Iran says Pope was too close to “evil” Jews

April 07, 2005

This is an update to several previous dispatches on this list, including:

* Tehran Times marks Holocaust Day by denying it happened (Jan. 27, 2005)
* Iranian TV: Israelis steal Palestinian children's eyes (Dec. 23, 2004)
* Teheran bemused as France bans anti-Semitic Iranian TV station (Feb. 25, 2005)
* A world record: 35,000 new stories on the Pope in 24 hours (April 5, 2005)
* Arab media coverage of Pope's death infuriates Islamists (April 4, 2005)

 

CONTENTS OF THIS EMAIL:

1. "Iran: Pope was too close to 'evil' Jews" (WorldNetDaily.com, April 6, 2005)
2. "The pope who turned anti-Semitism aside" (Boston Globe, April 7, 2005)
3. "Pope John Paul II" (Jerusalem Post Editorial, April 3, 2005)
4. "The pope who changed history" (By Binyamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Post, April 4, 2005)

 



IRAN: THE POPE CAVED IN TO "THE JEWISH LOBBY"

[Note by Tom Gross]

Several government-sponsored Iranian newspapers have criticized Pope John Paul II in the last three days for having been "too close to Jews." For example, the daily newspaper, Hamshahri, accused John Paul II of caving "in to pressure from the Jewish lobby" despite "Jewish responsibility for the death of Christ."

The Jomhuri Islami newspaper attacked John Paul II for recognizing Israel's existence.

Iran was also angry because in 1995, John Paul invited Lebanese bishops to the Vatican where they called on Syria to withdraw its nearly 20,000 troops from their country.

This follows an increasing pattern of anti-Israel rhetoric coming out of Iran, and may result from fears of an imminent attack on the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

STEALING CHILDREN'S EYES

This latest assault on Israel follows the accusation from Iran that Israel killed former Lebanese president Rafik Hariri, the denial of the Holocaust when the rest of the world was remembering the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and the Iranian TV soap opera that claimed the Israeli government has a policy of stealing Palestinian children's eyes. All these stories have been detailed in previous dispatches on this list.

I also attach complimentary articles on Pope John Paul II by Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby, and by Israeli finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

There are summaries first for those who don't have time to read these articles in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

IRANIAN STATE MEDIA SLAMS POPE FOR BEING "COMPROMISED" BY "ZIONIST REGIME"

"Iran: Pope was too close to 'evil' Jews. State-run media slams John Paul for being 'compromised' by 'Zionist regime'" (By Aaron Klein, WorldNetDaily.com, April 6, 2005)

Iran's government-sponsored media yesterday blasted Pope John Paul II for what it perceived as his closeness with Israel and the Jewish people, saying Israel should be considered an enemy of the church and not just of the Tehran regime. "Not only did the pope never condemn the crimes of the 'Zionist regime' in the territories, the Vatican officially recognized its existence," the official Jomhuri Islami newspaper said in an editorial.

... Another Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri, accused John Paul of "[caving] in to pressure from the Jewish lobby" despite "Jewish responsibility for the death of Christ."

Arab leaders have in the past expressed mixed feelings about the pontiff, who frequented the Middle East and was credited for galvanizing Christian minority communities in several Mideast countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian areas between 1997 and 2001. Egypt's Copts used John Paul's visits in part to demand equal rights and an end to targeted violence against their community. Copts, who constitute between 8 and 15 percent of Egypt's population, have long clashed with Muslim extremists.

... But some Muslims have praised John Paul's outreach to the Islamic world. In 2001, he became the first pope to enter a Muslim place of worship, visiting the revered Omayyad Mosque in Damascus. He also met with leaders of Syria's non-Catholic churches...

 

THE CHILD OF MOSES AND HELEN HILLER

"The pope who turned anti-Semitism aside" (By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, April 7, 2005)

As a young boy in the 1930s, my father* attended public school in Snina, a town in eastern Czechoslovakia. Twice a week, a Catholic priest would come in to teach the catechism, during which the few children who were Jewish would wait outside. As they left the classroom, my father recalls, the priest invariably made some insulting remark about the Jewish people.

For Jews in the Europe of my father's youth, such Christian contempt was a fact of life... This "teaching of contempt" fed an often virulent anti-Semitism, which created the climate for Europe's long history of persecuting Jews. Sixty-five years ago that history culminated in the Holocaust.

Yet not every priest in that era treated Jews with disdain. Consider the story of Moses and Helen Hiller, a Jewish couple in Nazi-occupied Poland who entrusted their 2-year-old son to a Catholic family named Jachowicz in November of 1942... The Hillers were deported to Auschwitz. They never returned.

