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>Israel Faxx
>JN Oct. 14, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 183

Israel's Wiesenthal Center Condemns Stein's Canonization

By IsraelWire

The head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel strongly condemned the Roman Catholic canonization ceremony making Jewish-born Edith Stein a saint.

"It is scandalous and painful that the Church chooses as symbolic of the Holocaust a person who left Judaism to convert," Efraim Zuloff said. "It's even more scandalous that this canonization comes several days after the one at Zagreb of Cardinal Alojzije Stepanic, an accomplice in the killings of hundreds of thousands of Jews, gypsies and Serbs."

Pope John Paul II announced that the Church would commemorate the Holocaust August 9 every year, in memory of a Stein, a Carmelite nun who died on that day in the Auschwitz death camp and who was made a saint Sunday. Her sainthood has upset Jews in general, who claim she was one of their own and her conversion to the Catholic faith was irrelevant.

"Their conversion, under the Nazi Nuremberg laws, did not alter their origin. One cannot claim, therefore, that they suffered martyrdom for their Catholic faith," said Tullia Zavi, a leader of Italy's Jewish community.

Jewish circles also fear that her canonization will be one more step in a campaign to "Christianize" the Holocaust during which 6 Million Jews died. Tens of thousands of non-Jews, many of them Catholics, also died in the Nazi purges.

The Croatian Cardinal Stepinac was beatified as a martyr last Sunday for his opposition to communist rule in post-war Yugoslavia. Critics also pointed out that during the war he had been close to Croatia's pro-Nazi Ustashi regime, notorious for its atrocities. Stepanic is said to have saved Jews from persecution, but only on condition that they converted to Catholicism.

Summit Set to Get Under Way at Wye River Center

By VOA's Ross Dunn (Jerusalem) & Gil Butler (State Department)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that following another terror attack aimed at Israel, he sees no prospect of a successful outcome for this week's Middle East peace summit in the United States.

Netanyahu says there is "no chance at this stage" of signing an interim peace deal with the Palestinians at this week's US summit, following the killing of an Israeli by suspected Palestinian gunmen.

He said this in a statement issued by his office, a few hours after an Israeli man was shot dead and a second seriously wounded in an attack in a Jerusalem forest, near the West Bank.

Netanyahu says if it turns out, as Israeli police suspect, that the killers fled to a Palestinian-ruled area, then -- in his words -- "it is incumbent upon the Palestinian Authority to act immediately to capture them."

President Clinton, Arafat and Netanyahu are to meet together Thursday, near Washington. The US government wants the summit to conclude a new interim peace deal, under which Israel would withdraw from a further 13 percent of the West Bank in exchange for measurable Palestinian steps to crack down on anti-Israeli violence.

Netanyahu faces strong pressure from right-wing members of his coalition not to sign an agreement. Supporters of Jewish settlements in the West Bank have told Netanyahu any new agreement with the Palestinians could spell the end of his government, which holds a slender one-vote majority in the Israeli parliament.

The negotiations may result in an interim Middle East peace agreement. The deal is expected to call for further Israeli troop withdrawals from the West Bank in exchange for Palestinian action to satisfy Israel's security requirements.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who will take part in the negotiations, spoke by phone with Netanyahu. Israeli demands for tighter Palestinian control over security -- a crackdown on attacks aimed at Israelis -- appears to be a major hurdle to be surmounted before an interim agreement is reached.

During Albright's visit to the region last week, several other interim issues were worked out: the percentage of land to be returned and a Palestinian industrial park at Gaza among them.

But State Department spokesman James Rubin emphasizes that there is no guarantee that the Wye Plantation conference in rural eastern Maryland will yield an agreement.

Albright has set aside four full days to take part in the Wye River summit. If an interim agreement is reached, officials say the goal is to, at least, make a start in negotiating the even tougher final status issues between the Palestinians and the Israelis -- the future of Jerusalem, borders, refugee rights, Israeli settlements, and the status of the Palestinian Authority.

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