Interfaith or Bad Faith? Dialogue with Jews

The resignation of the current and past presidents of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim Association (JCMA), both rabbis, and the suspension of participation by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, speaks volumes about the nature of Muslim–Jewish relations in Australia. The stated reason given was Muslim leaders’ “failure to recognise the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas”.

This essay appears in April’s Quadrant.
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Speaking at a pro-Palestinian rally in Broadmeadows, Victoria, the President of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Adel Salman, defended as “legitimate acts of resistance” the October 7 attacks in which 1200 Israeli men, women and children were tortured, slaughtered and raped and more than 253 civilians at a music festival were taken hostage. Clearly, nothing has changed in the six months since the Australian Muslim Times jubilantly reported news of the attack, which was followed soon after by footage of rallies in Lakemba where Muslim sheiks were in celebration mode. Sheik Dadoun (see the video below) punched the sky with his fists as he cheered, calling it “a day of courage, it’s a day of happiness, it’s a day of pride, it’s a day of victory. This is the day we’ve been waiting for.” The failure of the Muslim leadership to denounce and remove preachers who had a reputation for calling on Muslims to kill Jews, such as Wassam Hadad (also known as Abu Ousayd) of the Madina Dawah Centre in Blacktown, Western Sydney, has underlined how artificial the Jewish–Muslim interfaith relationship has been.

In striking contrast, leaders of the Christian community including Rev Sandy Grant from St Andrew’s Cathedral, Michelle Pearse, Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, and Anglican Senior Minister Mark Leach led a rally in Sydney’s Domain on Sunday, February 18, under the banner “Never Again Is Now” (NAIN), attracting an estimated 10,000 people over two and a half hours. They responded to the 738 per cent surge in anti-Semitic incidents since the Hamas attack on Israel, including the recent “doxing” of over 600 Jewish Australians—writers, professionals, business people and academics—by anti-Israel activists.

The speakers at NAIN started with the Christian former Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who addressed the crowd saying, “Instead of support, we have seen those living under the freedom of democracy in this country calling for the extinction of the State of Israel from the river to the sea.” He said, “people were ignorant of the real meaning of the words” and the “violent and anti-Semitic nature of those statements”. Former Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson also spoke at the event, along with senators Jacquie Lambie and Hollie Hughes, as well as indigenous affairs activist and devout Catholic Warren Mundine.

The enormous difference between the Muslim and Christian responses has deep roots in the origins of interfaith dialogue. Christians were at the forefront of engaging with the reality of anti-Semitism before the Holocaust when it was clear that the Jews of Europe were in profound danger. As early as 1938, the French philosopher and Protestant convert to Catholicism, Jacques Maritain, lectured on anti-Semitism, condemning in unambiguous terms this form of race hatred and describing in frightful detail the pogroms, expulsions and mass murders of Jews taking place in Russia, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Poland. In his book Antisemitism, published in 1939, Maritain did not shrink from acknowledging Christianity’s role in fostering Jew hatred, most especially in deploying conspiracies, such as the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a favourite of Hitler’s propaganda machine. Although it pained him to admit it, Maritain also acknowledged that “the Catholic Press has all too often been an accomplice”.

Far from being an “outlier” for speaking out against Jew hatred, Maritain expressed a view articulated by the then Pope, Pius XI, to the directors of the Belgian Catholic Radio Agency, namely that anti-Semitism is antithetical to the Christian faith. Indeed, Maritain’s outspoken repudiation of anti-Semitism foreshadowed a marked change in the theology of the Catholic Church, which resulted in Nostra Aetate (In Our Time), the Vatican’s 1965 declaration on relations with the Jews and other non-Christian faiths. It stated that anti-Semitism was a sin, and that the death of Christ could “not be charged against all the Jews without distinction then alive or against the Jews of today”. Nostra Aetate catalysed a change in clerical formation and a commitment to Jewish Christian dialogue that proclaimed the common patrimony of Jews and Christians.

The American Roman Catholic priest and author of The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-three Centuries of Antisemitism (1965), Father Edward Flannery, was the first director of Catholic Jewish Relations at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and became Associate Director of the Institute of Judeo-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University, New Jersey. His searing analysis identified the pagan, the Christian, the pseudo-scientific and the totalitarian communist manifestations of anti-Semitism, but it was the numerous ordinary Christians who were ignorant of what the Jews had endured over centuries whom he felt most compelled to educate.

Described by Rabbi James Rudin as “one of this century’s spiritual giants”, Flannery was awarded an honorary doctorate by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institution of Religion, Cincinnati, and was the recipient of many awards and honours from Christian and Jewish organisations. The honours flowed both ways in the realm of Jewish–Christian relations when some of the most outstanding rabbis involved in dialogue, such as Rabbi Leon Klinecki, Rabbi James Rudin, as well as Rabbi David Rosen in Jerusalem, were bestowed with papal knighthoods.