The Jachowiczes came to love the little boy as their own and decided, when the war was over, to adopt him. Mrs. Jachowicz asked a young priest in Krakow to baptize the child, explaining that he had been born Jewish and that his parents had died. But when the priest... refused to perform the baptism. Instead he insisted that the Jachowiczes contact the child's relatives.

Today that boy is a middle-aged man, an observant Jew with children of his own. The young priest, whose name was Karol Wojtyla, died last week. He will be buried on Friday as Pope John Paul II, in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

... At a time when the Polish church could be vilely anti-Semitic -- in 1936 the primate of Poland, Cardinal Augustus Hlond, issued a pastoral letter declaring that "there will be a Jewish problem as long as Jews remain" and painting Jews as corrupters and atheists guilty of "spreading pornography" and ''perpetrating fraud, practicing usury, and dealing in prostitution" -- the future pope's closest friend was a Jewish boy, Jerzy Kluger.

... As a young bishop at the Second Vatican Council, [Karol Wojtyla] spoke up powerfully in support of "Nostra Aetate," the landmark Vatican declaration that renounced the idea of Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus and affirmed that God's covenant with the Jews is unbroken.

In 1979, on his first papal visit back to Poland, he journeyed to Auschwitz, taking pains to emphasize what the communist government of the day took pains to obscure: the Jewish identity of the Holocaust. ''The very people that received from God the commandment 'Thou shall not kill, itself experienced in a special measure what is meant by killing."

... In 1993, he formally recognized the state of Israel, repudiating forever the old theology that Jews were doomed to everlasting exile, never again to be sovereign in their homeland. He became the first pope to publicly beg forgiveness for Christian wrongs done to Jews.

... As he is laid to his rest, Jews and Christians will weep together.

[NOTE * For more on Jeff Jacoby's father, and his liberation from Auschwitz, see the first article in the dispatch on this list of January 27, 2005 titled (1) Auschwitz, 60 years on "My father was no longer there" - Tom Gross]

 

"FROM THIS MOUNTAIN HE LOOKED OUT UPON THE LAND WHICH YOU PROMISED"

"Pope John Paul II" (Jerusalem Post Editorial, April 3, 2005)

The pope who called Jews his "elder brothers," who placed a message of atonement in the Western Wall, and who opened relations with the Jewish state, will be remembered with affection and admiration by the Jewish people.

... It was one thing to make a formal break with the theology, as the Second Vatican Council had done, that Christianity had replaced Judaism, and that Jews were collectively to blame for the death of Jesus. It was another to show the sincerity and empathy of John Paul II in embodying the new doctrine into word and deed.

In 1965, for example, it would be hard to imagine a pope standing at the Western Wall, a site so holy to the Jewish people, and placing a prayer in it that read, "God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring Your name to the nations ... We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of Yours to suffer and, asking Your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant."

... Less noticed, but equally moving, was his prayer on the first day of that same pilgrimage in 2000, on Mt. Nebo in Jordan, overlooking Israel: "Blessed are you, God of our Fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob; the God of the Exodus and of the Passover, of the Covenant and of the promises. You faithfully led your people through the desert under the guidance of Moses. From this mountain he looked out upon the land which you promised as an inheritance to the chosen people."

Again, there could be nothing more striking than a pope declaring in Jordan that the Land he was gazing upon was promised to the Jews. Yet it is a measure of how far there is to go in relations between the Church and the Jews that even this pope chose to meet Yasser Arafat, for the first of 10 times, as far back as 1982 - which was before the PLO had renounced terrorism...

One also wonders why in November 2003, while suicide attacks against Israeli civilians continued, the pope condemned terrorism, but also said of the security fence Israel was building to stop terrorists...

We hope that the next pope will honor his legacy by continuing in his footsteps and showing even greater moral leadership with respect to Israel and bringing Jewish-Christian relations further into a new era.

 

THE CLOSING OF A HISTORIC CIRCLE

"The pope who changed history" (By Binyamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Post, April 4, 2005)

'How many divisions does the pope have?" asked Stalin dismissively. In the case of Pope John Paul II the answer was - plenty. He marshalled his divisions of Catholic believers at a critical moment in the late 1980s when the Solidarity movement toppled the totalitarian regime in his native Poland.

... Aside from president Ronald Reagan, John Paul II did more than any other person to bring communism to an end. For that, history shall remember him.

... His warm embrace of the Jewish people was evident when I visited him in the Vatican as prime minister in 1997. The pontiff emotionally spoke to me about his friendships with Jews going back to his student days in pre-Holocaust Poland. . He looked at me and my wife Sara and said, "You are so young, and yet you are asked to lead the Jewish people - you must stay strong to carry such a burden on your shoulders."

