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Pitch for Hope competition calls on youth in UK, US, and Israel to propose creative ideas for curbing racism and anti-Semitism in sports

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Pitch for Hope competition calls on youth in UK, US, and Israel to propose creative ideas for curbing racism and anti-Semitism in sports

NEW YORK – Chelsea Football Club and The World Jewish Congress today launched the international Pitch for Hope competition
the first stage of a three-pronged joint initiative on combating the widespread phenomenon of racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and anti-Semitism in sports, under the banner Red Card for Hate.

Pitch for Hope is a hothouse of ideas, calling on young people ages 18-30 in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Israel to submit proposals for a unique and creative project to harness the spirit of comradery in sports to build bridges between people of all backgrounds, faiths, and walks of life.

In the UK and the US, Chelsea FC and the WJC have been reaching out to potential participants representing institutions working toward coexistence, including Jewish and Muslim organizations, as well as leading educational institutes. The competition in Israel will draw participants from minority groups in the peripheral north and south of the country, and people of all religions – including Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze – as well as members of the lower socio-economic strata, and will take a focus on the visual arts.

Finalists will be invited to present their proposals at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge stadium in London to a panel of judges representing the WJC and Chelsea FC in September. The winners from each country will receive a $10,000 grant from Chelsea FC and the World Jewish Congress to develop and implement their pilot project.

The competition will expand to Germany and France for a following round next year, following high-demand from football clubs across Europe.

This initiative was made possible due to a generous contribution from Chelsea FC Club owner Roman Abramovich and World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder.

WJC CEO Robert Singer said: “Anti-Semitism is as dangerous in the sporting world as it is in civil society, and both are growing at alarming rates. It is our duty, as fans and as teams alike, to work together to put an immediate stop to this phenomenon. The World Jewish Congress and Chelsea Football Club are committed to sending a clear message that the spirit of sport must be tolerance and respect, not hatred and xenophobia. We look forward to seeing the creative proposals submitted by our participants, and are confident that working together, we will make a difference."

Chelsea FC Chairman Bruce Buck said: “We hope that our joint initiative will start a process that we believe is vital and long overdue. Change does not happen overnight, it takes time, education and understanding, and therefore we have devised the initiative as a long-term project that will grow and build, and hopefully inspire other clubs to follow our lead and create their own anti-Semitism initiatives, as well as working together with us on joint campaigns and activities.”
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WJC US renews calls to extradite accused Nazi criminal to Germany: ‘Justice must be served’

NEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress, United States has renewed its calls on the US government to deport a 94-year-old accused Nazi war criminal living in New York City, and is urging the German Interior Ministry to accept the extradition.
Jakiw Palij is alleged to have guarded the Trawinki death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943 and is the last accused Nazi concentration camp guard still known to be living in the United States.

“It is beyond disparaging that a convicted Nazi war criminal, who stood guard as more than 6,000 Jews were brutally murdered, should be allowed to live his final years in peace and freedom in the United States,” said Rabbi Joel Meyers, Chairman of World Jewish Congress, United States. “We urge both the US government and Germany to treat this issue with the priority deserved, and take all necessary steps to extradite this criminal and allow justice to be served."

US federal courts have concluded that Palij entered the United States illegally in 1949 after failing to disclose that he had worked at the Trawniki training camps for secret service troops who would carry out the extermination of Polish Jews. His deportation was ordered in 2004 but none of the three European countries to which he could be sent - Germany, Poland, and Ukraine - agreed to take him.
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President Reuven Rivlin welcomed a delegation of 140 Israel Bonds representatives from around the world

"I have witnessed the miracle of seeing the ‘desert bloom’, and the ‘hi-tech boom' - we could not have achieved all this without your support"

President Reuven Rivlin welcomed a delegation of 140 Israel Bonds representatives from around the world, led by the organization's president Izzy Tapuchi. President Rivlin congratulated the delegation on the 65th anniversary of Israel Bonds, and said, "I have witnessed the miracle of seeing the ‘desert bloom’, and the ‘hi-tech boom' - we could not have achieved all this without your support. Israel Bonds is not just a way to show support for Israel, it is a way to show faith in Israel; faith in our growth, faith in our development, and faith in our future."