Fr Flannery’s most eminent successor in the field of Christian Jewish relations, Eugene J. Fisher, is deeply invested in combating anti-Semitism. Fisher, who was invited in 1990 by the Jewish communal organisation B’nai B’rith Australia to give the annual Human Rights Oration, an illustrious affair with senior clerics and Cardinal Clancy present, was interviewed in 2020 about anti-Semitism:

Central to anti-Semitism is a rejection of Christianity. The Bible of the Jews, the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament, was inspired by God and written by Jews, for Jews. The authors of the New Testament were also Jews, writing about the Jew, Jesus/Yeshua, primarily for their fellow Jews, but through Paul open to gentile converts (as Judaism was and is, of course). To hate Jews as a “race” is to hate Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and their faith, first-century Judaism. So a rejection of Christian as well as Jewish faith is a central factor in anti-Semitism, both in Europe and in the US.

In Britain, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was a champion of interfaith relations, on which he wrote for the Credo column in the Times and in his more than twenty-five books, especially The Dignity of Difference (2002). Rabbi Sacks became Knight Bachelor in the 2005 Birthday Honours, specifically for his services to the community and inter-faith relations. After his death in November 2020, at the end of the thirty-day mourning period, Prince Charles, now King and the titular head of the Church of England, spoke of Rabbi Lord Sacks as “a light unto this nation”:

Through his writings, sermons and broadcasts, Rabbi Sacks touched the lives of countless people with his unfailing wisdom, with his profound sanity and with a moral conviction which, in a confused and confusing world, was all too rare.

The extent of Rabbi Sacks’s public reach both in the UK and in the wider Anglican community was due in no small measure to the brilliant work of the Anglican priest and historian James Parkes (1896–1981). A driving force in the founding of the Council of Christians and Jews, Parkes was a young activist in the Student Christian Movement in Europe for twelve years, when he observed the brutality of Nazism against the Jews. He dedicated his scholarship and personal life to combating anti-Semitism. He railed against the Church’s missions to Jews seeking their conversion, which had increased in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and instead advanced the study of the unique history and biblical faith that bound Judaism and Christianity together and also forced them apart. His meticulous analysis of the conflicts between the two faiths, and in particular the blight of anti-Semitism, for which he blamed “the obduracy and wrong headedness of Christianity”, resulted in the Parkes Library at the University of Southampton, one of the largest documentation centres on Jewish–Christian relations. Among his many works, The Conflict of the Church and Synagogue: The Origins of Antisemitism (1934, reprinted in 1961) was his magnum opus, although he continued to write books and pamphlets, journal articles and voluminous letters on this theme well into the 1960s.

America also had its Protestant champions of Jewish–Christian relations in the pre-war era, but they increased significantly after the Holocaust. The Methodist minister and past president of the American Academy of Religion, Arthur Roy Eckardt (1918–1997) was the most dedicated scholar and promoter of Christian–Jewish relations in the post-Holocaust era. In Christianity and the Children of Israel (1948) and in his most influential work, co-written with his wife, Alice, Elder and Younger Brothers: The Encounter of Jews and Christians (1967), the origins and perpetuation of anti-Semitism are understood as a pagan’s war against “Jesus the Jew”. Like Parkes before him, the Eckardts’ insistence on the nascent theological and historic bond of Christians to Jews, which is often denied by anti-Semites, also extends to Israel:

In Jesus the Jew, the covenant is opened to the world, but not in any way that annuls the election of the original Israel. Because the Christian has been brought into the family of Jews, the fate of Israel, including the State of Israel, is also his fate.

In Encounter with Israel: A Challenge to Conscience (1970), the Eckardts document the Jews’ majority presence in Israel until the sixth century and their continued existence as a substantial minority until the nineteenth century when more than 100,000 Jews and later an additional 200,000 fleeing from Nazi Europe settled there. Rebutting the distortion of facts relating to Israel, the Eckardts regarded the demand by Muslims and the international Left for the “de-Zionisation” of Israel as nothing but a euphemism for the annihilation of the Jewish state, the denial of Israel’s right to exist and support for genocide.

The Eckardts travelled the world promoting Christian understanding of Jews, Judaism and Israel, and at home Alice founded the Jewish Studies program at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, originally affiliated with the Episcopal (Anglican) Church. Alice Eckardt, Professor of Religious Studies and special adviser to the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, was presented with the Human Relations Award by the American Jewish Committee.

These are but a few of the leaders in Jewish–Christian dialogue who contributed to and benefited from Jewish and Christian scholarship, which was often in collaboration, particularly in the more recent study of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The most influential was Geza Vermes, whose translation of the complete Scrolls into English, the first of its kind, was eclipsed by his ground-breaking books on Jesus the Jew (1973), Jesus and the World of Judaism (1983), The Religion of Jesus the Jew (1993), Jesus in his Jewish Context (2003) and many more on a similar theme. These have had an enormous impact on how Christians have re-connected to their Jewish roots.

