AN AMERICAN JEWISH – GERMAN INFORMATION & OPINION NEWSLETTER firstname.lastname@example.org GERMANY EDITION May 29, 2014 IN THIS EDITION THE J STREET MATTER – American Jewish disagreement. It happens. WORLD-WIDE ANTI – SEMITISM – An important survey. THE EUROPEAN ELECTION – American Jewish reactions THE BRUSSELS MURDERS - A conducive atmosphere? FORD MOTOR CO. & THE JEWS – A suprise rise to the top. ISRAEL & THE EAST – The business of business is business. Is Europe listening? THE POPE’S VISIT – A couple of important happenings. RABBI SKORKA – The Pope’s rabbi. Dear Friends: This is not a good time. With the extreme parties gaining strength in the European Parliamentary elections, the murders in the Brussels Jewish Museum and the attack against two Jews outside a Paris synagogue, many Jews here are feeling downhearted and depressed. The growing strength of the National Front in France, the Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary are worrisome. The fact that the NPD in Germany has its first representative in the EP sends shivers down some spines (mine). 1
While the U.S. and even Israel (see story below) are beginning to turn economically toward the Middle and Far East, Europe still reigns supreme in the hearts and minds of American Jews. After all, the families of most of us came to the U.S. from Europe. We are of that stock and there is much history that binds us. Whether we admit it or not, we’re connected. So, with that in mind, let’s get on to the news… THE J STREET MATTER Anyone who knows the American Jewish community knows that it is made up of fractious groups who love arguing with each other and, at times, agreeing on very little. The portrait that many outside the community have of American Jews all agreeing as a bloc on Israeli policy, etc. is just dead wrong. The organization, J Street, which sees itself as “The Political Home for Pro-Israel, ProPeace Americans” is deeply opposed to the direction of the current Israeli government. You can read about them on their website www.jstreet.org It is seen as “dovish” and “peace oriented” and far to the “left” of where the majority of American Jews (and their organizations) are. Recently, J Street applied for membership in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations which identifies itself as follows: “The Conference is the preeminent forum where diverse segments of the Jewish community come together in mutual respect to deliberate vital national and international issues. Recognizing that common interests and goals far outweigh differences, the Conference sets policy and priorities, deliberates proactive strategies and takes collective action. Maximizing community resources, expertise, and energy enables the Conference’s remarkable achievements.” It is a very important organization. The J Street application brought out all the fractiousness noted above. Those feeling that an organization so often critical of the world’s only Jewish State should have no place in the council of the Presidents who champion themselves in setting the tone for American Jews when it comes to discussing Israel. Those taking a more liberal position felt that membership should be open to any reputable Jewish organization even if their point of view differes from Israel’s and the majority of the members. After a lot of public discussion, especially in the Jewish media, a secret ballot was held. JTA reported, “In a secret ballot Wednesday, 22 member groups of the Jewish community’s foreign policy umbrella body voted against admitting J Street, with 17 in favor, three abstentions and eight not present. At the same time, the membership bid elicited an unprecedented show of support from leading Jewish groups, some of which had previously clashed with J Street or kept it at 2
arm’s length. The Presidents Conference’s rejection of J Street elicited loud protests from prominent Jewish groups and calls for reform of the conference. “J Street kind of won the popular vote,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice chairman of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly. “The folks who represent actually millions of Jews voted to say we believe the tent is big enough and the table wide enough to continue to grow and to have dialogue”. It would take pages upon pages for me to list all the arguments for and against the J Street position and whether it belongs in the Presidents Conference. My guess (only a guess) is that most American Jews feel that organizations, including the Presidents Conference, should be open to all legitimate segments of the American Jewish community and if J Street re-applies for admission they should be accepted. I am sure they’ll re-apply somewhere down the line. I’ll keep you posted as to what happens. WORLD-WIDE ANTI – SEMITISM In this newsletter I write and print a great deal about anti-Semitism. It occurs to me that maybe some of you think I overdo it and, perhaps, you feel that it’s not as big an issue as I make it. In reality – it’s bigger! As reported by the Religious News Service, “The first-ever global study of anti-Semitic attitudes shows that more than a quarter of the world’s population harbors intense antiJewish sentiment, with region, more than religion, shaping people’s view of Jews and Judaism. The poll, released Tuesday (May 13) by the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, also finds that a large proportion