The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized the communiqué issued by the Vatican Synod following a conference called by Pope Benedict XVI to discuss the plight of Christians in the Middle East, in which the chosenness of the Jewish people was said to be nullified by Christ, the Jewish biblical claim to the land of Israel dismissed, Israel described as occupying Palestinian lands, being guilty of the displacement of Palestinians, and supporting the so-called Palestinian right of return which would bring about Israels demise if implemented was affirmed.
The ZOA has criticized the statement as a return to past anti-Semitic Catholic positions denying Jewish chosenness as recorded in the Hebrew Bible and condemning Israel with the falsehood that it is an occupier that displaced Palestinians, rather than the victim of a seven Arab nation 1948 attack designed to destroy the fledging Jewish state on its first day of sovereign existence, without which no Palestinian refugees would have been created and without which there would exist a Palestinian Arab state today. It has also criticized the statement for its anti-Semitic focus on alleged Israeli wrong-doing, despite the Synods purpose having been ostensibly to discuss the problems faced by dwindling Catholic communities in the Middle East.
In yesterdays communiqué from the Synod, Monsignor Cyril Salim Bustros, Greek Melkite Archbishop of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Boston, MA, and president of the Commission for the Message, said that, The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians, to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands … We Christians cannot speak of the promised land as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people. This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people. Even if the head of the Israeli state is Jewish, the future is based on democracy. The Palestinian refugees will eventually come back and this problem will have to be solved.
Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See, Mordechay Lewy responded to the communiqué, saying that saying that Jesus has nullified G-ds covenant with the Jewish people was returning to successionist theology, contradicting Second Vatican Council teaching and Pope Benedict himself who has welcomed the return of Jews to their ancient homeland … Also … by inviting all Palestinian refugees to return and denying Israels right to define itself a Jewish state the only such in the world he is regressing to hard-line positions that deny Israels right to exist (Vatican synod calls for end to Israels occupation, Jerusalem Post, October 23, 2010).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We strongly and unequivocally criticize this outrageous and anti-Semitic, anti-Israel statement issued by Archbishop Bustros, which shows contempt for the Hebrew Bible and revives the anti-Semitism of the Church which we thought had been finally rescinded decades ago. This has not been the view expressed by Pope Benedict XVI, or his predecessor, John Paul II, or of the Second Vatican Council.
The ZOA has written to Pope Benedict a letter stating, How are we to take the Vaticans word when it can casually revert to past anti-Semitism and discard the laudable effort of recent years to rescind its anti-Jewish theological problems? It is noteworthy that the Vatican Synod emphasizes Israel and Jews, ignoring the fact that Bethlehem, once under Israeli control and with a population that was 80% Christian, is now under the Palestinian Authority and has only a Christian population of 10%, because life for Christians there has been made so miserable by the Palestinian Authority, the Christians have left in droves. And this is nothing new we note that 70% of Christians in eastern Jerusalem left the city during the years 1948-1967, when it was under Jordanian Arab control. Coptic Christians are also leaving Egypt because of discrimination and attacks by Muslims. We note that Saudi Arabia allows not a single church or the practice of Christianity. We find it hard to believe that when Catholics throughout the Middle East with the sole exception of Catholics living in Israel face declining numbers, persecution, violence and insecurity, the Vatican Synod called to discuss these problems does not focus on Islamist terrorism, Muslim supremacism, Arab state repression, or any of the genuine threats that Middle East Catholics face, but upon Israel and its alleged occupation and displacement of Palestinians, while ignoring Arab/Palestinian assaults upon and non-acceptance of Israel. We respectfully urge you to disassociate yourself from the Archbishop Bustros words and make it clear that this communiqué does not speak for the Catholic Church.