The recent $20 million settlement between a major American insurance firm and the heirs of Armenian policyholders killed in the Armenian Genocide had its genesis, indirectly, in the memoirs written nearly 90 years ago by a Jewish-American diplomat.
Henry Morgenthau Sr., the German native who served as U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during World War I, wrote in 1918 in “Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story” about an exchange with Talaat Pasha, Turkey’s Interior Minister and an architect of the Genocide.
“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
Adolf Hitler, to his generals, before the invasion of Poland in 1939
In the coming days, a people nearly annihilated during the last century will pause to remember its losses.
The Catholic Church will continue to improve its relationship with the Jewish community, but interfaith ties under Pope Benedict XVI will probably not be as warm or as significant as under his predecessor, John Paul II.
That is the opinion of representatives of several prominent Jewish organizations following the election Tuesday of German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the 265th pope. The early favorite to succeed Polish native John Paul II, Benedict XVI is the second non-Italian cardinal to lead the church in four-and-a-half centuries.
Although some have speculated that the successor of Pope John Paul II may devote inordinate attention to the Islamic world and less to Israel and the Jewish people, Jewish leaders who have dealt with the Vatican over the years foresee little change.
Judging by the statements and press releases issued on the letterheads of Jewish organizations following the death of Pope John Paul II, most of the Jewish community agreed that the pontiff made unprecedented contributions to Jewish-Catholic relations.
Jewish spokesmen cited the Vatican’s establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel, the pope’s condemnation of anti-Semitism as a “sin against God” and his general sensitivity to Jewish concerns.
Shortly after a little-known cardinal from Poland was elected spiritual head of the Catholic Church in 1978, Rabbi Arthur Schneier received a call from a network television correspondent asking for comment. The correspondent, who “equated Poles with anti-Semitism,” assumed that Rabbi Schneier, a Holocaust survivor and president of the Manhattan-based Appeal of Conscience Foundation, an ecumenical human rights organization, would comment negatively on the new pope, the rabbi recalls.