of the world has never heard of the Holocaust or denies historical accounts of it. Of those polled, 46 percent have either not heard of the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews or think it is a myth or exaggerated. “For the first time we have a real sense of how pervasive and persistent anti-Semitism is today around the world,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the AntiDefamation League. He called the results of the Global 100 Index “sobering but not surprising” and said it would serve as a baseline for the ADL to understand where anti-Semitism is most prevalent and where education is most necessary. The results of the survey of 102 nations and territories revealed stark regional differences, and hotspots of antiSemitism around the globe. The survey found that the least anti-Semitic place in the world is Laos, where antiSemitic beliefs are held by just 0.2 percent of the population. The most anti-Semitic 3
place is in Israel’s backyard, the West Bank and Gaza, where 93 percent of people held anti-Semitic beliefs. The 10 most anti-Semitic countries and territories, according to the survey, are the West Bank and Gaza, Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan and Morocco. The 10 least anti-Semitic countries, surveyors found, are Laos, the Philippines, Sweden, the Netherlands, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, the United States, Denmark, Tanzania and Thailand. In the U.S., 9 percent of those surveyed revealed anti-Semitic views. The poll is based on 11 questions that refer to common stereotypes about Jews, such as “Jews have too much power in international financial markets” and “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.” Those who answered “probably true” to six or more questions were deemed to be anti-Semitic. Overall, 28 percent of respondents answered “no” to all 11 stereotypes presented of Jews when asked if they were true. Asked if a person could still be considered anti-Semitic for affirming only three antiSemitic stereotypes, Foxman said the ADL purposely set the bar for anti-Semitism very high, so as to make its results conservative. The ADL found that much of the world greatly overestimates the global Jewish population: Nearly half the respondents (48 percent) believe that Jews account for more than 1 percent of the population and nearly one in five (18 percent) believe they make up 10 percent. In reality, Jews account for 0.19 percent of the world’s people. Though the survey found Muslims to harbor more anti-Semitic views than Christians, Hindus and Buddhists — and Protestants fared better in the survey than Catholics — a person’s region seemed to correlate more strongly with views on Jews than did a person’s religion. Among Muslims, nearly half (49 percent) were found to hold anti-Semitic views. But across the Muslim-majority Middle East and North Africa, 75 percent of Muslims held anti-Semitic views. Muslims outside of the Middle East and North Africa showed lower levels of anti-Semitic attitudes; 64 percent of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa held anti-Semitic views, compared with 24 percent of Christians overall. Regionally, 74 percent of all respondents in the Middle East and North Africa held antiSemitic attitudes. That compares with 23 percent of all people in sub-Saharan Africa, 22 percent in Asia, 19 percent in the Americas and 14 percent in Oceania, the region with the lowest anti-Semitic scores in the world. The survey shows that Greece, at 69 percent, has the highest levels of anti-Semitic attitudes of any country outside the Middle East, a proportion far higher than the 4
Western European average of 24 percent. Already, Foxman said, “the prime minister of Greece had learned of our findings and requested that we come and visit.” A surprisingly large majority of respondents (74 percent) said they had never met a Jew, and of those, one in four displayed anti-Semitic attitudes. Of the 26 percent of people worldwide who harbor anti-Semitic attitudes, 70 percent said they had never met a Jewish person, the survey showed. Survey researchers polled more than 53,000 adults in 96 languages. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points for most countries. The survey was funded by a grant from New York philanthropist Leonard Stern. Foxman said the survey cost “a lot” but declined to disclose the exact cost. As far as Germany is concerned,, Javiv Rettig Gur, The Times of Israel's political correspondent wrote, “The complexities uncovered by the study are fascinating and important. They include, for example, the jarring discovery that 52% of Germans and Austrians believe Jews talk too much about the Holocaust — but also that young Germans and Austrians are shedding their parents’ anti-Semitic attitudes. The number of Germans holding such views dropped steeply from 33% among those over 50 to 15% among those under 34, and among Austrians from 41% to 12%. The Germanspeaking world is simultaneously growing tired of hearing about the Holocaust and more accepting of Jews. There are, of course, all kinds of ways of reporting on this very important study. The Germany segment’s statistics can be accessed by clicking here. http://global100.adl.org/#country/germany I guess some might find some fault with the statistics or the methodology, however, the results are pretty stark but, as ADL Director Abe Foxman has