Vermes, who escaped the Holocaust by becoming a Catholic priest in the French order Fathers of Our Lady of Sion, turned the order’s mission to convert Jews into its opposite, the repudiation of anti-Semitism and teaching Christians about Jews and Judaism. It is a calling that still characterises the Order in Australia, who were among the first participants in the Council of Christians and Jews, Victoria.

Jewish–Christian dialogue is deeply grounded in a mutual relationship, which recognises that Jews were unjustly cast as villains both theologically and historically, but, after the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel, foregrounded the importance and legitimacy of their respective faiths. It accepts that the concept of a “Judeo-Christian” foundation of Western civilisation is crucial to its survival and defence against an often atheist-driven “progressive Left” that is on a course to dismantle it under the guise of an anti-colonial, anti-racist, anti-capitalist agenda.

This confluence of anti-Western ideologies, and particularly the rejection of Judeo-Christian civilisation, has attracted large numbers of the Muslim community and leadership, which is happy to make common cause with groups that are implacably opposed to Israel and Christians supporting Israel. They openly label the only democratic country in the Middle East as colonialist, apartheid, fascist and a menace, as Muslim community leader and convert to Islam, Bilal Cleland, has done. Not once is the despicable attack by Hamas on October 7 denounced as the Iranian-backed terrorism it was, not once is blame sheeted home to Hamas for not returning the hostages, not once are the extensive militarised tunnels under Gaza condemned as the launching pad for terrorism against the State of Israel, not once is the culpability of Hamas acknowledged for the destruction of its own people by using them as shields and refusing them shelter in its mass of tunnels, not once is the hatred of Jews which is central to the Hamas charter and is taught in the UNRWA schools in Gaza criticised by Muslim leaders and writers in Australia.

Most of all, the Muslim leadership in Australia does not acknowledge one simple and incontrovertible fact, that Israel is central to Jews and Judaism, historically and today. Israel is not a dispensable ingredient in what it means to be Jewish, despite marginal Jews who can always be found penning diatribes against it, especially for Al Jazeera. There will always be Jew haters, even among Jews themselves, but removing Israel from interfaith dialogue, which I have witnessed all too often in the interest of “peaceful conversations”, is false comfort. Indeed, the former Grand Mufti of Australia, Sheik Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly, who publicly preached hatred of Jews and Israel and was a frequent promoter of the conspiracy beliefs contained in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, was recently eulogised as “a man who reflected and embodied the spirit of the community”. That would explain why there is currently no basis for Jewish–Muslim relations in Australia, for without acknowledging that Israel is legitimate, sovereign and Jewish, and that its right to exist will be defended against any threat to its existence and its people, then interfaith dialogue is nothing more than a pious lie.

From 1992 to 2018 Rachael Kohn produced and presented programs on religion and spirituality for ABC Radio National, including The Spirit of Things from 1997 to December 2018

42 thoughts on “Interfaith or Bad Faith? Dialogue with Jews

  • bobmbell39 says:

    The Spirit of Things was one of the many programs I listened to on the ABC. Not much to listen to now. Thank you Rachel for a very informative article.

  • Brian Boru says:

    Thank you Rachel for this informative but distressing article.
    I remember back in the early 70s when I learnt of a Greek bloke changing his surname. I knew him with a typical Greek name but he changed it back to what had been his family Jewish name. He had been forced to adopt a non family name because of the tragedy we now call the Holocaust. I felt proud that in Australia he was free to once again be Jewish.
    How far have we slipped as a nation when we now have people amongst us openly supporting October 7th terrorists?

  • Katzenjammer says:

    A small footnote, “Prelude to Dialogue; Jewish-Christian Relationships” by James Parkes is an interesting study of the similarities and differences.

  • David Isaac says:

    This is just tedious repetition of the same rhetoric and propaganda. They work though and so do subversion and treachery of the host nation. Resistance to Jewish power in European societies has gradually diminished over three hundred years but it was still quite publicly evident in America until 1942 when many of the most vocal critics were detained pending trial or otherwise silenced. Father Charles Coughlin was a famous example. He attracted huge radio audiences of up to 30 million with a very dim view of Jewish power and involvement in communist subversion. Elizabeth Dilling, an Episcopalian with a Catholic education who had visited the USSR, wrote scathing books about Roosevelt’s relationship to the communists. After her own initial skepticism she also exposed Jewish involvement in communism and capitalism and the Talmud’s attitude to Christians, which has been the actual cause of all those historical burnings of ‘holy’ books which we often hear about.
    Judeo-Christian makes a certain sense, given the incorporation of the Hebrew Old Testament in the Bible but true Christianity elevates the New Testament above all, and this text is viewed with revulsion by the Talmud. There is no religious common ground between Jews and Christians. Recently Candace Owens, a hugely popular young black American pundit, has parted ways with Jewish-owned relatively conservative internet channel ‘The Daily Wire’ apparently over her insistence on saying ‘Christ is King’ during her shows. The author of this piece approves of Christians purely in relation to their serving Jewish interests. Those meek Christians are contrasted with uncowed Muslims who read the dreaded ‘Protocols of Zion’, a text, based in part on French Jew and freemason Maurice Joli’s ‘Geneva Dialogues’, which I would invite everyone interested in politics to revile, after they’ve read it.

