The anti-Semitic imperative
The study is timely, coming, as it does, while anti-Semitic sentiment is growing throughout Europe, and hostility towards Israel is increasingly considered the enlightened norm. In France, attacks on Jews on so frequent, and the media blackout so pervasive, that society seems then to have sacrificed the Jews in order not to alienate Arabs and Mohammedans. As Professor Shmuel Trigano of the Paris-Nanterre University observes:
(T)here is a symbolic exchange or displacement occurring between the Jewish (dead) victim and the so-called victim of the Jews: the Palestinians, so that European compassion for the victim has been transferred to the "people in danger" as the Palestinians have been called. No longer victims, the Jews became the persecutors of the Palestinians (the so-called "original sin" of the state of Israel), and this permits the Europeans who identify with the victim not to face their own culpability towards the Jews.
It is perhaps no wonder that more than 7000 French Jews have signed a petition asking for political asylum in the United States because of anti-Semitic expression in France.
Yet while the Roman Catholic Church is issuing reports on this, and declaring that ‘everything must be done to dispel every shadow’, it might consider beginning with Pax Christi International (PCI) - a Roman Catholic organisation with headquarters in Brussels. Despite its claims to ‘promote reconciliation’ and the ‘defence of universal human rights’, PCI adopts the Palestinian narrative and reflects the one-sided sentiments expressed by its President, who gives unqualified support for the Palestinian ‘right of return’, and condemns Israel’s security barrier. For him, Palestinian terrorism is legitimate ‘resistance’, and the sole responsibility for making peace lies in Israel’s hands.
Pax Christi International has been criticised by the Council of Europe for ‘taking up the themes of Arab propaganda and placing those who terrorised on an equal footing with their victims’. In the UK, the organisation’s website has an Israel/Palestine section (the only country to be so treated) which demonises Israel and advocates international isolation. It omits completely the context of terrorism, and ignores Palestinian violence and corruption as sources of suffering. PCI professes to be a Christian organisation ‘inspired by the word of God and the Eucharist’, yet it is hard to imagine a more invidious anti-Semitic narrative than that conveyed by its websites and its President.
Cranmer hopes that the quest of His Holiness to ‘dispel every shadow’ of anti-Semitism might begin with the reform of Pax Christ International. Judgement must begin at home.