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ALEXANDER KIMEL - HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR
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The Verdict
   

VATICAN, JEWS & CHRISTIANITY

by Alexander Kimel

The recently released Vatican document on the Holocaust, elicited a flood of negative reactions. Although this document is full of half-truths and whitewashing, I am more optimistic. I view this document as a basis for a continuing dialogue that will lead to full reconciliation.

HISTORIC DOCUMENT
It is a Historic Document that indicates the tremendous change in the attitude of the Vatican and the Christian Churches toward the Jews, in the Post Holocaust era. It indicates a genuine desire on the part of the Catholic church to acknowledge the injustices done to the Jewish people and is the best document that the Vatican could produce at this junctions of history.

The major shortcoming of this document is the whitewashing of Pope Pious XII and the avoiding responsibility for the active participation of Christians in the killings of the Jews. Nevertheless, a full admission of guilt would not make a big difference, because it would not remove eternal flow of anti-Semitism embedded in the New Testament and in teachings of the Fathers of the Church.

HOLOCAUST GUILT.
I believe that the Holocaust tragedy indicates a general breakdown of the Western civilization, and all its political and religious institutions and leadership. In this context, assigning individual or institutional guilt is not as important as prevention of another Holocaust and reducing the violence that corrodes our society. I believe that Holocaust Prevention is the Central issue of the Post Holocaust era. Guilt assignment is not.

ANTI-SEMITISM
Without doubt, anti-Semitism was the major factor that made the Holocaust possible. Without the latent and and overt anti-Semitism Hitler, the lowly corporal, could not risen to power. It was anti-Semitism that cleared the conscience of of the killers and onlookers alike and let them participate in the crimes. Can anti-Semitism be eliminated ?

The problem is that each generation of Christian children is saturated with images of Christ the Redeemer crucified by the wicked Jews, or Judas the Traitor with his gold stained gold, etc. Those are powerful images that are imprinted in the tender psyche of a child and they last forever. All the synoptic Bibles of the New Testament are the primary sources of anti-Semitism. Period. Can this be changed? I am afraid, not .
Christianity is a conservative, mystic religion, based on reverence of the past, and cannot and will not revise its basic dogma. It s a problem that we have to live with and learn how to work around it.

CULTURAL REVOLUTION
We cannot change the teaching of Church but during a dialogue, we could press for a change in the interpretation of the most damaging dogmas, such as the responsibility of the Jews for the Crucifixion. The Church can provide a more logical explanation: The Crucifixion was the will of God, and without the Crucifixion there would be no salvation. So how can the Jews be blamed for an event ordained by God?

We cannot change the Teaching of the Church, but we could try to stop the flow of anti-Semitism by developing closer cultural ties. In the Middle Ages, monks believed that Jesus preached in Latin. Today, many Christians are not aware that Jesus was Jewish. Acknowledging the Jewish source of Christianity, the contributions of the Jewish carpenter, tentmaker, fishermen, can bring a change in attitudes. There many historical facts, not popularized, such as the Ebonites, the Nazarenes, common Jewish-Christian synagogues of the first centuries, Christ's love for his people expressed in the New Testament.

CONCLUSIONS
Two thousand years of prejudices cannot be stopped with a single document. It requires constant labor of love by people of good will, on both sides of the isle. I believe that the time for change has come.
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kimel@systec.com