Another sign of int’l isolation

Israel/Palestine
on 27 Comments

This (says Mark Wauck) looks like a kind of desperate attempt to break out of the increasing isolation… Reuters:

A leading Israeli official has praised Pope Pius XII for saving Jews during the Nazi occupation of Rome, a surprise twist in a long-standing controversy over the pontiff’s wartime role.

The comments by Mordechay Lewy, the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, were some of the warmest ever made by a Jewish official about Pius. Most have been very critical of his record.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

Other posts by .


Posted In:

27 Responses

  1. Kathleen
    June 25, 2011, 2:40 pm

    “Elan Steinberg, vice-president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, called Lewy’s comments unsustainable.

    “For any ambassador to make such specious comments is morally wrong. For the Israeli envoy to do so is particularly hurtful to Holocaust survivors who suffered grievously because of Pius’s silence,” Steinberg said in a statement.”

    Silence is complicity theme. Too bad Steinberg is not honorable enough to apply those same standards to the Palestinians

  2. Hostage
    June 25, 2011, 2:45 pm

    A leading Israeli official has praised Pope Pius XII for saving Jews during the Nazi occupation of Rome

    I’m dying to know what Yad L’Achim thinks about a report that a Pope was credited with “saving Jews” (aka destroying Jewish souls) during the Nazi occupation of Rome. I’m sure this confirms their deepest suspicions about the motives of the missionaries;-)

  3. yourstruly
    June 25, 2011, 2:51 pm

    what next? settler-entity officials praising inquisitor general dominican tomas de torquemada for his benevelence towards spanish jews and moslems?

    • Hostage
      June 25, 2011, 3:27 pm

      Why not? Here is a link about a Jewish scholar, Bernard Lewis, and his Neocon Jewish associates criticizing the pope because he apologized to Muslims for a holy war, which was also a massacre of the Jews. They claim it really wasn’t too bad. These same guys redefined “torture” because the old definition used to criticize Torquemada’s evangelical methods was inaccurate and counter-productive to obtaining honest testimony;-) The unreality behind the statements of the US and Israeli officials of late has put me into a very sarcastic mood. If you can pass this sort of crap off as the truth, just about anything is possible.

      • RoHa
        June 26, 2011, 11:00 pm

        Torquemada and the inquisition? No-one expects that.

        • Hostage
          June 27, 2011, 12:34 am

          Torquemada and the inquisition? No-one expects that.

          No one expected the Neocan Jewish elites to condone the Christian Crusades either – which was exactly my point. You can’t believe anything these people say one way or another. For example, what will the Israeli government position on the Armenian genocide be come this time next month? The government has already flip-flopped on that once before, and the horse trading over the flotilla report has both sides looking pretty silly.

  4. Proton Soup
    June 25, 2011, 3:04 pm

    i think some of this may reflect reciprocity of recent displays of friendship displayed by the catholic church. in particular, laying to rest the idea that “the jews” as a people are responsible for christ’s death, and removing from communion those catholics who cling to that notion.

    link to usccb.org
    His presentation highlighted the levels of authoritative teaching in the Church, to which are owed corresponding degrees of assent. Father Massa noted that some teachings on Jews and Judaism found in Nostra aetate, the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Non-Christian Religions, reaches the level of dogma or defined doctrine. “One cannot hold to the charge that the Jewish people, either in the first century or at any other time, are responsible for the death of Jesus (the so-called charge of deicide) without falling out of communion with the Catholic Church. It contradicts both Vatican II (1962-1965) and the Council of Trent (1548-1563), not to mention a proper reading of the New Testament,” Father Massa stated.

  5. Kathleen
    June 25, 2011, 3:43 pm

    link to huffingtonpost.com

    Ilan Grapel Detained: Egypt Will Hold Alleged Israeli Spy For 15 More Days

    Credible elections in Egypt
    link to theelders.org

  6. Keith
    June 25, 2011, 4:14 pm

    Zionists have a long history of establishing productive working relationships with anti-Semites when this is of benefit to the Zionist agenda.

  7. MHughes976
    June 25, 2011, 4:27 pm

    I would think that Lewy’s statements would indeed be unusual among Jewish historians but would they be so unusual among Israeli diplomats? Diplomats are supposed to smooth things over.

    • Shmuel
      June 25, 2011, 5:50 pm

      I would think that Lewy’s statements would indeed be unusual among Jewish historians but would they be so unusual among Israeli diplomats?