Speaking of the socio-economic challenges Israel faced against a background of changes is Israeli society and gaps between the different communities, the President said, "The President's Office is proud to be involved in a number of projects, bridging the gaps; in schools and on the sports field, in the classroom and in the workplace."
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At Georgetown, WJC President Ronald Lauder Addresses Anti-Semitism, Attacks on Christians

WASHINGTON,  World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder addressed the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world, and the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, as part of the 2014-2015 Hal Israel Endowed Lectureship in Jewish-Catholic Relations at Georgetown University today.

The Hal Israel Lecture series seeks to facilitate dialogue and strengthen ties between Jews and Catholics, exploring the many ways in which members of these two faiths continue to replace ancient prejudices with cooperation and understanding in today's world.

This evening’s address took place after Lauder testified yesterday on the rise of European anti-Semitism in the wake of recent terror attacks in France and Denmark, before the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, chaired by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ).

The lecture series honors Hal Israel, who graduated from Georgetown University in 1992 and continued his studies at Yale University Law School, where he obtained his J.D. Upon graduation, he practiced law in Phoenix. Hal Israel was an active and involved lawyer and was devoted to helping others. Hal is survived by his wife Donna, two children, parents Lesley and Fred Israel, and his brother Sandy.
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WJC President Ronald S Lauder to Congress: Where is US?

“U.S. must condemn this evil for what it is -- the radical Islamic hatred of Jews”

WASHINGTON, In testimony before a key Congressional committee today, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder warned that radical Islam is fueling the flames of a new anti-Semitism engulfing Europe, and blasted the United States for failing to lead a fight to extinguish the threat.

Appearing on behalf of WJC – representing more than 100 Jewish communities worldwide – before the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, Lauder said: “In order to defeat this new flame of radical Islamic terror and survive, the United States must lead. The United States can and must speak loudly and clearly to condemn this evil for what it is – the radical Islamic hatred of Jews.”

Lauder’s remarks came in testimony today before the House subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), on the topic, “After Paris and Copenhagen, Responding to the Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism.” Also testifying on this issue were Roger Cukierman, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF), and Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, president of the Danish Jewish community.

Lauder said the recent deadly wave of terror attacks against Jewish targets in Copenhagen and Paris were only the latest signs of a rising wave of anti-Semitism sweeping across Europe. This new form of anti-Semitism is being driven by radical Islam, but pushed along by extreme nationalists on the right and anti-Israel intellectual elites in universities, he said.

“European leaders have stepped up and strongly condemned these attacks on Jews and the rise of anti-Semitism,” he said. “The United States must do the same. The United States must lead.”

Further, Lauder criticized the absence of any U.S. representation at the anti-terror march in Paris in the wake of the attacks on the satiric weekly Charlie Hebdo and on a kosher supermarket, which drew world leaders and over 1 million participants.

“Many of the leaders in Europe linked arms in solidarity in the very front row, but there was not one U.S. representative with them in the front row,” he said. “I believe that sent a very negative message around the world.”

Lauder cited a string of statistics behind the rising anti-Semitism. Jews represent less than one percent of the French population, but were targeted by more than 50 percent of all racist attacks last year. Anti-Semitic attacks in France, the U.S. and Austria all doubled from 2013, he added. In fact, an EU report from nine nations showed that 16 months ago – long before the latest wave of terror – Jews in these countries were already concerned about growing anti-Semitism.

Lauder concluded by urging the U.S. to take the lead in countering this trend. “Why isn’t the United States leading the world in this crisis?” he said.

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World Jewish Congress President Robert S. Lauder urges Danish governmet to secure Jewish community, Counter rising Anti-Semitic violance

Following the attacks at a synagogue and café in Copenhagen, Denmark on Saturday, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder strongly condemned the incidents and urged the Danish government to find those responsible while stepping up efforts to protect the local Jewish community against rising anti-Semitic violence.