He responded warmly to my invitation to visit the Holy Land during the millennium celebrations, "if health will permit me." He made good on his promise and in the year 2000 he came to Israel on a visit that symbolized the closing of a historic circle...

 



FULL ARTICLES

DEATH OF A PONTIFF

Iran: Pope was too close to 'evil' Jews
State-run media slams John Paul for being 'compromised' by 'Zionist regime'
By Aaron Klein
WorldNetDaily.com
April 6, 2005

www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=43660

Iran's government-sponsored media yesterday blasted Pope John Paul II for what it perceived as his closeness with Israel and the Jewish people, saying Israel should be considered an enemy of the church and not just of the Tehran regime.

"Not only did the pope never condemn the crimes of the 'Zionist regime' in the territories, the Vatican officially recognized its existence," the official Jomhuri Islami newspaper said in an editorial.

The paper claimed the worldwide expansion of Islam had been "a constant worry" for a pope who had been "compromised [by] the 'Zionist regime.'"

Another Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri, accused John Paul of "[caving] in to pressure from the Jewish lobby" despite "Jewish responsibility for the death of Christ."

Arab leaders have in the past expressed mixed feelings about the pontiff, who frequented the Middle East and was credited for galvanizing Christian minority communities in several Mideast countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian areas between 1997 and 2001.

Egypt's Copts used John Paul's visits in part to demand equal rights and an end to targeted violence against their community. Copts, who constitute between 8 and 15 percent of Egypt's population, have long clashed with Muslim extremists.

Analysts say Syrian and pro-Damascus Lebanese leaders were uneasy about the pontiff reaching out to Lebanon's large Maronite Catholic minority. Lebanese Christians and Muslims fought in the 1975-90 civil war. In 1995, John Paul invited Lebanese bishops to the Vatican where they called on Syria to withdraw its nearly 20,000 troops from their country.

And the pope was blasted by Arab leaders when he traveled to Israel on a millennium pilgrimage, meeting survivors of the Nazi Holocaust at the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem and putting a prayer note into the Western Wall.

But some Muslims have praised John Paul's outreach to the Islamic world. In 2001, he became the first pope to enter a Muslim place of worship, visiting the revered Omayyad Mosque in Damascus. He also met with leaders of Syria's non-Catholic churches.

Although Israel and the Vatican have in the past had a stormy relationship, with many faulting Pope Pius XXII for not speaking out against Nazi war crimes, Israeli figures yesterday praised Pope John Paul II as a principled religious leader whose efforts helped bring Jews and Catholics together. Many pointed to his visit to the Holy Land in 2000 as an historic reconciliation between the two faiths.

"[The pope was] a man of peace, a friend of the Jewish people. ... The world has lost one of the most important leaders of our time," said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Former Chief Israeli Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau said, "With the exception of John XXIII, there has never been as pro-Jewish a pope as John Paul II. In addition to his contribution to the fall of communism and the crumbling of the iron curtain - something that allowed hundreds of thousands of Jews to return to their heritage and even come to Israel - we must remember that the pope contributed to combating anti-Semitism in 120 countries he visited."

Meanwhile, alongside Iranian media criticisms, Iran's President Mohammed Khatami Monday described the pontiff as "a disciple of religious mysticism, philosophic deliberation and thought, and artistic and poetic creativity."

Khatami said he felt a sense of "loss" from the pope's death, and recalled meeting with the pope in 1999 in the Vatican and talking about "world politics and (international) cooperation."

Iran's anti-Israel eulogy of the pope has some concerned.

As the U.S. and Israel work to increase international pressure regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions, many are worried the Tehran regime might use pressure tactics against its Jewish community to ward off any upcoming action against Iran's suspected nuclear facilities.

Iran has recently been increasing the level of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement broadcast on its state-controlled media, monitors say.

A television series ran in Iran in January depicting "evil" Jews eagerly stoning crucified Christians during the decline of the Roman Empire. The series, translated by Palestinian Media Watch, shows "stereotypically evil-looking Jews wearing prayer shawls who notice Christian crucifixions and bribe a Roman officer to permit them to stone Christians," reported PMW.

 

THE POPE WHO TURNED ANTI-SEMITISM ASIDE

The pope who turned anti-Semitism aside
By Jeff Jacoby, Globe Columnist
Boston Globe
April 7, 2005

www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/04/07/the_pope_who_turned_anti_semitism_aside/

As a young boy in the 1930s, my father attended public school in Snina, a town in eastern Czechoslovakia. Twice a week, a Catholic priest would come in to teach the catechism, during which the few children who were Jewish would wait outside. As they left the classroom, my father recalls, the priest invariably made some insulting remark about the Jewish people.