      I think you would be hard-pressed to find a historian (Jewish or otherwise) who could find fault with Lewy’s statement. The Church saved large numbers of Jews, in Rome and throughout Europe. Pius XII was certainly aware of this, and there is reason to believe that he actively encouraged it. He was certainly given credit by Jewish leaders, after the war (I have personally seen evidence of this in the Israel State Archives), for the heroic efforts of members of the Church to save Jews.

      The position of the Church (as represented e.g. by Fr. Peter Gumpel) is that things began to go sour (unjustly in their opinion) following the staging of Hochhuth’s The Deputy, in the early ’60s. Historians such as Robert Wistrich, representing the Jewish side in the dispute, have never claimed that Pius XII did not save Jews, but that he failed to take a clear, public, moral stand against the persecution and genocide of European Jews.

      Diplomats are another matter however. The looming beatification of Pius XII has been a thorn in the side of Israel-Vatican relations, which the Church would sincerely like to see resolved, but on which it cannot possibly compromise. I just wonder what quid Israel got for the quo of having its ambassador make a historically uncontroversial, but diplomatically significant statement in Pacelli’s favour.

      • Antidote
        June 26, 2011, 1:57 am

        Good comment, Shmuel. However, I don’t see anything particularly new regarding even the official/diplomatic (rather than historical) rejection of the ‘Hitler’s pope’ myth. There have been Pius-defenders among Zionists and Israeli politicians since 1948, quite despite the slanderous Pius-exhibit at Yad Vashem, which has become a disgrace mostly for Yad Vashem. From a 2009 article on ‘Pave the Way’-founder Gary Krupp:

        ” [Krupp] is proudly Jewish, a Zionist who, after a successful career fitting hospital suites with new imaging technologies, is spending his retirement battling to restore the reputation of a pontiff maligned as a Nazi sympathiser. Correcting this revision of history is a “Jewish issue”, argues Krupp, because Pius was a man who “in just one day hid 7,000 Jews from the Nazis” – nearly six times more than Oscar Schindler saved during the entire war.

        The Pave the Way Foundation, the organisation the Krupps founded in 2002 to help to remove non-theological obstacles between faiths, has identified the role of Pius as the biggest stumbling block in Catholic-Jewish relations for the last 46 years when in fact it should be a reason for closer unity.

        “Merry and I grew up hating Pius XII,” Krupp explained. “I did two years of personal research before we decided that we should tackle this project. With further research, I was 100 per cent convinced that my past impression of him was completely wrong. I was then angry because I was misled by those who call themselves historians.”

        He believes that Pius will eventually be exonerated. All most people know about him is that he was “Hitler’s Pope”, says Krupp: “But if you go to an average person with the information that we have found they can only come to one conclusion – that this guy was the greatest hero of World War Two. We can prove it. We have something on our side – documented proof – where the revisionists haven’t a scrap of paper to support their theories.”

        To find such proof the foundation has commissioned the German historian Michael Hesemann to search the Vatican archives opened two years ago by Pope Benedict XVI. These cover the period from 1922 to 1939, the years when Eugenio Pacelli served as nuncio to Bavaria and then as Pope Pius XI’s “Jew-loving” Secretary of State, as he was referred to by the Nazis.

        Krupp says he was surprised to learn that “literally none” of the “Monday-morning quarterbacks” who criticise Pius have visited the archives. Yet the same critics, he says, continue to wrongfully dismiss each new finding as either old or irrelevant as they “defend their theories at the expense of historical accuracy”.

        Some of the new evidence is hard to ignore, however. One piece, discovered in the diary of a Rome convent, revealed that Pius directly ordered the religious houses of Rome to hide the city’s Jews on October 16 1943, the same day his protest at their deportation was ignored.

        When I met Krupp he was buzzing about a separate project the foundation was due to begin in cataloguing the private archives of Fr Robert Graham, a Californian Jesuit who until his death in 1997 was considered to be the world’s leading expert on the wartime role of Pius.

        The collection of 25,000 documents contained photocopies of wartime papers from the Vatican’s Secret Archives which will not be released until 2013. “It’s as though the Vatican archives have opened as of today,” said Krupp. But after the project became public, permission to publicise the documents was denied.