“The World Jewish Congress deplores these despicable attacks, and stands in solidarity with the Jewish community and the people of Denmark,” said Lauder of the shooting at a synagogue in central Copenhagen, in which a civilian was killed and two police officers were injured, and an earlier attack. The synagogue shooting took place shortly after an earlier attack at a Copenhagen café where a Swedish artist who had produce caricatures of the prophet Mohammed was speaking at an event on freedom of speech. One person was killed and three police officers were injured in that attack. It is not yet clear if the two incidents were connected.

“We are confident the Danish government will take all necessary measures to bring those responsible for these attacks to justice, and we urge them to help secure the local Jewish community against anti-Semitic violence,” Lauder said.

“These attacks in Copenhagen follow the similar, brutal targeting of Jews and others in Paris and across Europe,” Lauder added. “European governments should recognize that we are facing a vicious new wave of anti-Semitism and violence. It is crucial that Europe contends with this growing threat.”

World Jewish Congress CEO Robert Singer visited Copenhagen late last year and discussed with Danish authorities the importance of heightening security measures for the local Jewish community.

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Terror attack on kosher supermarket in Paris, Victims to be buried in Israel

PM Netanyahu: The international community must take united action against the terrorists from extremist Islam and against the terrorist infrastructures that support them.
PM Netanyahu has acceded to the request of the families of the victims of the terrorist attack at the Jewish supermarket in Paris and instructed all relevant government officials to assist in bringing them for burial in Israel.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with French President Francois Hollande, who informed him that four hostages had been killed in the terrorist attack on a supermarket in Paris and that 15 hostages had been rescued.

Prime Minister Netanyahu began the conversation in French and told President Hollande, "The entire people of Israel are with you." He added, "Our hearts are with the families of the victims. Israel offers any assistance that France needs."

Prime Minister Netanyahu asked President Hollande to maintain heightened security at Jewish institutions even after the return to routine. The Prime Minister added that the international community must take united action against the terrorists from extremist Islam and against the terrorist infrastructures that support them, action that would strike at the sources of financing for terrorism and the network of incitement that encourages such acts.

Earlier, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and offered the State of Israel’s assistance in any sphere that the French authorities might require.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also spoke with his French counterpart about security at Jewish institutions in France and noted that it was essential to strike at the sources of financing for extremist Islamic terrorist organizations and to take action against the incitement in Europe that encourages such actions.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also spoke with CRIF President Roger Cukierman and French National Assembly member Meyer Habib and asked them to convey to the French Jewish community that the Israeli people are with them in this difficult hour. The Prime Minister also asked them to adhere to security directives at Jewish institutions.

Shortly after being updated on the terrorist attack at the kosher market, Prime Minister Netanyahu held a conference call with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Foreign Ministry Director General Nissim Ben-Shetrit, Mossad Director Tamir Pardo and National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen. The Prime Minister instructed that all possible assistance be granted to the French authorities and that security directives be underscored at Israeli missions and Jewish institutions.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement:

"On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I would like to send our condolences to the French Jewish community and the French people who have suffered a murderous terrorist assault in the last few days. These attacks in Paris are the continuation of extremist Islam’s war against our free civilization, in the West, in the entire modern world and also in the moderate Arab states and among entire publics in the Islamic world. This is a wave of terrorism that is spreading a global net of hatred, fanaticism and murder. After establishing its bases in the Middle East, terrorism is now sending its arms throughout the world. If the world does not take action quickly, we will find this terrorism gaining momentum and increasingly striking at other centers of the free world and in other places.

The terrorist organizations of extremist Islam have many and varied names - Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Nusra, Islamic Jihad and Boko Haram. They are all motivated by the same bloody hatred and the same fanaticism that knows no borders.

They want to take humanity 1,000 years backward to a dark tyranny that we freed ourselves from after many generations. They simply want to take humanity backward.

Further proof that these organizations are branches of the same poisonous tree may be seen in the fact that one of Hamas’s official organs praised the reprehensible murderers in Paris. It must be understood that this is a war against us all.

