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Catholic Church to Stop Missionizing Jews


Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday that the Catholic Church no longer plans to missionize among Jews, according to Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger. Metzger thanked the pope for his criticism of Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust denier.

He asked the pope to inform Jews adopted by Catholics during the Holocaust of their true heritage. Failure to tell Jews about their real history "may perpetuate the suffering of many Jews and ultimately obtain the Nazi's aim, the annihilation of the Jewish people," he said.

Rabbi to Pope: Go Split Rome


If Pope Benedict XVI so fervently supports a Palestinian state – which would split sections of Israel – he also should divide Rome, charged the leader of a coalition of more than 350 Israeli rabbinic leaders and pulpit rabbis.

"I was shocked to hear that the first thing the pope had to say when he landed in Israel was that the Holy Land must be divided to make room for a Palestinian state," said Joseph Gerlitzky, rabbi of central Tel Aviv and chairman of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace, which includes some of Israel's most prominent Jewish leaders.

"I suggest that he divide Rome. The Holy Land was promised to the Jewish people and absolutely no human being on this earth has a right to relinquish even one inch of this land," Gerlitzky stated.

Gerlitzky made the remarks at a speech Tuesday commemorating the Jewish festive day of Lag Ba'Omer, which is about the mid-way point between Passover and the day on which the Jews were said to have received the Torah.

In his opening comments after disembarking at Israel's international airport Monday, Benedict called for the creation of a Palestinian state with the hope that Israelis and Palestinians "may live in peace in a homeland of their own within secure and internationally recognized borders."

The pontiff's speech Monday at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem's famed Holocaust Memorial Museum, has been slammed, largely for stopping short of an apology on behalf of the Catholic Church, which historians charge could have done more to save European Jews during the Holocaust. The pope's speech did not once mention "Nazis" or "murder."

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said in a radio interview the Vatican and its German-born pope had "a lot to ask forgiveness from our people for." "And he is also a German, whose country and people have asked forgiveness. But he himself comes and speaks to us like a historian, as an observer, as a man who expresses his opinion about things that should never happen, and he was – what can you do? – a part of them."

"If we let this go, in the end they'll say, 'the Jewish people can manage,'" Rivlin said, adding that "everything that we feared came to fruition. I came to the memorial not only to hear historical descriptions or about the established fact of the Holocaust. I came as a Jew, hoping to hear an apology and a request for forgiveness from those who caused our tragedy, and among them, the Germans and the church. But to my sadness, I did not hear any such thing."

Benedict began his speech stating, "I have come to stand in silence before the monument erected to honor the millions of Jews killed in the horrific tragedy of the Sho'ah. They lost their lives, but they will never lose their names. These are indelibly etched in the hearts of their loved ones, their surviving fellow prisoners, and all those determined never to allow such an atrocity to disgrace mankind again.

"I reaffirm – like my predecessors – that the church is committed to praying and working tirelessly to ensure that hatred will never reign in the hearts of men again," he said. "As we stand here in silence, their cry still echoes in our hearts. It is a cry raised against every act of injustice and violence. It is a perpetual reproach against the spilling of innocent blood. I am deeply grateful to God and to you for the opportunity to stand here in silence: a silence to remember, a silence to pray, a silence to hope," the pope concluded.

The Vatican Tuesday defended the pope. Spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters that Benedict had mentioned his German roots previously, specifically when visiting a synagogue in Cologne, Germany, in 2005 and at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland the following year. "He can't mention everything every time he speaks," Lombardi told reporters in Jerusalem.

Vatican Defends Pope as Anti-Nazi, Backtracks on Hitler Youth Claim

By Ha'aretz and Reuters

The Vatican defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday as a man of strong anti-Nazi credentials, and backtracked over an earlier claim that he had never been a member of the Hitler Youth in his native Germany, which had contradicted statements by the pontiff himself.

A Vatican spokesman at first flatly denied that Benedict, 82, was ever in the Nazi youth movement. But when reporters noted the pope himself spoke of his membership in a 1996 book, he revised the statement to say: "He was enrolled involuntarily into the Hitler Youth but he had no active participation."

