The Vatican’s top liaison to Jews has strongly criticized “Jewish agencies” for damaging Catholic-Jewish relations with “aggressive attitudes” against the Church, and has declared that the premier Jewish international interfaith umbrella group is dead.
In a defiant statement, the Vatican has rejected U.S. government appeals to open its secret World War II archives, The Jewish Week has learned. The development is expected to heighten tensions between the Holy See and world Jewish community leaders, experts said.
“It’s disgraceful,” declared Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress of the Vatican’s position, contained in a bold three-page declaration selectively distributed at a Holocaust conference in Washington last week.
Eric Greenberg is a staff writer. Michele Chabin is an Israel correspondent.
Jewish institutions and synagogues in New York City were being warned to boost their security in light of last week’s U.S. attacks on suspected terrorist sites in the Sudan and Afghanistan, while Israeli officials in Jerusalem are viewing the current crisis as part of a continuum of preparedness.
In the past few days, Zalman Shoval’s popularity has soared with colleagues and strangers he bumps into around his Washington office.
“There isn’t a single person in the [U.S.] State Department that hasn’t tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘thank you,’ ” related Shoval, Israel’s incoming ambassador to the United States. “It reminds me of the good old days of Israel’s restraint in the  Gulf war.”
Israel’s standing in the United Nations continues to deteriorate as the Palestinian voice grows stronger. The overwhelming vote by the UN General Assembly Tuesday (124 to 4) upgrading the Palestinian’s status gives Palestinian representatives the power for the first time to raise issues regarding the peace process before the 185-member international body.
Who holds the keys to true salvation? In recent years, Jewish interfaith leaders have been carefully parsing new statements of Christian theologians on the subject, raising objections when the Vatican or Evangelical leaders declare that everlasting salvation can come only through belief in Jesus.
More recently, militant Islamic clerics have labeled those who don’t believe in Muhammad and Allah as infidels.
When Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb rose to speak before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad here last week, “You could hear a pin drop,” she said.
The only rabbi, and one of just a handful of Jews to attend a dinner dialogue between Ahmadinejad and a coalition of religious peace groups during his visit to address the UN last week, Gottlieb knew her words would weigh heavily in the air — not least with the Quakers, Mennonites and other peace churches that sponsored the gathering.
For Israel this week, the outbreak of war between Georgia and Russia has been all about Iran.
As Tblisi and Moscow agreed to a cease-fire Tuesday in their five-day conflict over two disputed territories, Russia was still bristling with anger over U.S. policies and statements on the issue. But thanks to Israel’s decision to limit its arms sales to Georgia, the Kremlin had only kind words for Israel, Washington’s closest ally, as the guns of war died down.
When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad first questioned whether the Holocaust had taken place, in a speech last December, much of the Arab world (convinced that Israel exploits the tragedy to compel international support) cheered.
But in the pages of the London-based, Saudi-owned Arab daily, Al Hayat, senior columnist Hazem Saghiyeh once again assumed the mantle of a lonely Cassandra.
While Duvid Feldman was attending a conference in Tehran last week that questioned the reality of the Holocaust, back home in Monsey, his 10 children were “suffering” at the hands of other ultra-Orthodox children thanks to “foolish” media coverage of the event, his wife said Tuesday.