    • Paul from Sydney says:

      A really disappointing and concerning comment to see. Whatever is the truth about who was doing what behind closed doors (and most political things can’t be done behind closed doors), it would be no shock that many Jewish people, threatened with exclusion or worse by the societies they lived in, gravitated to political beliefs that would theoretically at least see them accepted as equal citizens (like many others sometimes ignoring their down or ugly sides). But to call this a conspiracy just invokes the very anti-semitism they often justly fear. And of course there was great diversity in perspectives in the Jewish community as well.

      • David Isaac says:

        ‘Disappointing and concerning comment to see’. So you’re not arguing with the substance only its emotional effects?
        I actually agree with most of your statements but I don’t believe they refute mine. I do think much of the most important politics does happen in the shadows though. Communism and its Frankfurt School offshoots ARE a worldwide conspiracy in which Jews have been dramatically overrepresented.
        Anti-Semitism today is largley a label applied to people who try to counter the effects of Semitism ( semi-coordinated and organized pro-Jewish activism and activity) which are likely to be detrimental to their nation. The venting over Gaza has been more extreme than this but then the provocation has been greater. Suggestions to kill a group of people, even when obviously rhetorical, really don’t belong on our streets but are they worse than ACTUALLY killing tens of thousands of people on the streets of Gaza?

  • Bron says:

    David Isaac
    You feel no sense of shame do you? What did Jews do to you? Did one of them screw your boyfreind?

    • David Isaac says:

      Yawn. What would our forefathers say of this level of discourse?

      • Sindri says:

        What would “our forefathers” say about your attempts to rehabilitate the Nazis and your bizarre and poisonous theories about Jews?
        I know what mine, one of them a courageous patriot who suffered horrifyingly at the hands of the strutting, preposterous cowards you admire so much, would say.

        • David Isaac says:

          I am interested to hear about your relative’s experience and I hope he wasn’t tortured. My understanding has been that the treatment of prisoners of war on both sides of the Western front was largely in accordance with the then accepted rules of war. I don’t believe I am just getting this from ‘Hogan’s Heroes’. Of course at the end of the war German so-called Disarmed Enemy Forces were penned up, exposed to the elements and starved with up to a million dying as a result. Canadian James Baques documents this in his 1989 book ‘Other Losses’.

  • Bron says:

    Boyfriend not that German word.

  • wdr says:

    David Isaac (If that is your real name – if it isn’t, it would be interesting to know why you aren’t using it.) – The Nazis surrendered in 1945, and most of the worst ones were hanged or committed suicide. I am afraid that you are too late in writing your venom. It is a mystery why the strongly philo-semitic Quadrant magazine permits you online space, and I hope your odious blog will be deleted and that you will be banned from this site. Dr. Kohn is to be congratulated in writing her eminently sensible article. The “interfaith” activities of Jewish bodies like the Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) simply fall on deaf ears so far as “dialogue” with most Muslim groups are concerned.

    • Sindri says:

      Of course it’s not his real name. His style is very similar to that of that mendacious old Jew-baiter Dr Töben (“I’m just a humble seeker after the truth, engaged on a great intellectual exercise”) so I’ve always thought he’s one of the obsessed folk who hung around the now defunct “Adelaide institute” (and he’s never denied it when I’ve suggested it). Presumably he gives himself a Jewish screen name in the hope that people will think “gosh, a Jew saying this – there must be something in it”. The pity is he’s polluting Quadrant.

    • David Isaac says:

      In answer to your first question it could be for somewhat similar reasons as to why Rachael Kohn’s 600 Jews may not have wished to have their names publicised in association with their activism, in their case in order to conceal the extent of Jewish influence and to avoid adverse consequences like potential harassment, or in my case to avoid potential economic and social repercussions.
      Your repudiation of free speech and your lack of preparedness to engage with my arguments, instead demanding proscription, suits the empty gloating about the killing of your enemies and enjoying effectively complete control of the organs of propaganda from 1945 onwards. There is little in the Old Testament which would dissuade you from such a response but to a true Christian it seems unhinged.

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Good on you Rachael ; a good piece well put and I agree with the positions and points in it & the historical data.

  • Lawrie Ayres says:

    What I find obnoxious are the self proclaimed Catholics in Federal and State parliaments who willingly trade their Christianity for Muslim votes. There are some to this day that have not condemned Hamas for their murderous ways nor called for them to release the remaining hostages and, more to the point, have not associated their actions with the religion that calls for just such barbarity. Are votes so important that morality and honour can be discarded?

