One offered a “blood libel” against an entire race that has fueled a century of violent attacks, while the other was meant to help heal the wounds of anti-Semitism when it was published nearly 50 years ago.
And now a Christian Zionist leader is saying it’s time for the church to choose which document will form the basis of Jewish-Christian relations going forward. Will it be the “Nostra Aetate” declaration signed by Pope Paul VI in 1965, or will it be the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” a proven hoax that was put out by anonymous Jew haters in 1903?
Laurie Cardoza-Moore, founder and president of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations, will travel to the Vatican on Feb. 10 to try to convince the Catholic Church to dust off the long-forgotten Nostra Aetate document and proclaim its truths with renewed vigor.
The timing couldn’t be better, she says.
That’s because the 50th anniversary of the signing of Nostra Aetate, Latin for “In Our Time,” is approaching on Oct. 28 of this year. At the same time, the world is watching the renewed rise of radical Islam, which is manifesting in a wave of anti-Semitic attacks and Christian persecution the likes of which has not been seen since the Nazi era.
“Today, the remarkable story of the declaration of Nostra Aetate is known by far too few Christians and Jews,” Cardoza-Moore says. “In one history-making document, the Catholic Church not only acknowledged that the Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus and eliminated the espousing of the ‘deicide’ narrative, it also recognized that the Jewish covenant with God for the land of Israel had not been broken, and it stated that Christianity sprang from Jewish roots.”
Cardoza-Moore first met with Vatican leaders last April and has been invited back for a second meeting on Feb. 10 with Cardinal Kurt Koch of Switzerland.
She is joined in the effort by Archbishop John Lupoli with the World Council of Independent Christian Churches, who is sending a letter to Pope Francis. Lupoli oversees 44 million congregants in 83 countries.
In light of the Charlie Hebdo attacks last month, it became apparent that anti-Semitism has infiltrated the major Western media, and it is all the more pressing for the Catholic Church, which represents 1.2 billion Christians, to again take the lead on this issue like it did in 1965, Cardoza-Moore said.
During the Paris attacks, the fact that Islamic radicals chose a Kosher grocery store for the taking of hostages and killing of four Jewish shoppers received scant media coverage. Most of the focus remained on the 10 people slain at the satirical magazine and the two police officers.
“We’re imploring the pope to please make a public statement to deplore the global rise of anti-Semitism,” Cardoza-Moore said.
Such attacks are often inspired by anti-Jewish propaganda.
And the “Protocols” is one of the most widely disseminated propaganda pieces.
Authored in 1903, it claimed that Jews harbored an ancient secret plan to take over the world and were the source of all the world’s problems. Henry Ford funded the printing of 500,000 copies in the United States during the 1920s and Hitler had the book taught as fact in German schools during the 1930s. Today, the book is used in the schools of many Muslim countries and is widely available on the Internet.
Seeking a national day of commemoration
By contrast, Cardoza-Moore says the message of Nostra Aetate is one of peace and healing between Christianity and Judaism. She will request that Pope Francis declare Oct. 28 a national day of commemoration to bring awareness to Nostra Aetate.
“Every year on Oct. 28, the church could preach a message on the evils of anti-Semitism and debunk the myths associated with Jew hatred,” Cardoza-Moore said. “Documents such as the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ have been circulated for years among schools in Arab countries, propagating lies about Jewish people.”
Cardoza-Moore said she grew up Catholic and does not recall any mention of the Nostra Aetate document by priests or educators. The document was meant to instruct the church in its dealings with non-Christian faiths and included a whole section about Judaism.
“The document was signed but there’s been little to no education in the church since 1965,” she said. “I was raised Catholic. I had never heard of Nostra Aetate.
“It’s not being taught. In fact, I remember the opposite being taught, that the Jews were the ‘Jesus killers.’ That the Jews killed Christ.”
Rabbi Gerald Meister helped draft the document along with Catholic clergy starting in 1963. He died in March 2013, and Cardoza-Moore doesn’t want his legacy of Christian-Jewish interfaith dialogue to die with him.
“One of the reasons we’re pursuing this is because of the rise in anti-Semitism but also because the Catholic Church took the lead on fighting it in the early 1960s. The Catholic Church was way ahead of the Christian Zionist movement,” Cardoza-Moore said. “So we want to tell people to commemorate that day in perpetuity, so that every year on that given Sunday that would be taught from the pulpit and in the catechism, on or around Oct. 28, so that the homily of every service once a year would address what was declared.”
The hope is that other Christian denominations will follow suit if Pope Francis were to make a statement resurrecting Nostra Aetate.
“That’s one of the things we’re hoping to do is raise awareness in the Protestant churches, as well as the Orthodox Christian world, to encourage others to do likewise and support the Catholic Church’s position,” Cardoza-Moore said.
Strange messages in Common Core
The depth to which anti-Semitism has crept into mainstream America’s religious and educational institutions is alarming to Christian supporters of Israel.
A Common Core lesson plan required eighth-grade students in a California school district last year to question whether the Holocaust actually happened.
