of punishment for the deicide, and bear the Jews' ultimate insult, namely, failure to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Church and the Death of Jesus
In his book, Mr. Meotti explains that anti-Jewish sentiments were founded on Church pronouncements that Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus. He shows how, until very recently, the Church taught that Jewish history ended with the appearance of Christianity and that Jews were a cursed people who killed Jesus, rejected Christ’s gospel, and were destined to wander the earth for eternity.
Catholic religious leaders have taken the position that the Church constituted the “new Israel” and Jews were forever abandoned by G-d. It is this well-entrenched theological doctrine, he says, that resulted in banishment of Jews throughout Europe, ghettoization and marginalization of the Jewish community, levying of heavy fines on Jews, forced conversions, kidnapping of Jewish children to be raised as Christians, confiscation of Jewish property (including synagogues transformed into churches), and the torture and murder of Jewish people.
Mass anti-Jewish actions included the Crusades, the Inquisition, Russian pogroms, and ultimately the Holocaust, which annihilated one-third of world Jewry.
Meotti's book reveals that not only these actions, but the genocide that was the Holocaust were made possible by the fertile environment of anti-Semitism created over centuries by the Church.
The Church and World War II
In "The Vatican Against Israel", the author examines how the Church has continued to be a willing and eager partner in the destruction of the Jewish people in the modern era.
The Church helped promulgate the anti-Semitic hoax of a Jewish plan for global domination as set forth in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The first translation of this damaging blood libel was translated by Arab Christians and published by a periodical of the Catholic Community in Jerusalem in 1926.
When Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany, the Vatican was the first state to formally recognize the legitimacy of the Third Reich and it maintained diplomatic relations with the Nazi government through the very end of the war.
Mr. Meotti reports that during the Holocaust, the British envoy to the Holy See provided daily briefings on the Nazi atrocities. Meotti reveals that Pope Pius XII chose to remain silent and resisted many calls for help from the Jewish people. While Jews were being gassed throughout Europe, most Christian churches failed to respond. Some even collaborated with the Nazis.
Astonishingly, in 1943 at the height of the Jewish genocide, Pius XII reaffirmed in his encyclical, Mystici Corporis Christi, the supersession of Christianity over Judaism and the replacement of the Jewish Bible, which had been abolished, with the Christian Bible.
At the end of World War II, in the vilest disregard for the memory of millions who perished during the Nazi genocide, the Vatican sheltered from prosecution a number of Nazis, in effect, granting tacit approval for the actions of these Nazi butchers. War criminals, including Adolph Eichmann, Dr. Joseph Mengele, Klaus Barbie, Franz Stangl, and others fled through Italy with assistance from the Catholic network.
Mr. Meotti reports that Vatican support and admiration for the Nazis didn't end there. In 1994, Pope John Paul II conferred papal knighthood on documented Nazi war criminal Kurt Waldheim, who had gone on after World War II to become Secretary-General of the United Nations. The papal honor, given despite a well-known 1985 controversy over Waldheim’s Nazi past, was in effect spitting on the memory of Holocaust victims, survivors, and their descendants.
To further confer disgrace on its actions, the Vatican recognized Waldheim's “efforts for peace,” demonizing Israel for defending itself against Arab-Palestinian terrorism which had occurred during Waldheim’s tenure as Secretary-General. By welcoming Waldheim to the Vatican as an honored visitor, the Vatican was symbolically cleansing him of the stain of his Holocaust crimes and glorifying his work on behalf of the U.N. to destroy the Jewish State.
The Church and Creation of the Jewish State
In "The Vatican Against Israel", the author reveals how the Church initially fought against the British Mandate for Palestine that established Israel and, after its founding, demonized and delegitimized Israel’s existence. Even as Jews were being gassed during the Holocaust, the Church was consumed with stopping the creation of Israel and the return of Jews to their ancestral land, because this ran counter to Church theology that Jews were condemned to eternal homelessness for their crime of deicide almost 2,000 years earlier.
The Church stridently maintained the position that Zionism was anti-Christian and anti-Catholic and that the sole route to salvation was through conversion. The ultimate founding of the Jewish State was problematic for the Catholic Church because it invalidated the church’s replacement theology and its doctrine about the Jewish people – that all Jews for generations to come were to be cursed and punished for deicide. As late as 1904, Pope Pius X told Theodore Herzl, Zionism’s founder, that he would never approve the movement as “the Jews have not recognized our Lord.”