  • Phillip says:

    Excellent article. Thank you Rachael.
    Mel Gibson made a good effort in his film ‘Passion of Christ’ to portray the truth and show the fanaticism of the Pharisees was the driver to crucifixion and not the Jewish people as a whole.

  • Occidental says:

    I must admit I was quite surprised to read the authors laudatory description of the Christian church’s defence of Jews prior to WWII. The truth is though that a single French philosopher does not make up for the tens of millions of German, Austrian, French, and Italian christians who stood by and said nothing, and in many circumstances provided day to day support to the most murderous regime the world has ever known. So much has in fact been acknowledged by the Catholic Church. The fact is that when we really needed the Christian churches to rail against the Nazis in the countries that mattered, they were relatively silent.
    The author juxtaposes the Islamic clergy’s support of the October 7 attacks with that of the Christian “community”. No Bishops turned up for that rally, rather an Anglican minister and few peripheral figures, the high water mark being Hillsong Morrison, and Jacquie Lambie. Seriously most of the posters at Quadrant would give more spirited support of Israel.
    The real purpose of the article is really polemic, and that is that there can be no dialogue between Muslim faith leaders and Jewish leaders until the former effectively accept and endorse Israel as a Jewish state in its current form. That will never happen. The Jewish state is founded on theft and dispossession, and whilst the author is right that it has become central to the lives of many Jews the world over, that does not give it legitimacy. The only thing that legitimizes Israel is power. Power is a nebulous thing, in 1940 the Nazis held the lives of millions in the palm of their hand, fives years later they were swinging from a rope.

    • Paul W says:

      A Jewish state is a state where the majority of people are Jewish. It isn’t founded on theft and dispossession and there is no connection between those things. This is an anti-Jew blood libel that is used to justify violence and prejudice. No other state was ever there and no other nation had a homeland there. The state was established to govern the Jewish community.
      You claim Israel survives on power. But pre-Independence Israel was not exactly a place of power, yet Jewish people went there and developed it. That and that alone is what Israel is built on. Surely what is based on power is the occupation of Israel by the numerous empires that conquered it?

    • William says:

      To cast the Nazi rule over Germany as one where the people could have spoken freely and chose not to is to completely distort the reality of a dictatorship. From the moment of first attaining power, the Nazis conducted a murderous campaign against the Catholic Church in Germany- the editors of the Catholic press were imprisoned and murdered, the ashes of one sent to his wife in an envelope. Thousands of Catholic priests were murdered and imprisoned- the concentration camp of Dachau was called the ‘priests barracks’ because nearly two thousand priests were interned and died there. Three thousand priests died in concentration camps under the Nazis. The German Catholic bishops excommunicated any Catholic who joined the Nazi party (until it was elected, at which time as a duly elected party, canon law required the excommunication be withdrawn). The Catholic areas of Germany overwhelmingly voted against the Nazi party with 84% voting against Hitler. This was the result of two popes, Pius XI and Pius XII, both of whom were vocal in their opposition to the Nazi ideology. Pius XII, when a Cardinal (& well before World War II, and at a time when Hitler was praised by western leaders), called the Nazis ‘miserable plagerisers who dress up their heresies in tinsel’. He described their ‘heresies of a race and blood cult’ and reminded the world that we are a family, all of whom are descended from our common father, Adam. The very first encyclical of Pius XII as a newly elected pope, in September 1939, 88,000 copies were air-dropped over Germany as propaganda. These two popes were vocal in their opposition to the Nazi ideology from well before the Nazis took power. The lie of their silence is a malicious untruth – the record of their public speeches is readily available in third party documents such as the Palestine post, the London Times and the New York Times. The casting of the fault of Nazism and the laying at the feet of Christianity and, in particular, the Catholic Church is an outrageous claim, especially when the numbers of Catholics killed by the Nazis completely overwhelm any other group.

  • Stephen says:

    A new Jewish prayer =
    Please G=d if it is true that we Jews are the chosen people please choose somebody else.

  • Paul from Sydney says:

    It’s very common to draw the conclusion as Kohn implicitly does that – on the Protestant side at least which I am familiar with – it is a more liberal Christianity that is responsible for the changing view of the church toward Jews. But the people who spoke at the rally – Morrison et al – Protestant or Catholic are not liberals. They likely hold to orthodox belief that Christianity is the one true way and would welcome a Jew converting to Christianity even if they would never demand or impose it. Many probably never participated in interfaith dialogue. American Evangelical Protestantism and Pentecostalism in particular, unaffected by liberal luminaries and having no interest in interfaith dialogue, drove the pro-Israel, philosemitism we see from the more powerful orthodox Christian church. By the time I mixed in these circles in the late 80s Jews and Israel were very much viewed positively due to their own reading of scripture especially the importance of blessing Israel. However if you reached out to one of these churches to run a course on ‘antisemitism’ as some have tried to do they would just give you a blank stare. I am a little surprised Rachael is really so unaware of this but from the outside it is hard to see sometimes.