I am convinced that if we are united this terrorism will be unable to defeat us. But if we ignore the true root of the problem, if we ignore the fact that extremist Islamic terrorism seeks to exterminate Western civilization as a whole, including the Jewish People, if we ignore this - what we are now seeing in Paris will be only the beginning. These are not frightening words or prophecies of rage, this is the simple reality and the time has come to recognize it.

Last night I spoke with French Prime minister Manuel Valls and with French President Francois Hollande. I commended the determination with which the French authorities eliminated the terrorists, these murderers, and I also commended the courage of the French security services. But this is not enough. In order to fight terrorism, it is essential to strike at its sources of financing and at the centers of incitement that encourage these murderous acts throughout Europe. It is also essential to take action against countries that give support, shelter and passage to terrorism.

The first law is that it is forbidden to give in to the fear that it seeks to instil in us. In order to fight terrorism it is simply necessary to fight it. We express our deepest sorrow over the French citizens who were murdered, the journalists, the police officers and the innocent citizens who were murdered simply because they were citizens of the free world. We express our deepest sorrow over our Jewish brothers who were murdered simply because they were Jews. Our brothers and sisters in the French Jewish community, we grieve with you over the terrible loss. I would like to send condolences to the families of Yoav Hattab, Philippe Barham, Johan Cohen and Francois-Michel Saada. We also send our best wishes for a quick recovery to all the wounded.

This evening, I spoke by telephone with Celine Shreki, who was a hostage in the kosher market in the heart of Paris; she is recovering. She told me about the terrorist’s inconceivable cruelty and of the heroism of the young Jewish man who attempted to seize his weapon and shoot him; he was shot by the terrorist and died about 45 minutes later.

To Celine and all French Jews, and to all European Jews, I would like to say: The State of Israel is not just the place to which you turn in prayer. The State of Israel is also your home. This week, a special team of ministers will convene to advance steps to increase immigration from France and other countries in Europe that are suffering from terrible anti-Semitism. All Jews who want to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed here warmly and with open arms. We will help you in your absorption here in our state that is also your state."



President Rivlin speaks with French Jewish community heads in emergency meeting following terror attacks

President Reuven Rivlin spoke by telephone with the heads of CRIF, the French Jewish community organization, during their emergency meeting of over sixty community leaders, following the murderous attacks of the past week.

The President told them, "I speak to you tonight, not only as President of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people as a whole."

He continued, “We are all, here in Israel, grieving and hurting with you, we share in the sorrow of the families, the Jewish community, and of the French people. We are one family and our pain is severe. In moments such as these, we are ever aware of the responsibility we have to one another, and the deep bond that connects us as one.

“These most recent events make plain that terrorism is terrorism. It does not distinguish between blood, and it threatens indiscriminately across the world. These attacks weigh heavily on the understanding of the extent of the spread of fundamentalism. Attacks on newspapers, just as attacks on supermarkets full of innocent civilians preparing for the Sabbath, are not events that humanity can tolerate. We must not give in to terrorism in any way, shape or form, and we will overcome this threat."

The President concluded, “Tonight, the State of Israel is by your side, just as you stand by us in difficult times. As one family, we feel pain together, as we well know - but moreover we know, that we rejoice together too - and together, tonight we will pray, for happier times, and for comfort.

The community leaders joined in the President's prayer, and thanked him for his warm words.
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Jew in the City Awards Top 10 Orthodox Jewish All Stars For 2014

Third Annual “Orthodox Jewish All Stars” awards and gala in NYC celebrates Jewish pride amid growing anti-Semitism


New York,  More than 300 Jews from across the religious spectrum from Hasidic to secular gathered for the Third Annual Orthodox Jewish All Stars Awards red-carpet event this week at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, honoring those who proudly observe Jewish tradition while rising to the heights of their professions. Jew in the City, the organization dedicated to re-branding Orthodox Jews and Judaism through digital media, hosted the gala.