It was not until 1965, 1,700 years after the Church had condemned Jews for all eternity, that the Vatican issued Nostra Aetate, releasing the Jews of today from responsibility for the death of Christ. However, the document failed to apologize for past Christian anti-Semitism and did not validate Judaism or recognize the Jewish State, which by then had existed for 17 years.
The Church and Arab Muslims
As for political involvement in the Arab-Muslim war against Israel, Meotti describes how the Vatican made common cause with Arab-Palestinians, supporting their apocryphal claims to territory and even excusing acts of terrorism.
Pope John Paul II went so far as to publicly brand as an Israeli-initiated Shoah, what were actually falsified accounts of Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
Pope John Paul II granted several audiences to Yasser Arafat, the father of modern terrorism and the head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), who had ordered and carried out attacks against Jewish civilians and was seeking publicity and legitimacy on the world stage. While openly proclaiming hatred of the Jews and plans to annihilate Israel, Arafat and his henchman were granted respectability by the Catholic Church.
In 1974, the Vatican formally recognized the Palestinian Liberation Organization. It wasn't until 1993, almost 20 years later, that the Church recognized the State of Israel.
When PLO Chairman Arafat died in 2004, the Pope eulogized the terrorist as a great leader in this “hour of sadness” and spoke fondly of his closeness to the Arafat family.
Meanwhile, Church acceptance of Israel has been tepid at best. Every attempt is made to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State and support the Arab-Palestinian narrative even following scores of suicide bombings and tens of thousands of rocket attacks on Israeli land. The Church advances the view that Palestinian violence is a justifiable reaction to “oppression and humiliation” by the Israelis.
Never mentioned are the openly stated goals of Hamas and Hezbollah to destroy the Jewish state. No Vatican condemnations have been made for over 11,000 rocket attacks that have murdered and maimed hundreds of Israeli civilians. Israel's attempts to defend itself have been characterized as acts of aggression.
In 2002, at the height of the Intifada, the Church condoned and legitimized Palestinian terrorism by terming the attacks against Israel as a “cry for justice.” At a pro-Palestinian protest parade in Rome in 2002, Archbishop Capucci, who had used his Vatican immunity in the past to smuggle arms and explosives to Fatah terrorists, defended suicide bombers and stated, “Greetings to the sons of the Intifada and to the martyrs who go and fight as if they were going to a party. . . . We want our land, or we will die with dignity . . . Intifada till victory.” No criticism or repercussions were forthcoming from the Vatican.
In addition to the above, Meotti lists a multitude of Catholic NGOs such as Trocaire, Pax Christi, Cordaid, and Caritas which legitimate terrorist activities and demonize Israel through boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) campaigns. The NGOs also compare Zionism to Nazism and stage events in which Israel's security barriers, which have saved Jewish lives, are labeled as “apartheid walls.”
Even today, many Vatican Christian pilgrimage and tourist tour maps fail to mention Israel. Instead, the area is labeled “Holy Land” or “Palestine.” The Church's anti-Israel propaganda is intensified by tours that are purposely designed to cast the Jewish state in a negative light. Palestinian guides focus exclusively on controlled visits to the Palestinian territories and instill hatred of Israel by skewing the narrative and insuring that visitors leave ignorant of the true nature of the Jewish State, the only democracy in the region.
Meotti , in this excellent account of Vatican history, prophesies that the Church’s actions toward the Jews and Israel will result in tragic consequences for both Jews and Christians. By attacking Israel and resisting significant ties with Jews and the Jewish state in favor of a deadly Christian-Muslim alliance, the Church is sowing the seeds of its own demise. The future for Christians is glaringly spelled out by the drastically diminished populations of Bethlehem, Ramallah, Gaza, and the 'West Bank'", where Christians are used as human shields and Christian homes serve as rocket launch sites.
Throughout Muslim countries in the Middle East, Christians are being massacred and forced out of the land. The bombing of Christian shops, schools, and churches, and the torture and murder of priests has become almost daily fare, he shows.
This is the future that awaits the Church and its Christian followers if they persist in aligning with Muslims and fail to overcome their historic and current anti-Semitic acts.