    • Oyvey says:

      I certainly did not imply that it was liberal Christians who support Jews and Israel, nor do I believe that Christians who have demonstrated their support as they did in Sydney at the NAIN rally are simply waiting for Jews to convert to Christianity. Interfaith dialogue has had its ups and downs in the Christian-Jewish experience, but the strides made should not be ignored or forgotten, and some have left deep impressions, which biblical scholarship has contributed to, as my article points out. Many conservative Christians like the Centre for Public Christianity have been greatly influenced by scholars such as Geza Vermes, whom I mentioned, and there are many others. In the end, antisemitism is defeated by actions more than by words.

      • Paul from Sydney says:

        Fair points thanks. I read too much into the article. Nonetheless I think there is another story that is more grassroots and possibly harder to track.

  • Bron says:

    David Isaac
    I agree the comment in question was naff. I also apologise to gays for the link to DI.

  • Stephen Due says:

    Re: “The enormous difference between the Muslim and Christian responses [to the current predicament of Israel] has deep roots in the origins of interfaith dialogue”.
    I suspect that Christian support for Israel stems partly from a belief, in some Protestant circles, that the Jews are still God’s chosen people. This belief is founded on the witness of the Old Testament to God’s faithfulness, and the witness of the New Testament epistles to the view (on one interpretation) that “all Israel will be saved”. Of course, Christians believe Jesus to be the Messiah of the Jews. At least from the Christian side, this is a stimulus for interfaith dialogue.
    In my view, the importance of “interfaith dialogue” can be overestimated. As far as Israel is concerned, I imagine that many of the Jewish inhabitants and their supporters could not be described as people of ‘faith’. Certainly, my Jewish friends are all atheists. And what we need in Australia, rather than more ‘interfaith’ dialogue, is more conversation between Christianity, which was the religion established in the colonies from the beginning, and its secular opponents.

    • whitelaughter says:

      William, rather than ‘discussion’ between Christian groups, we need to exploit our specialization. The schools and hospitals that the Catholics have across this nation are something they can be truly proud of (The Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian churches had similar systems, but sadly gave them to the states in the hopes of standardizing instruction – a disastrous mistake). Presbyterians created The Flying Doctor Service, the Salvos remain our finest charitable workers, and so on. Helping each other do what we do well is the obvious way forward.

  • Occidental says:

    William, neither you nor I were present, therefore we are wholly reliant on secondary sources. But I notice with interest The Times reported in 2022 that a report prepared by the Catholic Church in Germany admitted that the Church provided support for the Nazi regime, and for its prosecution of its war.
    Apparently it admitted that in 1939 on the occasion of Hitlers 50th birthday Catholic Churches flew the Nazi flag, and delivered prayers for the “fosterer and protector of the Reich”. It admitted that many hospitals for the rehabilitation of German soldiers wounded at the front were staffed almost exclusively by Catholic nuns. Further hundreds of Catholic priests were in the front lines providing emotional and spiritual support to German units.
    In 1943 when initially Pius XII sent his ambassador to the Nazi leadership in Rome to complain over the arrest and detention of Jews who he stated had been baptised, he was told that the orders for the arrest were from the very top of the German government, and did the church really want to make a formal protest. Apparently the ambassadors response was “no”.
    Remember also that when the Nazi’s attained power in 1933 the first foreign policy treaty or agreement executed was the Concordant of July 20, 1933 with the Roman Catholic Church. This hardly indicates a church at odds with the Nazi’s.
    If you have a source which supports your contention that the catholic church in Germany opposed the Nazi’s throughout its existence or for that matter even before the Nazi’s attained power please give details of that source.

    • William says:

