Italian Rabbinate: Pope’s distance is not equal

“We are asking ourselves what use has been made of decades of Jewish-Christian dialogue, speaking of friendship and brotherhood, if, in reality, when Jews are facing extermination, instead of receiving closeness and understanding, they are presented with diplomatic acrobatics, political tightropes, and icy equidistance, which is certainly a distant stance, but not equally”. This was the question that was raised by the Assembly of Italian Rabbis (Ari), in a note criticizing the way the Vatican City handled the visit of the family members of some Israeli hostages, who met the Pope in the Domus Sanctae Marthae on November 22. “The Pope finally met with the relatives of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas, after it had been long-requested and always postponed, and this visit was possible because it was followed by a meeting with the relatives of some Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, as reported by the Pope. This way innocent people, who were torn away from their families, were placed on the same level of those who are being detained often because of extremely severe terrorist acts. And immediately afterwards, the Pope publicly accused both sides of terrorism,” the Italian rabbis reproached. We are talking about stances of the very highest level, the note continues, “which follow the footsteps of problematic declarations made by eminent representatives of the Church, in which there is either no trace of a condemnation of the Hamas aggression, or, in the name of a presumed impartiality, the aggressor and the aggresse are put on the same level.” On the same day of the meeting, Ucei President Noemi Di Segni addressed the issue in a statement to the Ansa news agency, which was quoted in many newspapers. “The Pope puts both parties on the same starting and ending point. However, as a starting point we do have the terror that executes the plan to exterminate the Jews worldwide. The war, instead, is a necessary mean to protect Israel and its people,” Di Segni stressed, adding: “The victims must be differentiated from those who are truly responsible.”
(In the picture: Rabbi Alfonso Arbib, President of Ari)

Translation by Martina Bandini, revised by Annadora Zuanel, students at the Secondary School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators of the University of Trieste, interns at the newspaper office of the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities – Pagine Ebraiche.