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The New Pope and Anti-Semitism

Tuesday, 19 April 2005 12:00 AM

How can the decision to join the Hitler Youth corps be the responsibility of a child? The Nazis brilliantly exploited German children with the games and military outfits that most youngsters enjoy. Former New York Times Executive Editor Max Frankel, in the opening paragraph of his book "The Times of My Life and My Life With The Times," summed up a child's feelings at the time:

"I was not yet three years old when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, and I could have become a good little Nazi in his army. I loved the parades: I wept when other kids marched beneath our window without me. But I was ineligible for the Aryan race, the Master Race that Hitler wanted to purify of Jewish blood and other pollutants so that it could rule the world for ‘a thousand years.'"

The leader of the Hitler Jugend, Balder von Shirach, was convicted at Nuremberg after the war and sentenced to 20 years in prison. However, the Allies did not find that the Hitler Jugend organization itself was a criminal organization.

If Cardinal Ratzinger had not joined the Hitler Youth, it would have been because his parents kept him out, which some – but very few – parents did. While Germans were not automatically jailed or shot for such conduct, you can be sure that refusing to cooperate with the Nazi authorities would have subjected them to adversity. Very few people had the courage to stand up to the Nazi murderers, especially when their children's lives were involved.

One of the highest priorities of the new pope hopefully will be to maintain a close relationship between Jews and Catholics, an effort begun by Pope John XXIII and vastly expanded by Pope John Paul II. I hope it is seen as a priority by the new pope. Of course, the new pope will continue to seek a reconciliation with other Christian faiths and a continuing dialogue with the representatives of Islam.

Cardinal Ratzinger in his homily delivered immediately before the conclave said he does not believe in syncretism, the attempt to reconcile different faiths. He probably would not attend on any occasion the service of another faith.

He is not alone in this position. Orthodox rabbis (but not Conservative or Reform rabbis) take the same position, as do some Protestant clergy. Indeed, some would go so far as to seek to punish a member of their sect if he were to participate in or even attend a joint service commemorating a public event, including memorializing a tragedy such as 9/11.

Pope John Paul II visited a Roman synagogue – the first pope to do so – and placed a written prayer in a crevice of the Western Wall. That, for me, set the standard. It is my hope that Cardinal Ratzinger as pope will follow in John Paul's footsteps, and that others, Jewish and Protestant, will embrace, as John Paul II did, members of other faiths, remembering that we will all ultimately answer to the same God.

Lenora Fulani is once again in the news. Last year, Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote a letter published in The New York Times. Mr. Foxman wrote, "Ms. Fulani has stated that Jews ‘had to sell their souls to acquire Israel and are required to do the dirtiest work of capitalism – to function as mass murderers of people of color – in order to keep it.'"

I was shocked at Ms. Fulani's clearly anti-Semitic statement and wrote to the chair of the Independence Party, stating in part:

"A Daily News article of December 7 written by Lisa Colangelo states, ‘Party representatives have said the quotes were taken out of context.' I would appreciate knowing the proper context of Dr. Fulani's remarks referred to by ‘party representatives.' I cannot conceive of any context in which Ms. Fulani's comments could be perceived as other than anti-Semitic, but perhaps there was a unique context which gave the remarks a benign rather than a malignant meaning."

On December 16, 2004, Dr. Fulani wrote, "The context of the remark quoted by Mr. Foxman in his April 20, 2004 letter to the New York Times is a theatre review I wrote in 1989. The play, No Room for Zion, was written by Fred Newman and was produced that year at the Castillo Theatre. The play was part memoir, part political critique of the Jewish experience in the post-war period. My review dealt specifically with the issue of nationalism and its dangers. In this case I was remarking on how black America should learn from the tragedies experienced by Jewish people. I wrote:

‘As I sat and listened I saw more deeply in Fred's teaching the historical pitfalls of nationalism. After all, according to nationalistic ideology, the Jewish people have gotten the ultimate – land, in the form of a nation state. The fact is, however, that they had to sell their souls to acquire Israel and are required to do the dirtiest work of capitalism – to function as mass murderers of people of color – in order to keep it.'

"Because my comment was about the play and, more importantly, because the production was an expression of Newman's views which have significantly shaped my own, I asked him to write to you to provide the larger historical and intellectual ‘context' in which both the play and my review were written. I have enclosed his letter, which I hope will shed further light on the issue at hand."

Newman's letter stated: "‘The dirtiest work of capitalism – to which Dr. Fulani referred in her article – ‘to function as mass murders of people of color' is to act as its garrison state in an increasingly hostile and unstable Arab and Muslim world. The language is harsh. The reality, as we now see, is even more harsh."

Mr. Newman closed with "Perhaps this brings us to a bottom line. It may be that my views – the views of a leftist – are distasteful to you and that you would choose to criticize me for them. That, of course, is your prerogative."

This year, Dr. Fulani defended her earlier remarks and stated recently that she still believes her statement on Jews and Israel to be correct. Independence Party members should join together and do their utmost to wrench control of the party away from Dr. Fulani. That contest should begin right after the November general election if not before.

In the meanwhile, all who are now interested in an Independence Party designation as a second line on the ballot should join together in an effort to oust Dr. Fulani. They should also consider applying to the Liberal Party, which is in the process of being reconstituted and has a name which should be even more comfortable for independents, especially those appalled by Dr. Fulani and her radical supporters.

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How can the decision to join the Hitler Youth corps be the responsibility of a child?The Nazis brilliantly exploited German children with the games and military outfits that most youngsters enjoy.Former New York Times Executive Editor Max Frankel, in the opening paragraph...
The,New,Pope,and,Anti-Semitism
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2005-00-19
Tuesday, 19 April 2005 12:00 AM
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