Meanwhile, the pope also came under renewed fire for his speech a day earlier at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. Knesset Speaker Rueven Rivlin accused the pope of showing detachment from Jewish suffering under the Nazis. He referred to Benedict as "a German who joined the Hitler Youth and ... Hitler's army".

Lombardi told reporters in Jerusalem earlier Tuesday: "The pope was never in the Hitler Youth, never, never, never."

In "Salt of the Earth", a 1996 book of autobiographical and religious reflections based on interviews with German journalist Peter Seewald, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said, however, that he was automatically enrolled into the Hitler Youth.

Asked if he had been a member, he said: "At first we weren't, but when the compulsory Hitler Youth was introduced in 1941, my brother was obliged to join. I was still too young, but later, as a seminarian, I was registered in the HY. As soon as I was out of the seminary, I never went back." He also said he served on anti-aircraft batteries and was conscripted into the German infantry late in the war.

Citing Benedict's teenage membership in the Hitler Youth and German military service, Rivlin on Tuesday berated the pope over his address at Yad Vashem. "With all due respect to the Holy See, we cannot ignore the burden he bears, as a young German who joined the Hitler Youth and as a person who joined Hitler's army, which was an instrument in the extermination," Rivlin told Israel Radio.

"He came and told us as if he were a historian, someone looking in from the sidelines, about things that should not have happened. And what can you do? He was a part of them," Rivlin said.

The Vatican spokesman made a distinction between convinced Hitler Youth activists and members of the anti-aircraft units, omitting the category of involuntary Hitler Youth members to which Benedict has been quoted as saying he belonged. "The Hitler Youth was a corps of volunteers, fanatically, ideologically for the Nazis," Lombardi said.

The anti-aircraft auxiliary corps the pope was enrolled in towards the end of the war "had absolutely nothing to do with the Hitler Youth and the Nazis and Nazi ideology", he added. "It is important to say what is true and not to say false things about a very sensitive thing like this."

Histories of the air-aircraft auxiliary corps, known as the "Flakhelfer", and of the Hitler Youth, describe the auxiliaries as being organized as a unit of the Hitler Youth.

Pope Tells Palestinian Christians to Hold Fast in Face of Conflict

By Luis Ramirez (VOA-Jerusalem)

Pope Benedict XVI has called on Palestinian Christians to hold fast as their numbers dwindle in the Holy Land. The pope made his remarks before thousands of followers at a Mass in Jerusalem Tuesday. The pope on Tuesday also reached out to Jews and Muslims in the city.

Thousands gathered on Tuesday as Pope Benedict celebrated Mass outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, near the spot believed to be where Jesus was arrested before his crucifixion.

The pope read from the Psalms in Latin, the official language of the Holy See, before inserting a note containing a written prayer into a seam in the Wall, as is the tradition. In the note, the pope said he had come to Jerusalem, the "City of Peace," and spiritual home to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. He said he brings the joys, hopes, aspirations, trials, suffering and pain of all peoples.

Facebook Won't Ban Holocaust Deniers

By Ha'aretz and DPA

The popular social networking site Facebook will not disqualify users who use the site as a forum to deny the Holocaust, a spokesperson for the company told an Internet tech blog on Tuesday.

Responding to widespread indignation, Facebook appeared Monday to have taken down several Holocaust denial sites, though several others were still viewable.

The move came after a Facebook spokesman had earlier declined to shut down the Holocaust denial groups with names like Holocaust: A Series of Lies, Holohoax, and Holocaust is a Myth. While these sites were still live on Monday, others were deleted, including: Based on the facts ... there was no Holocaust, and Holocaust is a Holohoax.

But on Tuesday it seemed as if the company was making an about-face. "Denying the Holocaust is not a violation of our terms," Facebook spokesperson Barry Schnitt told the website Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, a Jewish former Harvard University student.

"We abhor Nazi ideals and find Holocaust denial repulsive and ignorant," a spokesman said over the weekend. "Just being offensive or objectionable doesn't get it taken off Facebook. However, we believe people have a right to discuss these ideas, and we want Facebook to be a place where ideas, even controversial ideas, can be discussed."

