Saturday, December 11, 2010

Middle East: World Jewish Congress Meets With Pope, asks him to speak out against the "delegitimization of Israel"

Source: World Jewish Congress

The leadership of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) was received by Pope Benedict XVI in private audience at the Vatican this morning. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, who was accompanied by WJC Secretary General Designate Dan Diker and Deputy Secretary General Maram Stern, raised his concern at the growing political assault on Israel's legitimacy.

Lauder asked the Pope to speak out against the delegitimization of Israel and especially the denial of Jewish holy sites such as the Temple Mount and the Western Wall as well as the Tomb of Rachel the matriarch in Bethlehem, which is holy to Jews and also to Christians. "We discussed critical issues affecting world Jewry," said Lauder, "and we expressed to the Pope how much we value the close relationship we have enjoyed with the Vatican over many years in our quest for a secure Israel and a safer future for Jews everywhere."

Pope Benedict emphasized the need to continue to combat anti-Semitism in the Christian world, which he characterized as unacceptable. Diker voiced the deep concern of Jews everywhere, and especially in Israel, about the political assault on Israel as the nation state of the Jewish People and asked that the Church take a lead role in combating this new "politically correct" form of anti-Semitism. "The ongoing assault against the State of Israel has triggered dangerous aftershocks in Jewish communities around the world," explained Diker.

Benedict responded that the Church recognizes the deep and historical connection of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland, the Holy Land, going back to the time of Abraham, and expressed his commitment to help foster understanding of the bond between the nation of Israel and the land of Israel among people throughout the world.

President Lauder also expressed concern that both Christians and Jews in the Middle East face the threat of Radical Islam and expressed his sympathies over the murder of Christian leaders in Iraq and Turkey, noting with concern the drop in the number of Christians living in Bethlehem.

The pontiff expressed the importance of Jews and Catholics working together to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms, noting again the patrimony of Judaism to Christianity, and indicated that Jews and Christians need one another, adding that the bonds of brotherhood and goodwill between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people should continue to be strengthened.

About the World Jewish Congress

The World Jewish Congress is the organization representing Jewish communities in 92 countries around the world. The WJC serves as the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people to governments, parliaments and international organizations and has been at the forefront of dialogue with other faiths, notably with the Catholic Church, for decades.