        It would represent the second setback Krupp, 61, has suffered recently. Last September he sponsored a symposium on Pius in Rome. He invited Pius’s most trenchant critics to attend, but they not only refused but also then attacked the symposium as one-sided, which was “comical”, according to Krupp, because they were complaining about a situation of their own making.

        Pope Benedict used the symposium, however, to express his own conviction that, when “free from ideological prejudices”, Pius could be seen as a “noble pope” who “spared no effort in intervening” on behalf of the Jews, “either directly or through instructions given to other individuals or to institutions of the Catholic Church”. Those rabbis who attended the event went away convinced that Pius was one of the unsung heroes of the Holocaust, says Krupp.

        Not all Jews approve of what Krupp is doing. There is a substantial body of opposition among them to the beatification of Pius XII, leading to claims that Krupp does not represent the views of the Jewish mainstream and that he is something of a maverick. Yet he fits neatly into a long line of prominent Jews to defend Pius. These date to at least 1940 when Albert Einstein vigorously defended the Catholic Church as the only institution in Nazi Germany that “stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth”.

        Throughout that decade tributes to Pius came from Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president; Moshe Sharett, Israel’s first foreign minister, and Isaac Herzog, the chief rabbi of Israel. Pius granted an audience to 80 concentration camp survivors who wanted to thank him personally for helping to save lives. The chief rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, became a Catholic and took as his baptismal name Eugenio in tribute to the Pope. When Pius died in 1958 Golda Meir, Israel’s foreign minister and future prime minister, praised him for raising his voice “when fearful martyrdom came to our people”.

        Since the Sixties most of the evidence in defence of Pius has been unearthed by Jewish historians, most notably by Pinchas Lapide who used Yad Vashem’s records to show that the Church under Pius saved up to 850,000 lives – more than all the international agencies put together.

        Most recently, the American professor David Dalin, a rabbi, has used historical evidence to demonstrate that the attacks on Pius are ideologically motivated, largely emanating from “lapsed and angry Catholics” intent on damaging the papacy, and which, he argues, in reality amount to a form of Holocaust denial because they disparage the testimonies of survivors. Sir Martin Gilbert, the world’s leading authority on the Holocaust, is among those who believe Pius should be considered as a Righteous Gentile.

        In this light, the restoration of Pius’s reputation is an issue of truth and justice. But to Krupp it remains principally a Jewish issue because it has the potential to alienate his people from a billion Catholics whom they should consider as historic allies. “Today, with the dangers to the Jewish people and to the state of Israel, we need to do everything possible to eliminate these obstacles when they are simply not based on facts,” Krupp explained. “We really need every friend we can get.”

        In this respect his work is a deadly serious venture and is as much concerned with the future as the past. It should be seen by Christians and Jews alike as a mitzvah – a Jewish good deed. ”

        link to archive.catholicherald.co.uk

        • Shmuel
          June 26, 2011, 4:53 am

          I don’t see anything particularly new regarding even the official/diplomatic (rather than historical) rejection of the ‘Hitler’s pope’ myth.

          I wouldn’t say new, but a little unusual in recent years – certainly by an ambassador to the Holy See (and certainly in the age of Bibi/Lieberman’s “stand tall” diplomacy), who would not have been merely voicing a personal opinion. Maybe I live a little too close to the Vatican, but I suspect negotiations, a planned statement, and some sort of deal.

        • MHughes976
          June 26, 2011, 12:44 pm

          I take the points you make about the existence of a pro-Pius school of thought among Jewish historians. Is this really the prevailing view, though?
          My own knowledge of ‘Pius historiography’ and the substance of the arguments is very superficial, I don’t deny.
          A few years ago I glanced at Friedlander’s then-new book, which seemed to maintain the sternly negative school of thought about Pius – and Goldhagen (though some think very badly of him, too) might be mentioned as well. I also recall that there was some sort of highly publicised bad feeling, also quite recently, over opening the archives.
          Surely the very fact that there has been so much trouble over honours offered to Pius suggests that those popular historical writers who don’t honour P’s memory have not been swept aside in Jewish or even in wider popular opinion by an overwhelming, or even generally prevailing, pro-P academic consensus.
          If there really is such a consensus then Lewy has the best of reasons for saying what he has said. It will smooth relations between the Vatican and Israel (his job) and truth ought to be spoken.
          I tend to think he’s right to say that opening the archives would quite likely not settle things. It might well be like the 1914 question, where archives have split out in floods and we’re still (I rather think) none the wiser. But then for this statement of Lewy’s to be true it must also be true that there’s no virtuously smoking gun fired by Pius (though some have suggested that he flirted with assassination plans) against Hitler’s anti-Jewish policies.

