Anti-Semitism seen as threat to Catholics too

A new anti-Semitism is rising in several countries and could lead to dire consequences for democratic societies and members of all religions, according to witnesses who testified at a United States Congressional hearing.

Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders spoke of the threat anti-Semitism poses to non-Jewish communities and even to democratic government.

The hearing was called by Republican Congressman Chris Smith, chairman of the global human rights subcommittee of the House of Representatives.

“When we fight anti-Semitism it is not only a matter of justice for Jewish fellow-citizens, but also of standing up for Christianity, and for Islam, and for the possibility of decent living itself,” he said.

Speakers detailed examples of anti-Semitism in Eastern and Western Europe as well as the Middle East, including efforts to ban kosher slaughter and circumcision. State authorities were often slow to respond to anti-Semitic attacks, they said.

“Unfortunately,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, chairwoman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, “anti-Semitism remains a phenomenon that knows no national boundaries.”

Dr. M. Zuhudi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, said the radical nature of militant Islamist extremism has fueled an exodus of not only Jews but also Christians and moderate Muslims from many areas of the Middle East, creating a “vacuum of religious diversity” and a stifling of intellectual freedom.

Rabbi David Myer, professor of rabbinic literature at the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome, described the character of legal anti-Semitism in Europe. Attacks on religious practices will lead to attacks on all religious expression, he warned, and this “inevitably ends with attacks against Jews”.

John Garvey, president of Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., asserted that a “society that tolerates anti-Semitism cannot maintain a healthy democracy.”

This issue is also of particular interest to Catholics, continued Garvey, because “we are one family in the Abrahamic tradition” and so anti-Semitism “is an attack on our family”.

In Germany, circumcision has been called “a violation of individual rights and an outmoded and harmful religious practice”, he said, observing a connection between this reasoning and the arguments used in the US “for requiring Catholic institutions to cover prescription contraceptives, early stage abortifacients, and sterilisations”.


Catholic News Agency

Congressman Chris Smith

Image: Catholic News Agency

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