      Occidental- I have no doubt that the Times reported as you said. Also, I do not doubt that the German bishops admitted that the Church ‘provided some support’ for the Nazi regime., although what that means is oleaginous (and usefully endlessly applicable). And there were individual priests or bishops who did accept the Nazi doctrine as being a good one. The US example of Coughlin is one. They however, were very much in the minority – the majority were openly against Hitler and his program – after all, the central tenets of National Socislism were violently anti-Catholic, very atheist and based on Darwinist eugenics – all matters that are completely incompatible with Catholicism. Bishops such as von Galen and many others simply spoke up. As mentioned above, this was directly reflected in the Catholic vote vs the Protestant vote, 84% of Catholics voting against Hitler.
      The casting of blame on the Catholic Church was something that arose during the 1960’s. Prior to that, pope Pius xii and the Catholic Church were seen as the major opponents of Nazism. Jewish leaders such as Golda Meir praised pope Pius xii as the person who had mobilised the Church and religious to act to save the Jewish people. The Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, converted to Catholicism and took the name ‘Eugenio’ after pope Pius xii. He wrote about it in his autobiography’Before the dawn’. Jewish authors Pinchas Lapide detail the actions of the Catholic priests, bishops, monks and nuns in saving Jews from the Nazi spoliation. I do not doubt that Catholic nuns assisted German troops in their hospitals- that is what Catholics do. If you do not understand that, then you do not get Catholicism.
      I also accept that swastikas might have been flown in 1939 – at the outset of Nazism and at a time when opposition was severely punished but Hitler was praised by all – including Chamberlain and King Edward VIII- the English aristocracy and much of the US. Edward VIII was there flying swastikas.
      For the Catholic attitude, I might start with pope Pius xii, out of 44 speeches he made, prior to becoming pope in 1939, 40 of them denounced Nazism. My authority for that is Pinchas Lapide ‘Three Popes and the Jews.’ The encyclical‘MIT Brennender Sorge’ was a profound refutation of Nazism -authored by Pacelli, the future pope Pius xii.
      In April 1935 in an open letter to the German bishops, he called the Nazis, ‘false prophets with the pride of Lucifer’
      On 28 April 1935 at Lourdes before 250,000-300,000 pilgrims, the future pope Pius xii condemned the Nazis as ‘miserable plagiarisers who dress up ancient errors in new tinsel. It matters little whether they gather round the flag of social revolution, whether they are guided by a false concept of race and of life, or whether they are possessed by the superstition of a race and blood cult.’
      In 1937 he spoke at Notre Dame Cathedral before many thousands describing the Nazis as ‘the wicked leaders of that noble and powerful nation who wish to lead it astray into an ideology of race.’
      You might bear in mind that this was at a time when no western leader criticised Nazism or Hitler.
      He is credited by Jewish writers such as Lapide with saving an estimated 760,000-800,000 Jewish lives. He opened the Vatican to refugees which included communists (that is the Catholic head-space again which you may not understand- he was as anti-communist as he was anti-Nazi). His own private chambers were used as a birthing room for refugees . He spent his family fortune in enabling the escape of refugees.
      Yes, he did initiate and mediate the Concordat – which is a treaty. That does not indicate friendship- one enters treaties with potential foes, not friends. The Havaara treaty was executed on behalf of the Jews with the Nazis – nobody casts that treaty as indicating Jewish support of the Nazi program. The Concordat was executed in extremis at a time when there was an actual and threatened persecution of Catholics within countries under Nazi control. The Nazis did honour legal proscriptions and, in fact, it was the terms of the Concordat and the networks of the church that allowed for the massive rescue operation that saved so many Jews and others. One provision was for the protection of ‘non-Aryan Catholics’ and this allowed for the (forged) baptismal certificates to save many thousands of Jews. The main aim of the concordat though, was to protect Catholics because he was the head of the Catholic Church.
      The accusations of Catholic complicity with the Nazis were initially made by Stalin who called Pius xii ‘Hitler’s Pope’. This cut no ice with the generation who had lived through the war and who witnessed pope Pius’ stance against the Nazis. It was revived in 1963 with the presentation of ‘the Deputy’ which was a communist production, produced under the auspices of Kruschev as a weapon against the Catholic stand against communist expansion, Kruschev seeing the Catholic Church as an obstacle to communism. This led to a KGB operation called ‘Seat 12’ with the aim of defaming Pius xii and neutralising Catholic moral authority. This was revealed when the disinformation expert charged with the operation, Ion Pacepa, defected and wrote about it in his book, ‘Disinformation’.
      The original documents such as German newspapers which all printed anti-Pius things such as ‘the election of Cardinal Pacelli is not favourably accepted in Germany since he has always been hostile to national socialism’ Berliner Morgenpost,, 3 March 1939. -are available on the internet.
      The first encyclical of Pius xii was Summi Pontificus, where he described Catholic teaching of ‘the new man who is renewed unto knowledge according to the image of Him who created him- where there is neither gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision’. 88,000 copies of this encyclical were sir-dropped over Germany by the RAF as propaganda.
      His Christmas messages 1942, 1943 were clear: ‘He who makes a distinction between Jews and other men is unfaithful to God and is in conflict with God’s commands.’
      General Karl Wolff Ss Commander and deputy to Himmler deposed in an affidavit in 1972 that they had been ordered by Hitler to kidnap Pius XII.
      There are editorials of the New York Times 28 October 1939, Christmas message of 1939 to the Cardinals. One group who posts these documents is called ‘Pave the Way’ – it was started by a Jewish man who realised that his view of Pius was incorrect. He simply posts the original documents.
      Apologies for the long reply but there is much more that I cannot address because the subject is not simple, not binary but is complex, because we are dealing with a very powerful and cruel dictatorship in which there were repercussions to every action undertaken-even though the whole issue is presented as though it is simple and that every person commenting would have been in the resistance. 3,000 members of the Polish clergy were killed, 1,992 of the dying in concentration camps. Of the 2,720 clergy sent to Dachau, 2,579 were Catholic priests, plus lay brothers. 1,034 priests died in Dachau alone. 300 priests died at Sachenshausen, 780 at Mauthausen and 500 at Buchenwald.