The eight-page assignment asked students to weigh arguments on whether the Holocaust was an “actual event” or a “propaganda tool that was used for monetary gain.” It was justified as an exercise in “critical thinking.”
The school district at first defended the exercise before finally pulling it.
This is disturbingly similar to some of the arguments made by the “Protocols” and other conspiracy theories.
“If you look, historically, the Protocols actually came out of Russia. And in the 1960s the Protocols were taken and translated into Farsi and into Arabic and 200 million copies were distributed throughout the Muslim world,” Cardoza-Moore said. “They distributed those copies into the Arab-speaking world and into Iran, and that is what is fueling the hatred and anti-Semitism in the world today.”
When anti-Semitism is allowed to flourish, history teaches that Christians also pay a price.
As Holocaust survivor Anita Dittman pointed out in an interview with WND last week, the Jews in the ovens of Auschwitz were joined by many Catholic priests and Protestant pastors. Other Christian leaders, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, were hanged by the Nazis.
“We’re seeing in the modern world that it’s not just Jews who are being slaughtered but Christians as well,” Cardoza-Moore said. “Paul said we are ‘heirs to the promise,’ we are the seed that was grafted into Abraham’s family, so it should not be a surprise that Christians would be targeted wherever anti-Semitism is unleashed. Because we are the people of the Book, both Jews and Christians are facing an existential threat because of radical Islam. It’s why we see it’s not just Jews and Israel being targeted for annihilation but also Christians in the broader Middle East.”
‘Israel’s battle is our battle’
The Orthodox Christian community understands this, at least at the local level in the Middle East, Cardoza-Moore said.
“We have a Greek Orthodox priest in Nazareth who has been calling on the Christians in Nazareth and in Israel to enroll in the IDF to help defend Israel, because he says there is only one place in the Middle East where Christians are safe and that is Israel,” she said. “Pastor (Gabriel) Naddaf, an Orthodox priest, has been speaking out.”
Thousands of Orthodox Christians in Iraq have been beheaded, shot or forced to leave their homes by the Islamic State or ISIS, while Coptic Christians in Egypt have seen their churches burned to the ground by followers of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The problem is, the Orthodox Christian leaders have been making an impassioned plea to the Western church to stand up and help them, but there has been silence from most here in the West,” Cardoza-Moore said. “The message we’re trying to communicate is Israel’s battle is our battle, because we are grafted into the family of Abraham through Jesus Christ, and that’s why we must start by condemning anti-Semitism and Christian persecution. Here we are 70 years out from the biggest Holocaust of Jews, and 100 years from the Ottoman slaughter of Armenian Christians, and we are hearing silence on this issue in the Western church.”
Meanwhile, Turkey is rewriting its school textbooks with regard to the Armenian genocide, denying that it ever occurred, and Palestinian school children are taught geography with maps that do not include the state of Israel.
Joel Richardson, best-selling author of “The Islamic Antichrist” and the newly released “When a Jew Rules the World: What the Bible Really Says about Israel in the Plan of God,” returned just this week from a trip to Egypt and Iraq, where he visited Christian and Muslim refugee camps and met with Christian missionaries working under extreme duress.
He said the connection between revolutionary activists and anti-Semitic propaganda was summed up by the books he saw displayed in a Cairo bookstore.
“You had Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf,’ Obama’s ‘Audacity of Hope’ and a third book by (famous Argentine Marxist) Che Guevara, translated into Arabic,” Richardson said. “Mein Kampf has been a best-seller in the Arab world and Turkey throughout much of the past decade.”
Watch clip below of a recent sermon broadcast on Palestinian Authority TV in which Jews are called “apes” and “pigs” bent on harming Muslims.
The most powerful antidote to this sweeping descent into global anti-Semitism could be the Catholic Church, Cardoza-Moore said.
“That’s why we have to get the Catholic Church to take a stand. They still represent 1.2 billion Christians,” she said. “So if they have that much influence around the world, we need to leverage that and ask them to take the lead in condemning anti-Semitism.”
Christian author documents roots of anti-Semitism
Richardson’s new book, “When a Jew Rules the World,” documents the long history of Christian anti-Semitism that often comes cloaked in the form of anti-Zionism.
“I have two chapters where I do a survey of Christian persecution and mistreatment of the Jewish people. And I am of the opinion that every Christian seminary should have a mandatory class that surveys this history,” Richardson said. “It’s pretty much impossible to find a single Christian leader in the whole swath of Christian history until about 100 years ago that made statements that were favorable of the Jews.”
Richardson said the hatred started spewing forth around the third century A.D. and did not let up until the turn of the 20th century. Jew hatred was propagated by some of the biggest names in church history, such as St. John Chrysostom and St. Jerome in the early Catholic Church followed by the Great Reformer Martin Luther, who railed against the Jewish “pigs” and “Christ killers.”
Some church teachers even go as far as to claim that Jesus was not a Jew.