Among this year’s 10 Orthodox Jewish All Stars are Forbes magazine-ranked hedge fund manager and philanthropist Henry Swieca; BCBGeneration Creative Director Joyce Azria; and Columbia Law School Dean Emeritus David Schizer. This diverse and accomplished group also includes: Saul Blinkoff, Disney animator and film director; Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin, 2014 Israel Prize winner in medicine who developed a drug to slow dementia caused by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; Yael Federbush, four-time Emmy-winning producer at “The Today Show”; Professor Barry Simon, 2012 Henri Poincaré prize winner for outstanding achievements in mathematical physics; Josh Meier, 4th place winner of the 2014 Intel Prize and named “One of the Eight Whiz Kids Who Are the Future of Medicine” by CNN; Estee Ackerman, table tennis phenom ranked sixth in the country in her division and a 2016 Olympic hopeful; and Mindy Pollak, a Montreal councilwoman who made history last fall as the first Hasidic woman ever to be elected to public office.
“When we created this award in 2012, we focused on shattering people’s misconceptions about Orthodox Jews and what they could accomplish professionally. Last year, when Chanukah historically intersected with Thanksgiving, we celebrated the religious freedoms that exist in the world today, which allow people of all faiths to excel in a variety of career paths.” said Allison Josephs, Jew in the City founder and director.
“This year, our message is our most crucial one yet: With anti-Semitic attacks on the rise across the globe, we are celebrating 10 individuals who proudly observe Jewish traditions as they’ve soared to the tops of their fields.”
Adds Josephs: “Increased anti-Semitism is a threat to all Jews and should concern all good people, but the reality is that those who look the most Jewish (i.e. the Orthodox Jewish community) are the most visible targets. These Orthodox Jewish All Stars serve as a poignant reminder that you can be a proud religious Jew and still be highly successful. No one should feel the need to hide his Judaism or observance. We must never cower in the face of anti-Semitism."
Past Orthodox Jewish All Stars have included former Senator Joe Lieberman, Top Ten Billboard Recording Artist Alex Clare, New York Times bestselling novelist, and Faye Kellerman who all appeared in the inaugural All Stars video in 2012. Last year’s list included Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Nobel Laureate Robert Aumann, and advertising agency 360i CEO, Sarah Hofstetter.
Many of this year's and previous year's All Stars and other prominent guests attended the awards party in downtown Manhattan Dec. 2, including nine of the latest winners. Notables included Ethan Zohn, a “Survivor Africa” winner, cancer survivor and founder of the organization “Grassroots Soccer”; the Hasidic girl-band “Bullet-Proof Stockings”; and a member of the YouTube sensations the Maccabeats.
Attendees enjoyed music, wine, and a dairy Chanukah-themed dinner including latke and donut bars. The event was emceed by Hasidic comic Mendy Pellin, a 2012 Orthodox Jewish All Star who the New York Times called “Stephen Colbert with a beard and a black hat.” A short film featuring several of the All Stars and how they’ve balanced career and observance premiered at the gala as well.

The Complete List of 2014 Orthodox Jewish All Stars:

Business and Industry:

Joyce Azria, Henry Swieca

Law and Government:

Mindy Pollack, David Schizer

Sports and Entertainment:

Estee Ackerman, Saul Blinkoff, Yael Federbush

Science and Medicine:

Josh Meier, Barry Simon, Marta Weinstock-Rosin
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Outrage in France after brutal attack against Jewish couple near Paris

France is in shock after a young Jewish couple was assaulted in what police are treating as an anti-Semitic attack.

WJC, Two adult men from Créteil, the Paris suburb where the attack took place, have been arrested by police in connection with the crime while a third suspect is still being sought.
The attack occurred on Monday. Three men armed with a pistol and a shotgun stormed the home of a Jewish family in Créteil, one of the eastern outskirts of French capital. After knocking on the door of the apartment and then breaking in, they demanded money and shouted anti-Semitic insults.