For Jews in the Europe of my father's youth, such Christian contempt was a fact of life. Its origins lay in the church's ancient claim that God had rejected the Jews when they rejected Jesus and that his covenant with Israel had been superseded by a new covenant with the Christian church. This ''teaching of contempt" fed an often virulent anti-Semitism, which created the climate for Europe's long history of persecuting Jews. Sixty-five years ago that history culminated in the Holocaust.

Yet not every priest in that era treated Jews with disdain.

Consider the story of Moses and Helen Hiller, a Jewish couple in Nazi-occupied Poland who entrusted their 2-year-old son to a Catholic family named Jachowicz in November of 1942. The Hillers begged their friends to keep their child safe -- and, should they not survive, to send him to family members abroad who would bring him up as a Jew. Soon after, the Hillers were deported to Auschwitz. They never returned.

The Jachowiczes came to love the little boy as their own and decided, when the war was over, to adopt him. Mrs. Jachowicz asked a young priest in Krakow to baptize the child, explaining that he had been born Jewish and that his parents had died. But when the priest, some of whose friends had also died in Auschwitz, learned of the Hillers' wish that their son not be lost to the Jewish people, he refused to perform the baptism. Instead he insisted that the Jachowiczes contact the child's relatives.

Today that boy is a middle-aged man, an observant Jew with children of his own. The young priest, whose name was Karol Wojtyla, died last week. He will be buried on Friday as Pope John Paul II, in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

When it came to the Jews, John Paul's attitudes were revolutionary. He had grown up with Jews as neighbors and classmates; he and his father rented the second floor of a house whose Jewish owners lived below. At a time when the Polish church could be vilely anti-Semitic -- in 1936 the primate of Poland, Cardinal Augustus Hlond, issued a pastoral letter declaring that ''there will be a Jewish problem as long as Jews remain" and painting Jews as corrupters and atheists guilty of ''spreading pornography" and "perpetrating fraud, practicing usury, and dealing in prostitution" -- the future pope's closest friend was a Jewish boy, Jerzy Kluger. To the young Father Wojtyla, the contempt for Jews and Judaism that came so readily to priests like the one in my father's school must have always rung false, even heretical.

And so he fought it. As a priest in Krakow, he would not countenance the betrayal of murdered Jewish parents by baptizing their child. As a young bishop at the Second Vatican Council, he spoke up powerfully in support of ''Nostra Aetate," the landmark Vatican declaration that renounced the idea of Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus and affirmed that God's covenant with the Jews is unbroken.

In 1979, on his first papal visit back to Poland, he journeyed to Auschwitz, taking pains to emphasize what the communist government of the day took pains to obscure: the Jewish identity of the Holocaust. ''The very people that received from God the commandment 'Thou shall not kill, itself experienced in a special measure what is meant by killing."

"It is not permissible for anyone to pass by this," he continued, ''with indifference."

Milestone followed milestone. In 1986 he paid the first visit by a pope to the Great Synagogue in Rome, where he stressed the debt that Christians owe to the Jews, ''our elder brothers." In 1993, he formally recognized the state of Israel, repudiating forever the old theology that Jews were doomed to everlasting exile, never again to be sovereign in their homeland. He became the first pope to publicly beg forgiveness for Christian wrongs done to Jews.

And in 2000, on a deeply emotional pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he became the first pope to pray at the Western Wall, a moment of reverence for the Jewish faith -- and for the temple that was once its beating heart -- that would have been unthinkable for most of the preceding two millennia.

If John XXIII was the ''good pope" who set in motion the great shift in the church's relations with the Jewish people, John Paul II was the great pope who made it undeniable and irrevocable. As he is laid to his rest, Jews and Christians will weep together.

 

"FROM THIS MOUNTAIN HE LOOKED OUT UPON THE LAND WHICH YOU PROMISED"

Pope John Paul II
The Jerusalem Post
Editorial
April 3, 2005

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1112494793567&p=1006953079865

The pope who called Jews his "elder brothers," who placed a message of atonement in the Western Wall, and who opened relations with the Jewish state, will be remembered with affection and admiration by the Jewish people.

It was hard to fail to be touched by the compassion and dignity of this man who, though he represented one religion, came to symbolize the religious spirit to people of many faiths.

It was, if anything, a measure of the respect Jews had for him that, despite his many efforts to extend a hand in friendship, it was also difficult not to be disappointed that his moral leadership did not extend further in our time of need. We would not have expected as much from a lesser pope.