Dallas lawyer Brian Cuban went public with Facebook's policy late last week, prompting outraged responses from across the internet. Many people pointed out that earlier this year the site had in fact used its power to ban pictures of breastfeeding.

Facebook Product Manager Ezra Callahan was cited by techCrunch as defending the company's policy. Facebook Spokesman Randi Zuckerberg referred critics of the policy to an article written by Callahan on the subject: Facebook is a "company run by a prominent Jew" and can't "possibly show preferential treatment to one offended group over others," Zuckerberg cited him as saying. According to Zuckerberg, Callahan himself is Jewish.

Pat Buchanan Website Hosts Holocaust Deniers


Pat Buchanan, an American Catholic who is staunchly conservative but also is anti-war and in favor of a Palestinian Authority state, aids and abets Holocaust deniers on his website, according to Menachem Rosensaft, general counsel of the World Jewish Congress the founder of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.

Writing in the NY Daily News, he noted that Pope Benedict XVI, now visiting in Israel, told US Jewish leaders earlier this year that "any denial or minimization" of the Holocaust is "intolerable and altogether unacceptable."

Buchanan's website includes a forum where registered viewers have denied the Holocaust with views such as, "The same blinded people that believe that the Germans intentionally killed Jews - also believe the myth of the Anne Frank Diary."

One contributor wrote, "Kosher and Halal ritual slaughter, belong in the middle east sands, where both barbaric practices were begun, after an instruction to the Hebrews and Islamics by their god voices, probably the same one. It's a pity they cannot cut each others throats." Another writer stated, "We have known for some time that the Auschwitz myth is of an exclusively Jewish origin."

Buchanan has a checkered background as an arch-conservative against homosexuality and immigration but also an opponent to the war in Iraq and a proponent of a Palestinian Authority state on Judea, Gaza and Samaria.

He was an advisor to former Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Robert Reagan and was a serious contender for the presidency. Buchanan once defended Pope Pius XII against charges that he remained silent during the Holocaust, charging the Pope's accusers of being guilty of a "blood libel."

He also has maintained that Nazi guard John Demjanjuk is innocent, and he fought against his deportation. Last month, he wrote in his syndicated column that "the same satanic brew of hate and revenge that drove another innocent Man up Calvary that first Good Friday 2,000 years ago" was behind the "persecution" of Demjanjuk.

In 1985, he backed President's Reagan plan to visit a Germany military cemetery where SS officers were buried. Author and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel said that Buchanan, in a White House meeting with Jewish leaders, defended the trip by stating, "We cannot give the perception of the president being subjected to Jewish pressure.'"

He considers himself pro-Israel, espousing the view that the Jewish state should be "strong [and] independent" while its survival demands "a homeland, a flag and a nation of their own for the Palestinian people." But during the Second Lebanon War nearly three years ago, he accused President Bush of "subcontracting U.S. policy out to Tel Aviv."

Demjanjuk Arrives in Germany from US

By VOA News

Alleged Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk has arrived in Germany after a flight from the United States. He is expected to stand trial in Germany on charges of helping to murder 29,000 Jews.

Demjanjuk arrived in Munich Tuesday after a flight from Cleveland, Ohio. Immigration officials took the 89-year-old Demjanjuk to the airport from his house in an ambulance. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his final appeal against extradition to Germany. His family unsuccessfully argued that the flight would further endanger his poor health.

Germany has charged the former auto worker with being an accessory to 29,000 murders at the Nazi-run Sobibor concentration camp in Poland during World War II. The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk has said he is innocent, insisting he was a German prisoner of war.

The Demjanjuk case has been dragged out in U.S. courts for more than 30 years. The Justice Department says it has evidence Demjanjuk was a Nazi guard, and it stripped him of his U.S. citizenship.

U.S. authorities say Demjanjuk lied about his past when he first came to the United States in 1952. They extradited him in 1986 to Israel, where he was sentenced to death on charges that he was "Ivan the Terrible," the notoriously sadistic Treblinka death camp guard.

Israel's Supreme Court overturned his death sentence when new evidence raised doubts that he was Ivan the Terrible. Demjanjuk returned to the United States in 1993. It is not yet clear when his trial in Germany will open.

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