Christian Study Group Defends Israel Statement Hailed by B’nai B’rith ADL

The B’nai B’rith’s Anti-Defamation League has welcomed a statement by a group of leading Christian scholars denying that Israel’s policy is one of belligerence and warning that “anti-Semitism is a Pandora’s box from which spring out not only atrocities against Jews but also contempt for Christ.”

The statement, by the 18-member Israel Study Group, asserts that Israel’s sovereignty is valid “on moral and juridical grounds,” that “Christian hostility and indifference” to Israel constitute “a major source of friction in contemporary Christian-Jewish relations,” and that “the fierce persecution” of Jews by Christians has reflected “gross ignorance of Jewish history and religion.”

Rabbi Solomon S. Bernards, director of ADL’s Interreligious Cooperation Department, said the statement was “an exceptionally sensitive and insightful appreciation of Jewish faith, affirmation and self-understanding.” The Israel Study Group, currently chained by the Rev. John T. Pawlikowski, of the Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, was formed two years ago by the Commission on-Faith and Order of the National Council of Churches and the Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations. Its statement made several other points:

Even underground, as now, anti-Semitism is “a difficult virus to counterattack,” having “a pervasiveness that infects our whole civilization.” But fortunately “some Christian churches are working hard” to excise anti-Semitic references from liturgy and education.

WARNS JEWS MAY BE MADE SCAPEGOATS

Christianity “is rooted in the life of the People Israel,” and “it is a tragedy of history that Jesus, our bond of unity with the Jews, has all too often become a symbol and source of division and bitterness because of human weakness and pride.”

“Two religious traditions, not a single Judeo-Christian tradition, have shaped our culture,” and “one’s understanding of the spiritual nature of the human person remains incomplete without the other,” Jewish worship and life are “authentic forms of service to the true God.” The statement warned that if inflation and unemployment worsen or another depression sets in “we can be fairly sure that the radical right and/or the radical left will make Jews out to be the culprits.”

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