Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Polish priest finds his way home -- to Israel

A Polish Priest’s Dream of Aliyah Adopted To Survive Shoah, Jewish-Born Catholic Struggles - Donald Snyder (The Forward):
When Romuald Jakub Weksler-Waszkinel applied to immigrate to Israel as a Jew under the Law of Return last October, Israeli authorities delayed responding to his request for months.

Perhaps it was the priest’s white-band collar around his neck that had something to do with this.

Yet ultimately, Israel’s Interior Ministry did issue the 66-year-old Polish cleric, scholar and professor at Catholic University of Lublin a two-year residency visa. It was, it seems, an imperfect compromise with a priest who insists: “I am Jewish. And my mother and father were Jewish. I feel Jewish.”

Speaking through an interpreter during a phone interview, he said, “Going to Israel would be the return of the Jewish child who took the long way home.”

Read the rest.


Israeli Ambassador Mordechai Lewy on Catholic-Jewish relations

Mordechay Lewy, a longtime Israeli diplomat who serves as Israel's ambassador to the Holy See, was recently interviewed by the Boston Globe's Michael Paulson. Topics included the administrative powers of the Pope ("From the books you can see that it is an absolute monarchy, but it is not. Far, far from that") to Israel's interest in preserving its Christian population ("It's not a question. We are obliged to") to the thorny matter of visas and the Pope's remarks on the Holocaust ("What he contributed at Yad Vashem was a completely different approach which was an enrichment to the culture of memory, ... a wake-up from an unexpected corner for people to think a little bit differently") to the controversy involving Pope Pius XI ("It is wrong to look for any affinity between him and the Nazis. It is also wrong to say that he didn’t save Jews").

On a humorous note, there is also this:

Q: What do you actually do on a day to day basis?

A: (laughs) Try to convince Jews that the menorah is not any more in the cellar of the Vatican Museum. I'm not joking. I've had very many requests of that kind. To intervene, to find it, and to bring it back in a diplomatic pouch. There is a legend that says the menorah from the Second Temple, after the destruction, was the war booty of Titus, brought to Rome, was shown where war victories were shown, in a temple of peace. It's shown in the Arch of Titus.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, June 8, 2009


  • Ministry for Finance seizes Church funds. Holy See-Israeli negotiations at stake June 8, 2009. Only weeks after Benedict XVI’s visit to Israel, Tax Chief Yehezkel Abrahamoff, has seized church funds to force ecclesial institutions to pay tax, instead of waiting for the outcome of negotiations on the fiscal statute of the Church in Israel. A personal initiative or a change in the policy of the Netanyahu government? Possibile problems for schools and hospitals.
  • Israel rescinds order to freeze Church funds in the Holy Land June 8, 2009. Israel’s Embassy to the Holy See releases statement saying that Church funds will not be frozen, that the current “situation remains unchanged.” Foreign Ministry blames the incident on a “misunderstanding.” Father Jaeger hopes talks between the Holy See and Israel will continue till an agreement is reached, including the tax status of the Church.
Both stories posted to AsiaNews.it within hours of each other.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Debunking the Casualty Statistics of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights

A blogger by the name of Elder of Ziyon has been investigating the list of Palestinian dead from the Israeli-Hamas conflict in Gaza in December '08-January '09, discovering the hundreds of those who were reported as "civilians" were, in fact, armed militants:
Our team cross-checked the names listed by PCHR with lists of "resisters" compiled by the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, lists of "martyrs" published by Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees and other militant groups in Gaza, as well as from the Ma'an News Agency, Palestinian Arabic discussion groups and other sources.

Our preliminary results show that at least 287 of the people killed, that PCHR classifies as "civilians," were, in fact, militants.

PCHR's criteria to determine exactly who is a "militant" is unclear. They seem to claim that they are only counting those whom they had direct evidence were engaging in hostilities at the moment of their deaths, but this is far from clear. At any rate, the term "militant" is not a legal term, and in common usage it refers to anyone who belongs to a military or paramilitary group. The PCHR's statistics are deceptive and slanted towards creating a false impression of IDF brutality.

Read the rest.