“It’s based on what I call the dangerous logic of replacement theology or supersessionism, and the logic is not simply that the church replaced the Jews but that God himself in 70 A.D. dissolved the nation of Israel and dissolved them as His people and dispersed them upon the nations,” Richardson said. “Once you believe that’s a permanent plan, and the notion of supersessionism is introduced, you open yourself up to replacement theology and Jew hatred.”
Targeting college campuses
Richardson doesn’t like what he is seeing on college campuses across America and Europe.
“Now you have this trend particularly in the youth that’s really trending back toward supersessionism and replacement theology, and it’s cast as being justice for the oppressed and standing with the Palestinians,” he said.
The most active player in fomenting hostility toward Israel on U.S. college campuses is the Muslim Student Association. The MSA has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been banned or suppressed in many countries including Israel, Russia, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Yet the Brotherhood has been coddled by the Obama administration as a legitimate voice for all Muslims.
At the University of California at Davis, just this week it was reported that Jew-hating thugs painted swastikas on a Jewish fraternity house. Jewish students on campus have also been harangued by Muslims screaming “Allahu Akbar,” the war cry of jihad.
The rise of such attacks, and the recent pressure by the MSA to have UC Davis divest of all companies that do business with Israel, led one member of the university’s student senate last month to proclaim that “Hamas and Shariah law have taken over UC Davis.”
Some of the most disturbing attacks have been occurring in Europe, which has a larger immigrant Muslim population than the U.S. Consider the following:
- Anti-Semitic attacks in the U.K. at highest level ever recorded, according to the Guardian, where 1,168 incidents against British Jews were recorded in 2014, more than double that of the previous year.
- The attack on the kosher grocery store in Paris on Jan. 9 actually followed a string of anti-Semitic attacks in France, reported Slate.
- Four people were fatally shot at a Jewish museum in Brussels, Belgium, in May 2014.
- A mob of 400 armed with petrol bombs rampaged into the mostly Jewish Paris suburb of Sarcelles on July 20, 2014, and attacked a synagogue, a pharmacy, and a kosher supermarket. Their banners read “Death to Jews” and “Slit Jews’ throats,” the Sunday Times reported. The supermarket burned to the ground.
- An 18-year-old Palestinian youth was arrested after hurling three Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany, in July 2014, in a failed attempt to set it on fire. The symbolism of the target was not lost on the Jewish community, which rebuilt the synagogue after it had been burnt to the ground on Kristallnacht, the Nazi pogrom in 1938, the Times of London reported.
- A week earlier, an 18-year-old Orthodox Jewish man was punched in the face on his way to synagogue in central Berlin. He described his attacker as “Arab or Turkish.”
- Elsewhere in Germany, protesters have reportedly chanted “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone!” while an imam allegedly “called Muslims to murder Jews in a sermon,” the Daily Telegraph reported.
- Even in Italy, where ant-Semitism has historically been rare, attacks are escalating. The New York Times reported that during Israel’s war with Hamas in the Gaza strip last summer, Jewish shop windows in several neighborhoods of Rome were defaced with swastikas and the words “Torch the synagogues” and “Jews your end is near.” Police said they suspected “right-wing extremists, possibly along with pro-Palestinian activists, carried out the acts,” according to the Times.
Anti-Semitism alive and well in the church
The Muslim Brotherhood influence has not only infiltrated the U.S. government but also the major Protestant denominations.
The United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church USA, followed by the World Council of Churches and many major universities, have opted to divest their pension funds from Israeli companies and multi-nationals that do business in Israel. Some advocates of this strategy have compared Israel to an “apartheid state” that should be treated the same as South Africa was in the 1970s and ’80s.
“They boycott Israel and call it divestment, not just of a nation but of an actual people, and they’re giving comfort and aid to some of the most genocidal hatred that the world has ever known in Islamic extremism,” Richardson said.
“The irony is that in the name of compassion and social justice for Palestinians, many young Christians are once again becoming vessels of hatred and anti-Semitism, and promulgating a theology that leads to Jew hatred,” Richardson said. “If they studied the history in the seminaries, we wouldn’t see a fraction of the hatred we see because they would see the result of replacement theology.”
For the last two years, the Rev. Stephen Sizer, a vicar in the Church of England, has traveled to Iran to speak at an anti-Semitic conference sponsored by radical Islamic elements including Holocaust deniers. Sizer himself has posted on his Facebook page articles that claim the 9/11 attacks were the work of the Israeli Mossad.
“He would say he’s there on behalf of human rights and justice, but the fact is, you’re standing in front of one of the most genocidal regimes, and you’re just pouring gasoline on the fire,” Richardson said. “You’re giving reason for them to go forward with their genocidal plans, this radical Islamic apocalyptic theology, clearly giving aid, comfort and theological support to those that literally want to wipe the entire nation of Israel off the map.”
Cardoza-Moore is also taking her case to the United Nations.
“Archbishop Lupoli has asked me to go down and rattle the cage,” she said. “Since 2011 when I go to these meetings with the human rights issues involving religious minorities they never bring up anti-Semitism, they never bring up anti-Christian persecution and I’m constantly in their face.”