As reported in this space last week, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has caved in to the Pope’s demand that Israel tone down its celebration of 3,000 years of Jerusalem. So why is he buckling under? Here is a hunch! The Daily Telegraph, a highly respected British newspaper, reported recently -- as was rumored for a long time -- that Peres has the ambition to run for secretary general of the United Nations after Boutros Boutros Ghali steps down. Just as the world thought that getting the Nobel Peace Prize would satisfy Peres’ personal ambitions, a new, even greater and more dangerous ambition surfaces. For getting the Nobel Prize he sacrificed Jewish security and lives by the flawed Oslo Agreement. To get the U.N. post he must get the votes of all Catholic nations and Arab nations. Imagine how many concessions he has to make to gain their votes? It is frightening to think about it ... But his buckling under to the pope and being ready to give up or curtail the most cherished celebration of Jewish pride is a sign of how far he is ready to go to satisfy his ego trip to gain the votes of Catholic countries.
One cannot help but compare the spectacle of a Jewish foreign minister giving in to Catholic pressure to what took place in November 1947, when a Catholic foreign minister, Oswaldo Aranha of Brazil, steered the U.N. vote in favor of the Partition Plan. It was Aranha who personally lobbied all the Catholic South American countries to cast their vote for a Jewish State -- and he won!
Some years later, in 1953, my wife and I had an occasion to learn an amazing detail about that historic vote. We met with Oswaldo Aranha, then Brazil’s minister of finance, who revealed to us a marvelous story. Aranha was born in Receife, the capital of Pernambuco, in Northeastern Brazil, where tens of thousands of Jews had found refuge from the dreaded Portuguese Inquisition, 500 years ago. For a while Pernambuco was occupied by Holland and the secret Jews could surface and practice Judaism freely. But when the Catholic Portuguese re-conquered Pernambuco, the Jews either fled -- part of them to New Amsterdam, now New York -- or went underground again. The Aranha family did the latter.
Aranha told us that his aged mother was a very Bible-believing lady, probably influenced by her Jewish pedigree. She would call her son every day in New York, where he presided over the U.N. General Assembly, and told him, "My son, it is your duty to help the Jews get back their land -- do everything to persuade your colleagues to vote for the Partition Plan!" As a good son, he could not resist her admonitions -- and that is how the Jews won the U.N. vote for their own land! What a difference between 1947, when the memory of Christian guilt for the Holocaust was still fresh, and 1995, when the Catholic world has forgotten its guilt.
The Europeans, on whose soil the Holocaust took place, have gone on record that they will boycott the celebration of 3,000 years of Jerusalem, the Jewish capital. The Dutch government -- on whose soil Anne Frank suffered martyrdom -- is especially taking an extremely hostile stance. And think back to all the sugar-sweet assurances of compassion and love for Jews that have oozed out of those countries since 1945! The Bible says, "Chesed le’umim chatat" ("The kindness of the Gentiles is sinful.")) All these incidents we are witnessing show that nothing has really changed in the minds of many of them.
One reason the Vatican is giving for wanting to suppress “Jerusalem 3000" is that the Church itself is planning a celebration -- the 1,000th anniversary of the "presence" of the Church in Jerusalem.
But what happened 1,000 hears ago? The Crusaders, who fought all the way from Europe to the Gates of Jerusalem, spilled oceans of Jewish blood on their way. The Jewish communities along the Rhine River -- especially Mainz, Speyer and Worms -- had been massacred. "Why wait until we reach Jerusalem, why not take revenge on the killers of Jesus wherever we can find them on the way?!" was the cry of these virtuous Knights of the Cross.
And when they finally captured Jerusalem in 1099 -- what is now to be celebrated as their "presence" there -- they killed all the Jews in the city by setting a synagogue afire into which they had herded the entire community. This is to be celebrated as a millennium anniversary -- and the pope asks the Jews to make room for that atrocious anniversary by downplaying our own 3,000-hear anniversary. How much degradation and historical insult are the Jews supposed to tolerate?
The Vatican has also announced that it plans to celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus. Their demands about "Jerusalem 3000" might be a preview of what is to come in a few years, the Church expecting us to vacate the scene to make room for the celebration of the birth of the one Jew who probably brought more suffering, deaths and persecution on Jews than any other human being. In the process, they are forgetting that if Jerusalem had not been in Jewish hands 2,000 years ago, together with the Holy Temple, there would be no Christian religion today.
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