Paris, 4 February 2021

In a letter to H.E. Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, Bishop of Reims and President of the Conference of Bishops of France, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre noted “its repeated warning that antisemitism in France was metastasizing – both through the anonymity of social media and through explosions of sickening violence – spurred by a Covid-related apocalyptic hate,” continuing, “the French Catholic Church has now addressed this issue, through the document ‘Fighting together against antisemitism and anti-Judaism will be the touchstone of all real fraternity’.”

The Declaration was signed this week by the Bishop with the support of personalities in the forefront of shaping France’s Catholic Church policy.

The Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, commended the Bishop for his opening speech “as impeccable and in the spirit of the close relationship of your Conference with, among others, the late Elie Wiesel, Cardinal Lustiger and Cardinal Vingt-Trois, as of Nostra Aetate and joint visits to Auschwitz... You invoke the name of Yehuda, son of Jacob and Leah as the source of the Jewish people... and the regard for ‘Israel, the people who received the Word of G-d, the People chosen by G-d, not only the People of Antiquity, but the Jewish People of yesterday and today, living spread among the nations and acting through the State of Israel’.”

The letter continued, “On the other hand, the official Declaration makes no reference to the Jewish State or to the antisemitism of anti-Zionism... Your Excellency, it would be an important step if the Declaration were to be accompanied by the Conference of Bishops adopting the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism, which covers all its terms – a definition widely endorsed across France.”

The Centre added, “Similarly, as Observer to the World Council of Churches (WCC), we would be grateful if the French Council of Bishops were to lead the Catholic Church in denouncing the WCC’s hostility to Israel, most clearly summed up in its following statement:

‘Christian Zionism is characterized as a view which distorts the interpretation of the Word of G-d’ and ‘it damages intra-Christian relations’... ‘what is a source of concern is that Islamic fundamentalisms are giving rise to a counter-reaction of other religious Fundamentalisms, the most dangerous of which is Jewish fundamentalism which exploits the Islamic fundamentalist phenomenon to justify before western societies the distasteful aberrations of Zionism in Palestine.’ (WCC website, 25 May 2013, retrieved 20/02/2015 by Wikipedia).

“Your Excellency, we hope that a complete Declaration of Solidarity will be read from the pulpits of all the churches of France and thus assist in containing resurgent antisemitism, a paradigm for all forms of hate, violence and intolerance,” concluded Samuels.

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