said, they’re not surprising. Anti-Semitism is a virus that seemingly, at least to date, has no cure. The only way we know how to combat it is with information and education. Worldwide that’s a pretty big job – but on it goes. THE EUROPEAN ELECTION The outcome of the recent European election sent shivers down the spines of most Jews – in Europe and beyond. Add that to the murders at the Jewish Museum in Brussels and you have a scary situation. Sam Sokol writing for Reuters noted, “Gains by the far-right in the European Union Parliament have Jewish communities on the continent nervous as they ponder a future in which parties they see as anti-Semitic secure increasing influence over policy. Despite the moderate left and right maintaining their majority, the American Jewish Committee noted, “several parties that promote hatred had strong support.” The AJC bemoaned the fact that Jobbik is now the second largest Hungarian party in 5
the continental legislature, while Greece’s Golden Dawn, a party which utilizes Nazi imagery and whose leaders are open in their admiration of Adolf Hitler, is now in the parliament for the first time and that Austria’s hard right FPO party came in third with just over a fifth of the vote, obtaining four seats. Daniel Schwammenthal, Director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute said that while the “extent to which these parties will be able to unite to influence European policy remains to be seen,” their presence in the legislature will still “at a minimum, provide a soapbox from which to propagate their vile hatred.” “These radical parties have been able to grow in their respective home countries for quite some time and are now cementing their presence also at the European level,” he warned. “They must be confronted head-on or the danger will only continue to grow.” “The European elections results have just revealed that our concerns regarding the rise of anti-democratic forces were indeed all too legitimate. The extreme right-wings parties can indeed celebrate a tremendous victory all over Europe,” said Dr. Dieter Graumann of the Zentralrat Der Juden, a Jewish communal body in Germany. “It is the democratic parties that have now to ensure that the elected body of the European Union will not be misused and that the European values of tolerance and liberality will be preserved,” he said. “It is a terrible shame that the European taxpayer has to finance these racist politicians.” Graumann called on the new parliament to make its first act the issuing of a “strong condemnation of any kind of hatred against minorities.” Benjamin Albalas, the head of the Central Board of Greek Jewish Communities, also warned of the results, envisaging the specter of the pre-Holocaust surge in European anti-Semitism. “It is not only very disappointing that Golden Dawn saw a significant rise in its share of the vote, winning three seats in the European Parliament, but also that other extremeright parties in Greece and beyond did so well in the elections. A great number of European citizens seem to have forgotten what happened during the Holocaust and World War II. Racism and anti-Semitism are again hitting Europe,” he stated. “It is time for immediate action.” I myself thinks it’s a national disgrace for Germany to have as one of its representatives Udo Voight of NPD who (Times of Israel) “Three years after being found guilty in 2004 of promoting Nazism after he called Hitler “a great man,” Voigt questioned the number of Holocaust deaths and demanded the return of German land lost after World War II. He also received a four-month suspended jail sentence for inciting violence after calling in a 1998 campaign speech for voters to engage in “armed combat.” And in 2011 the NPD stirred controversy again, with posters depicting Voigt, on his motorbike, wearing a black leather jacket, with the motto “Gas geben” (Step on It) or 6
literally “give gas” in what some saw as a reference to gas chambers where millions of Jews perished in Nazi extermination camps. I don’t think the Constitutional Court did itself or Germany any favors by reducing the minimum requirements for membership in the Parliament. There is a lot of media coverage I have seen about the Alternative for Germany Party (AfD). As far as I can tell it has tried to keep itself clear of anti-Semites. If it sticks to economic issues, no matter whether I agree or disagree with, I won't have a problem with them. However, parties on the extreme right wing seem to draw people who have an aversion to Jews. Whether that fate will befall AfD is something we will have to wait and see if it happens. THE BRUSSELS MURDERS As I write this, the man who perpetrated the cold-blooded Brussels murders is still at large. Until he is identified and captured (or killed) we will not know what his motives were. However, I don’t think I’m being too presumptive in saying that since the murders took place in a publicly identified Jewish building, anti-Semitism might very well have something to do with the killers’ choice of location and victims. Since we don’t know the killer’s motives, one cannot authoritatively say that antiSemitism was at the bottom of it. However, there is no doubt (in my mind) that the general rise of anti-Semitism in Europe has produced a climate conducive to carrying out violent acts against Jews. With that being the case, all Europeans must do all that they can to