      • Brian Boru says:

        William, a masterful reply. Almost an article here by itself. I respectfully suggest that you consider publishing it together with whatever else you may have gathered. I was particularly taken that you were able to reference the source of the smear.

      • Occidental says:

        Sorry William, I have again replied in the general thread below.

      • David Isaac says:

        After the successful Bolshevik and Spartacist revolutions in Russia and Germany, in which Jews played a leading role, as well as the red terror of Bela Kun (originally Kohn) in Hungary, the Wall Street-led depression and its attendant social degradation especially in Berlin, and of course the deliberate starvation of many millions of Christian peasants in the Russian Empire, carried through in the Ukraine by Lazar Kaganovich, it’s hardly surprising that European aristocrats were wary of Jewish influence and interested in the new German social system.
        Jewish leaders internationally, particularly in the then Anglo-Saxon states were, understandably, immediately hostile to the new regime. However the Zionist project benefited from German restrictions on Jews. Those who weren’t able to get to other European countries or the USA were often able to take some of their capital to Palestine, with 60 000 emigrating by 1939 under the Haavara agreement of August 1933.

  • Peter C Arnold says:

    Dear Editors, why on earth do your publish (often hurtful)) anonymous comments? It encourages the antisocial ratbags.
    Where is your responsibility to social harmony in Oz?
    Dr Peter Arnold OAM, Sydney.

    • David Isaac says:

      I agree @Bron is skating on thin ice, although now that he is crawling to the homosexual lobby all will no doubt be forgiven.
      Most comments here are anonymous but then not everyone has a medal with which to distinguish his moniker. More than a few comments are offensive and hurtful to somebody. Political aborigines, lefties and Muslims are favourite targets. Germans who don’t believe their ancestors to be irredeemably evil also are considered fair game. If you are referring to me I would point out that I have endeavoured to stick to the facts as I understand them without setting out to ‘hurt’ anyone and I have received the expected abuse for doing even that.
      Quadrant is to be commended for preventing its comments section being an echo chamber even if it’s editorial line is comically pro-Zionist. Presumably the board has its reasons. As I said recently to @Sindri, “Sticks and stones and all that”. I’d rather avoid the sticks and stones but offend and insult me all you like.

      • Sindri says:

        “Germans who don’t believe their ancestors to be irredeemably evil also are considered fair game”
        Don’t resort to strawman arguments. Your ancestors (assuming you to be of German descent) are not “irredeemably evil”, and no-one is saying so. On the contrary: German culture is breathtakingly fine. It’s the clownish, vulgar, murderous leaders of the Nazi party who were irredeemably evil, and they were not representative of German culture as far as I can see.

        • Occidental says:

          Well long before BDS came into existence, I came to the view that I could not support the German state. I was of the view that its crimes between 1939 and 1945 were so great that I could not buy anything German no matter how good the product, and even if there was no replacement. It wasn’t a very rational sort of boycott, but it was only response I could and can think of.
          I can talk to Germans individually and have German acquaintances, but whenever they start talking about Germany I try to make my escape rather than it descend into acrimony. As an aside my Grandfather who spent two years on the western front, in WWI, used to describe Germans as the “cruel hun”, and he died before the world was aware of the holocaust.

    • William says:

      Surely you are not so feeble that you cannot cope with comments you characterise as ‘hurtful’? What is wrong with robust discussion? I am grateful to Quadrant for allowing different views to be aired. Anybody who disagrees with the comments could always negate their effectiveness by countering with arguments based on fact, instead of resorting to personal attack and name-calling – and then, as usual, demanding censorship.

  • Occidental says:

    William thank you for the effort apparent in your reply. Much of it is interesting, and edifying. The only comments I would make is that if you look at my original post I expressed surprise at the tone of the article implying that “Christians” (not just catholics ) were a bulwark for the Jews against the Nazi regime. Quite obviously some Clergy, criticised the Nazis. Some like Dietrich Bonhoeffer paid for resisting the Nazis with their lives.
    Clearly there were Christians who opposed the Nazis and some did so primarily to protect fellow countrymen who were Jews. My point is though, that they were the exceptions. Many Christians, including priests and Bishops (including Catholic bishops) were happy to curry favour with Nazis, and all too willing to assist the regime in its murderous designs. The article sought to imply some sort of historical fraternity between Christians and Jews. The actions of many Christians in Europe between 1927 and 1945 does not support that implication. Hence my comment that the views of one philosopher does not outweigh the actions of millions.

  • Bron says:

    Peter C Arnold
    Anomymous antisocial ratbag here.
    DI stated in Quadrant that the reporting of the barbarous events in Israel on October 7th was exaggerated and that many of the atrocities did not occur.
    I find his comments offensive and attacked him in a clumsy inappropĺriate manner.
    I apologise if this upset you.
    Dr Bron, Whadjuk

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