Though the process began before him, most dramatically with the 1965 Nostra Aetate declaration initiated by Pope John XXIII, John Paul II dedicated his papacy in part to continuing to redefine Christianity's relationship with the Jewish people.

It was one thing to make a formal break with the theology, as the Second Vatican Council had done, that Christianity had replaced Judaism, and that Jews were collectively to blame for the death of Jesus. It was another to show the sincerity and empathy of John Paul II in embodying the new doctrine into word and deed.

In 1965, for example, it would be hard to imagine a pope standing at the Western Wall, a site so holy to the Jewish people, and placing a prayer in it that read, "God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring Your name to the nations ... We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of Yours to suffer and, asking Your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant."

In just these few words, the pope affirmed the Jews' status as the chosen people, asked for forgiveness, and pledged Christian brotherhood with Jews - all wrapped not just in a dry statement, but in a profound and personal gesture.

Less noticed, but equally moving, was his prayer on the first day of that same pilgrimage in 2000, on Mt. Nebo in Jordan, overlooking Israel: "Blessed are you, God of our Fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob; the God of the Exodus and of the Passover, of the Covenant and of the promises. You faithfully led your people through the desert under the guidance of Moses. From this mountain he looked out upon the land which you promised as an inheritance to the chosen people."

Again, there could be nothing more striking than a pope declaring in Jordan that the Land he was gazing upon was promised to the Jews. Yet it is a measure of how far there is to go in relations between the Church and the Jews that even this pope chose to meet Yasser Arafat, for the first of 10 times, as far back as 1982 - which was before the PLO had renounced terrorism and when both the US and Israel had branded it a terrorist organization.

One also wonders why in November 2003, while suicide attacks against Israeli civilians continued, the pope condemned terrorism, but also said of the security fence Israel was building to stop terrorists, "the Holy Land doesn't need walls, but bridges."

Pope John Paul II was a great man and a friend of the Jewish people. It should go without saying that President Moshe Katsav should, as was only "under consideration" at this writing, attend his funeral. We hope that the next pope will honor his legacy by continuing in his footsteps and showing even greater moral leadership with respect to Israel and bringing Jewish-Christian relations further into a new era.

 

THE POPE WHO CHANGED HISTORY

The pope who changed history
By Binyamin Netanyahu
The Jerusalem Post
April 4, 2005

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1112581160683&p=1006953079865

'How many divisions does the pope have?" asked Stalin dismissively. In the case of Pope John Paul II the answer was - plenty. He marshalled his divisions of Catholic believers at a critical moment in the late 1980s when the Solidarity movement toppled the totalitarian regime in his native Poland. Once this brick was removed from the communist wall, it did not take long for the entire edifice to crumble. (That appears to have been the reason for the attempt on his life.) Aside from president Ronald Reagan, John Paul II did more than any other person to bring communism to an end. For that, history shall remember him.

It will also remember him for his tireless efforts to foster reconciliation between the world's great religions, including between Catholics and Jews. His plea for forgiveness from the Jewish people expressed a sincere desire to atone for the past iniquities of Christianity toward its "older brothers," as the pope called the Jews.

His warm embrace of the Jewish people was evident when I visited him in the Vatican as prime minister in 1997. The pontiff emotionally spoke to me about his friendships with Jews going back to his student days in pre-Holocaust Poland. He spoke of Jerusalem and the Land of Israel, "the land of our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." He looked at me and my wife Sara and said, "You are so young, and yet you are asked to lead the Jewish people - you must stay strong to carry such a burden on your shoulders."

He responded warmly to my invitation to visit the Holy Land during the millennium celebrations, "if health will permit me." He made good on his promise and in the year 2000 he came to Israel on a visit that symbolized the closing of a historic circle.

Christianity, born 2,000 years ago on the shores of the Sea of Galilee with a message of goodwill to all men, returned there after blood-drenched centuries of religious warfare with a similar message of kindness, so masterfully expressed by Pope John Paul II. Who can deny today the importance to humanity's future of his message of moderating religious fanaticism?

The pope's third great contribution was the removal of barriers between the masses and the Catholic Church. He was the first pope to make the most of television, and in his travels to over 100 lands he sought to win adherence to the traditional values he believed in.

Some of those values are justifiably contested. But the fact that in an overly permissive world millions of young people turned to the pope's message and searched for renewed moral significance in their lives can only evoke great respect for him. The pope at once renewed and preserved his Church.

For all these reasons Karol Wojtyla will be remembered as a man who changed history.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.