One of the sons in the family, 21 years of age, was there at the time with his 19-year-old girlfriend while the parents were away. One of the assailants proceeded to withdraw money from the nearest ATM with the couple's stolen debit cards while the two others remained in the apartment with the couple. The duo then raped the woman and tied up the man. After hearing them scream, a neighbor called the police.

According to a report by France's BFM website, the assailants targeted this particular couple because they mistakenly thought the male victim, a salesman at a popular clothing store at the Creteil mall, was the store's manager and had access to large amounts of money. Before the rape, the men demanded that the couple hand over their credit cards and codes, the couple later told police.

"Tell us where you hide the money," said one of the assailants during the robbery, according to one of the victims' friends in the BFM report. "You Jews always have money.”

Reactions

The French Jewish umbrella organization CRIF strongly condemned what it termed “a savage anti-Semitic aggression” and urged authorities to act against growing anti-Semitism in the country:

“Anti-Semitism is continuing to rage across our country: Anti-Semitic prejudice is becoming stronger and increasingly perturbing, as revealed a recent survey of Fondapol/Ifop about anti-Semitism in France. We call for a specific plan to be urgently put in place whose aim it must be to deploy unprecedented judicial and police measures to reverse this trend. The CRIF expresses its support to the victims and their families,” the CRIF statement said.

France has seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitism in recent years, and it flared particularly during this Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip, with violent protests in Paris and other French cities.

On Thursday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned the attack as “vile” and said that it demonstrated that the fight against anti-Semitism was a daily struggle.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a statement on Wednesday that the attack’s "anti-Semitic nature seems proven" as the assailants had "started with the idea that being Jewish means having money.”
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Pope Francis wants to open Holocaust-era Vatican archives as quickly as possible

WJC, Pope Francis has reiterated his position to open the secret Vatican archives covering the period of World War II to allow researchers to assess the role played by Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust.

In an extensive interview with the Israeli newspaper 'Yediot Ahronot', Francis said there was "an agreement between the Vatican and Italy from 1929 that prevents us from opening the archives to researchers at this point in time. But because of the time that has passed since World War II, I see no problem with opening the archives the moment we sort out the legal and bureaucratic matters."

The pope expressed worries that the current debate about Pius XII was not fair. "One thing worries me, and I'll be honest with you – the image of Pope Pius XII. Ever since Rolf Hochhuth wrote the play The Deputy in 1963, poor Pope Pius XII has been accused of all sorts of things (including having been aware of the extermination of the Jews and doing nothing). I'm not saying he didn't make mistakes. He made a few. I get things wrong often too. But prior to the release of the play, he was considered a big defender of the Jews.

"During the Holocaust, Pius gave refuge to many Jews in monasteries in Italy. In the Pope's bed at Castel Gandolfo, 42 small children were born to couples who found refuge there from the Nazis. These are things that people don't know. When Pius XII died, Golda Meir sent a letter that read: 'We share in the pain of humanity. When the Holocaust befell our people, the Pope spoke out for the victims.' But then along came this theater performance, and everyone turned their backs on Pius XII.

"And again, I'm not saying that he didn't make mistakes. But when you interpret history, you need to do so from the way of thinking of the time in question. I can't judge historical events in modern-day terms. It doesn't work. I'll never get to the truth like that. Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, once gave me a copy of the book he wrote about the Inquisition. I read it studiously. I'm not saying we should justify the actions of the Inquisition, but we need to investigate this period with the right tools and only then pass judgment.

"Did Pius XII remain silent in the face of the extermination of the Jews? Did he say all he should have said? We will have to open the archives to know exactly what happened. But to judge the actions, we will also need to understand the circumstances under which he was acting: Perhaps it was better for him to remain silent because had he spoken, more Jews would have been murdered? Or maybe the other way around? I don't want to sound petty, but it really gets my goat when I see that everyone is against the Church, against Pius XII – all those detractors.

"And what about the Allies during the war? After all, they were well aware of what was going on in the death camps and they were very familiar with the railroad tracks that led Jews to Auschwitz. They had aerial photographs. And they didn't bomb those tracks. I'll leave that question hanging in the air, and say only that one needs to be very fair in these things."
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