Simon Wiesenthal Center Urges Pope Benedict To Reject Demand By Latin Patriarch That Israel Abandon Its Jewish Character

December 19, 2007               

Vatican’s chief cleric in Jerusalem  says by calling itself  a Jewish State,
 Israel  discriminates against non-Jews

         The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on the Vatican to reject remarks made today by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Church’s chief representative in Israel, in which he called for Israel’s to discard its identity as a Jewish State saying that such a label is  discriminatory to its non-Jewish citizens. 

       Patriarch Michel Sabbah, said in a pre-Christmas press conference, “If there’s a state of one religion, other religions are naturally discriminated against….This land cannot be exclusive to anyone.” Patriarch Sabbah, who has been a frequent critic of Israel since he attained to this position in 1987, once said of the Israelis, “in the end we will send them away just as we did to the Crusaders.”

         “Patriarch Sabbah’s denial of the State of Israel as a Jewish State is nothing less than a campaign to de-legitimize her and is feeding fodder to the majority of the Arab and Muslim world that their long-held dream of a Middle East without a Jewish State is still possible,”said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center. Hier said that Sabbah’s  latest outburst contradicts both Pope John Paul II’s 1987 declaration that,  ‘The Jews have a right to nationhood as do all other peoples according to international law and the United Nations Declaration of 1947 that called for an Arab and Jewish State. “Israel does not need lessons from Patriarch Sabbah on how to treat citizens of other faiths and religions,” said Hier. “He would better serve the Christians in the Holy Land by going to Gaza and defending the beleaguered Christian minority there from Hamas extremists.”

        “We call on Pope Benedict to reject Sabbah’s demand and all those supporting this insidious campaign to de-Judaize the State of Israel,”
Rabbi Hier concluded.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.

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