confront the anti-Semites before they get stronger. I have pointed out before that anti-Semitism is not only a Jewish problem. If it is allowed to flourish it is a danger to democracy. History tells us that it can bring down nations that otherwise have established liberal democracy as a way of life. It can cause great grief for their populations. I think you can see what’s on my mind. FORD MOTOR CO. & THE JEWS I thought I might lighten up a bit by, first, giving you a little American history lesson and end this segment with some good news. In the early part of the 20th Century one of the most virulent anti-Semites in the U.S. was Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company. According to The Forward, “The founding Ford was known, in particular, for his leadership of The Dearborn Independent, a Michigan-based paper he bought in 1918 and proceeded to fill with rabid anti-Jewish invective, including a 91-part series later bound into a book under Ford’s name, called “The International Jew.” Forcefully distributed to Ford dealerships 7
nationwide throughout the 1920s, Ford’s paper gained an unprecedented readership for anti-Semitism. “In some places, the dealership would actually put copies of the newspaper in the car, so that when you drove off with your Model T, there you had on the seat next to you a copy of The Dearborn Independent,” said Hasia Diner, a professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies and history at New York University, when interviewed for a biography of Ford in “American Experience,” a series on the Public Broadcasting Service. Ford also distributed some 500,000 copies of “The International Jew” across America and, with more lethal effect, published it in Europe, as well. Adolf Hitler and other Nazis hailed Ford for his stand, and the Nazi Party distributed his book in translation widely throughout Germany. In 1938, the Nazi regime awarded the automaker the Grand Cross of the German Eagle in recognition of this work. “As one of the most famous men in America, Henry Ford legitimized ideas that otherwise may have been given little authority,” Diner said. No one lasts forever but Ford lasted until 1947. The running of the company passed into hands of Henry Ford II, who disliked his grandfather intensely, was the one who moved to make amends in the years after World War II. He developed a close business and personal relationship with Max Fisher, a Detroit-based national Jewish communal leader, businessman and philanthropist, and with Fisher’s encouragement, gave freely to Jewish causes around Detroit. Ford II also made significant gifts to the then-United Jewish Appeal. But it wasn’t until the late 1970s that an executive with a Jewish background, Mervyn Manning, was promoted to the rank of vice president in one of Ford’s subdivisions. By 1999, Benson Ford Jr., a great-grandson of the auto tycoon, was gaining plaudits for donating a 500-year-old Torah to Temple Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield, Michigan, a Detroit suburb. The Torah was written in hiding between 1492 and 1560 in Spain or Portugal, where it was illegal to practice Judaism at the time. Now we get to the good part… In a company where the top jobs frequently go to graduates of Midwestern engineering schools — or to heirs of the founding family — Mark Fields’s rise to the top of Ford Motor Co. was hardly a sure thing. But then, in an earlier era, when the Fields family name was Finkelman and the name of the company’s leader was Henry Ford, the odds would have been nil, or worse. Just as Finkelman became Fields, however, the automaker founded by one of America’s most notorious anti-Semites has transformed itself over the decades. When Ford named Fields as its president and CEO on May 1, the 53-year-old executive became not just the first Jew to run that company, but also the first Jew to head any of the major U.S. automakers. So, there you have it. It’s great American and Jewish story. Anti-Semitism in the U.S. is 8
certainly not dead. However, enough progress has been made so that there are practically no business positions that are closed to Jews. I wish I could say that the same applies to all minorities but that is not the case. It takes time plus constant political and economic pressure. You just have to keep on pushing. ISRAEL & THE EAST For its size, Israel is a technological giant. The expertise of its highly educated and trained people makes it a logical partner for any for any country that needs the kind of hi-tech that Israel abounds in. In a recent Haaretz article, Moshe Arens, a former Ambassador to the U.S. and Defense Minister makes the case that the Jewish State is changing its major economic focus from Europe to the countries of the Middle and Far East. He makes the case that, “Slowly but surely Israel is pivoting toward the East. Years ago that would have been a most unexpected development. After all, most of Israel’s population originated from Europe, and most of its leadership had its roots in Europe. For many years Israel might have been considered, for better or for worse, an outpost of Europe in the Middle East. Whether Europe loved Israel or hated Israel, Europe remained Israel’s closest connection to Western civilization. But a change is taking place. Our prime minister has visited China and Japan, and it is a fair bet that he will visit India in the near future. Who knows, Korea