        • Shmuel
          June 27, 2011, 1:57 am

          MHughes,

          The debate is mostly about what Pius XII did not do, with some dispute regarding his actual role in the heroic efforts of thousands upon thousands of members of the Catholic clergy and religious orders. What Lewy has done is to accentuate the positive. For example, the Church in Rome actively rescued very many Jews, yet when the Nazis kept entire Jewish families in a prison on Via della Lungara – only a few hundred metres from St. Peters – for a number of days (widely interpreted as a test or challenge to the Church), prior to deportation, the Holy See said and did nothing. The archives may or may not shed light on this incident.

        • MHughes976
          June 27, 2011, 9:38 am

          Thanks, Shmuel – very interesting.

        • Antidote
          June 27, 2011, 6:19 pm

          Another footnote on the Pius-controversy: According to a former Rumanian spy, the defamation campaign against Pius was the brain child of the KGB. The suggestion is that Hochhuth’s ‘Deputy’ was based on false information fed to the author via the KGB and his producer Piscator, a communist who contributed to the historical sources cited in the appendix to the play. See:

          link to nationalreview.com

      • LeaNder
        June 26, 2011, 8:44 am

        Hochhuth

        I have never read Hochhuth and only know his: Der Stellvertreter/(The Deputy), but I am admittedly very skeptical about him. I have monitored the “new right” intellectual paper Junge Freiheit (young freedom) for several years before they moved to Berlin (or Potsdam, really); given some of Hochhuth’s supposed political allegiances it surely was strange to find him there. But the Irving quote topped it, and yes there was more, but I forget. It was enough to leave a “handle with care” on my mind.

        As a rule of thumb, one can say the Protestants ruled the Nazis into power, not the Catholics. But obviously in the single cases it was more complicated. And basically the majority were no heroes no matter were you look.

  8. Kathleen
    June 25, 2011, 4:35 pm

    ot but really interesting. Goes with Risen’s recent Prof Cole article
    link to salon.com

  9. optimax
    June 25, 2011, 9:25 pm

    What do the sacred texts of Judaism say about forgiveness?

  10. Richard Witty
    June 26, 2011, 7:44 am

    Currently,
    Israel’s isolation is receding.

    Israel is in a process of reconciliation with Turkey, indicated by Turkey’s willingness to prohibit the flotilla from basing in Turkey.

    The Arab Spring in Syria has scared Turkey. 12,000 refugees (not horrendous), but massing of troups near Turkey (likely not to aggress against Turkey, but possibly capable of disregarding Turkish borders in pursuit of Syrian dissidents).

    And, even Arab Spring Egypt resulting in the very temporary opening of the Rafah Crossing, has since severely restricted the Rafah crossing.

    Its hard to know where that originated, either in Israel and restoring relations with the Egyptian current military government, or even potentially with Hamas which might be insisting that the status of Gaza as occupied remains.

    I made an argument to the Israeli electoral left (I have LITTLE influence), that Netanyahu was exposed internally because of the devolution of relations with Israel’s neighbors.

    I can’t make that argument now that Turkey is mending fences with Israel largely in response to perceived threats of opportunisitic chaos originating in Syria and Iran.

    • Chaos4700
      June 26, 2011, 8:31 am

      Keep living in your bubble. It will be fun to watch it pop. “I have made an argument to the Israeli electoral left.” And why don’t you save the unicorns from the burning stable while you’re at it, Superman.

      • LeaNder
        June 26, 2011, 8:57 am

        or even potentially with Hamas which might be insisting that the status of Gaza as occupied remains.

        no comment necessary. But, yes bubble.

    • annie
      June 26, 2011, 11:28 am

      Currently,
      Israel’s isolation is receding.

      LOLOLOLOLROTFLOL

  11. Leper Colonialist
    June 27, 2011, 10:29 am

    My favorite mucho obscuro cyberspace provocateur [spelling?] proposed the outlines of a diplomatic alliance between The Holy See and the State of Israel about a year ago. It received the obsurity it deserved, but is sort-of amusing nonetheless:

    link to theeroticreview.com.

Leave a Reply