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Methodist Leader Believes Another Holocaust is Possible

July 30, 1974
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dr. Bernhard E. Olson, national director of Interreligious Affairs for the National Conference of Christians and Jews, believes another holocaust is possible, says the last holocaust pointed out the failure of the church and contends that anti-Semitism is a continuing problem in America. Dr. Olson expresses these views in an interview scheduled for broadcast tomorrow on New York’s WEVD-radio as part of the station’s public affairs programming, from 9:35-10:00 PM.

The 64-year-old Methodist minister, considered the country’s foremost Christian authority on Christian-Jewish relations, is the author of the monumental book, “Faith and Prejudice,” which exposed and evaluated the images and depictions of other religious communities, especially Jewish, that pupils and teachers received from Protestant church publications. The book revealed that Protestant churches were teaching deadly forms of prejudice and the work subsequently forced a complete re-evaluation of Protestant Sunday school materials.

Discussing the church struggle and the holocaust, a subject upon which he convened a top level conference with scholars from around the world earlier this year. Dr. Olson says: “The holocaust is a Judgement upon the Christian church. It was a tragedy for the Jew, but it was (also) a tragedy for the church. It pointed out the failure of the church.”

Almost all young people today have no idea what the holocaust is all about, he said. “If they were to look at a film depicting the holocaust, they would think it’s fiction. To examine the church struggle and the holocaust is to continually examine ourselves so we can prevent not merely another holocaust, but so we can prevent any trend toward to totalitarianism of either right or left in this country.” Dr. Olson also expresses belief that another holocaust is possible, adding, “The Jews in the Middle East are afraid (that) another holocaust will take place right there.”


Israel is in a very precarious position. Dr. Olson continues, “Israel has had to make all the concessions so far and it seems as though a great many of the Arab leaders are really opting for obliteration of Israel as a nation. Detente in that area is a one-way street so far,” he states.

Questioned as to whether he was fearful that America might opt for oil rather than Israel, Dr. Olson replies: “We may not opt for oil so much as opting for other things. But oil is a consideration. I don’t think we would necessarily sell (out) Israel for a barrel of oil, but we might. I think there is a power struggle there; a power struggle between East and West. There is a lot more at stake there than oil.”

He terms anti-Semitism a continuing problem in America, noting that prejudice today, particularly anti-Semitism, is not socially acceptable. “When anti-Semites express themselves, they have to do so in socially acceptable terms insofar as that is possible,” Dr. Olson explains. This doesn’t mean that every criticism of the State of Israel or every criticism of Zionism is a manifestation of anti-Semitism, but it does mean that anti-Semites find it more socially acceptable to camouflage their anti-Semitism by criticism of Zionism or what they may call Zionist policies and you can tell that it’s anti-Semitic by examining their statements in detail.”

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