may even be next. On reflection this is not totally unexpected. For many years the economic development of the countries in East Asia has been outpacing the economic development of Europe. Japan made giant strides in the years after World War II. South Korea followed suit. China has become the economic wonder of the twenty-first century. There are, as well, indications of accelerated economic development in India, the world’s largest democracy. It is natural that Israel’s economic relationship with these countries would begin to rival its relationships with the countries of Europe, a Europe which seems to be in permanent economic crisis and lagging behind the Asian tigers. But that is not the only reason for this turn to the East by Israel. Europe is the graveyard of European Jewry. They were slaughtered in the killing fields of the Soviet territories, now Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, and Ukraine, that the German army occupied during Operation Barbarossa. And they were gassed in the industrialized killing installations established on Polish soil. Almost all of Europe was involved, directly or indirectly, in the murderous scheme to exterminate the Jewish people. The French and the Dutch shipped their Jews off by railroad to Auschwitz, knowing full well the meaning of that destination. And the British, who for a while were the only ones to stand up to Nazi Germany, made sure that no Jews would be allowed to flee Europe and reach Palestine.
Despite the centuries of anti-Semitism that marked most European nations and the guilt borne by them for their actions during the Holocaust, Europe, in recent years through the machinery of the European Union, has waged a constant campaign of criticism and condemnation of the policies pursued by Israeli governments, going so far as to impose economic sanction against Israel. Nothing of the sort has come Israel’s way from the Far East or India. Unlike Europe, China, Japan, and India have no history of anti-Semitism. Quite the contrary - they demonstrate admiration for the ancient Jewish civilization and Israeli achievements in science and technology, and are eager to expand cultural and economic relations with Israel. The dramatic success of Shinzo Abe, the current Japanese Prime Minister, in rejuvenating the Japanese economy, and the landslide victory of Nurendra Modi in the recent Indian election, hold a promise of flourishing relations between Japan and India in the years to come. The already rapid growth in the relationship between Israel and China and the possibility of developing relations with the Republic of Korea, are clear indications that Israel is turning to the East and moving away from Europe and the sad European legacy. There is more to the article which can be accessed by clicking here http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.592676 I would grant that former Minister Arens has a point about Europe’s frequent negative attitude toward Israel. However, “the business of business is business” and if in certain circumstances it makes business sense for Israel to trade with European countries they will do just that. History is important but business today is more important. BTW, Jeff Moskowitz writing in The Tablet about Israel and India talks about India’s new President, Narendra Modi notes, “When Modi, the head of the Hindu nationalist BJP party, is sworn in as prime minister on Monday, he will become the only Indian premier to have ever visited the Jewish state. He has close relationships with Israeli business leaders, and his landslide victory has left many anticipating the possibility of a great leap forward in Indian-Israeli relations—and with it, a billion new customers and allies. You can read the whole story by clicking here. http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/173767/modi-israels-new-bestfriend?utm_source=Newsletter+subscribers&utm_campaign=04948a9b36JTA_Daily_Briefing_5_27_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2dce5bc6f804948a9b36-25329937 You should also read http://www.jta.org/2014/05/28/news-opinion/israel-middleeast/times-of-israel-chinese-debuts? utm_source=Newsletter+subscribers&utm_campaign=eb78003027JTA_Daily_Briefing_5_28_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2dce5bc6f8eb78003027-25329937 10
THE POPE’S VISIT Pope Francis has come and gone to the Middle East and as JTA reported, he made symbolic gestures to both the Israelis and Palestinians. As they pointed out, “Perhaps the most lasting image from Pope Francis’ trip to Israel and the West Bank will be the pontiff praying, eyes closed, with his head against a wall. It wasn’t the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest site and a necessary stop for visiting dignitaries. It was Israel’s security fence in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Francis, who has made tolerance a theme since becoming pope last year, aimed to bring a message of peace when he visited Israel, the West Bank and Jordan over the weekend. But the Israeli-Palestinian conflict loomed over his visit as leaders on both sides aimed to present him with their narrative of the conflict. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asked Francis in a speech for help in “bringing the Israeli occupation to a complete end.” Palestinian authorities then took the pope to a walled segment of Israel’s West Bank security fence, where he prayed near graffiti comparing the wall to the Warsaw Ghetto. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the pope that barriers were erected to protect civilians, and at the Israeli leader’s request, Francis made an unscheduled stop Monday at a memorial for terror victims during an already packed itinerary. “We don’t teach our children to plant bombs,” Netanyahu said, standing alongside the pope at the memorial. “We teach them peace. But we have to build a wall against those who teach the other side.” For his part, Francis offered symbolic gestures to both sides. On Sunday, the pope entered the West Bank directly from Jordan rather than stopping first in Israel as previous popes had done, and he referred to the “state of Palestine” in a speech in Bethlehem. In Israel, he became the first pope to lay a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, and made the standard stops at the Western Wall and the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. He also invited Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres to a prayer summit for peace at the Vatican next month. Both leaders accepted the invitation despite the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations last month. This last paragraph spells out the two most important happenings that took place during his visit. The invitation to Abbas and Peres, according to a later report was previously unscripted by the Pope. According to an interview that took place while he was on the way back to Rome, he merely thought about it during his meeting with Abbas and felt it would be helpful. Since both have accepted, the question is, what, if anything will come of it. I doubt that 11
very much will result. However, the peace process is at a dead stop at the moment. Perhaps the meeting will act as a new starting point – though I doubt it.
Peres, now age 90, is about to retire from his presidency. What power he has is symbolic and not political. If the expected prayer meeting (that’s what it’s billed as) included Netanyahu that would be very different. However, a prayer for peace session can’t hurt. Who knows? Maybe something will come of it. In my opinion, the more important event was the laying of a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism”. By doing so the Pope clearly put himself among those who recognize Zionism as the political underpinning of the Jewish State. Throughout much of the world the term Zionism has become a negative one.. Obviously, not so for the Pope who, by doing what he did, has become a symbolic supporter. That’s strong medicine in my book. RABBI SKORKA Much was made of the fact that the Pope brought an old friend, Rabbi Avraham Skorka with him on the trip. According to Haaretz, “…Skorka, who has known and worked with Francis for two decades, describes the pope as a man with a deep knowledge and respect of Jewish tradition and law. The 63-year-old rabbi accompanied Francis during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land and on Monday shared an emotional embrace with the pope in front of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. "I dreamed about it and he made that dream his own," Skorka said of that iconic moment. "We wanted to create an image that would have the power to inspire others to embrace their fellow men." Though he hadn't spoken with the pope since his departure a few hours earlier, Skorka told Haaretz that Francis seemed "satisfied" with the trip, especially because he had successfully invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas to join him at the Vatican next month to pray together for peace. In a wide-ranging interview, Skorka said he hopes the visit will also herald stronger ties between Jews and the Catholic Church. Francis, he says would like the two sides to engage in deeper dialogue, including on theological issues such as the interpretation of the Bible and Jewish law, as well as the fundamental differences between the two religions. "Their intention is to let us speak like brothers, not with the intention to convert each other, but to learn about each other," he said.
The rabbi noted that since the 1960s the Church has made great strides in its attitude toward the Jewish people, culminating with Pope John Paul II's request for forgiveness for the suffering inflicted upon the Jews in past centuries. The rabbi, a PhD in chemistry who leads a Conservative community in Buenos Aires and is the rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminar, has been working for years to build bridges between the two faiths. There is much more to the interview Haaretz had with Rabbi Skorka. You can read it by clicking here. http://www.jta.org/2014/05/27/news-opinion/israel-middle-east/in-mideast-visit-popefrancis-makes-symbolic-gestures-to-both-sides In conclusion, I believe that the Popeâ€™s trip was a success. He has established himself as a friend of the Jewish people and that is enough for me. He seems as if he is a man of today who is open to change and progress. That should prove to be a gigantic plus for the millions of Catholics throughout the world whom he leads. ************************************************************************************************* See you again June. DuBow Digest is written and published by Eugene DuBow who can be reached at email@example.com Both the American and Germany editions are posted at www.dubowdigest.typepad.com