For the convenience of readers, particularly the English speakers, significant parts of two articles (“the Jews will disappear – Storm over the Franciscans” and “Misinformation”) from the archives of the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, December 1997, have been translated here. These links have been posted before but it may be easier to view them together and with some explanation.
The above have to do with the uproar 13 years ago over a statement in a panel attached to an article in the bi-monthly publication of the Franciscans, La Terra Santa (or the Holy Land), edited then by Padre Armando Pierucci. From page 32 to 35 was an account written by P R Cetoloni, “Il Blocco per Betlemme” (Blockade of Bethlehem) mainly about the difficulties faced by Italians in a tour of the Holy Land when arriving to Bethlehem. This was a time where stringent measures were gradually able to control the carnage over ten years done by freely passing individuals from that area with bombs strapped onto them.
Strangely enough, the inflammatory comment and two pictures at the beginning and end had little to do with the content of the article. On page 32 is a rather primitively drawn cartoon with a distressed woman in a headscarf carrying a crying baby in front of barbed wire. On page 35 in the right side panel is a large print denunciation over a photo of an Arab woman carrying an older child. The juxtaposition of pictures and screed sticks in the mind, however, more than the article itself, a clever manipulation of public opinion that just seemed to increase in intensity, temerity and actually achieved success for its writer!
The denunciation in the panel is in remarkably strong language coming from someone who will be feted a decade later as a peacemonk:
“There is no blockade, nor military, nor bureaucracy against a mother and her child. Sooner or later life will succeed in passing. Unhappy is the people who put up a machinegun against a mother and her baby. This people is destined to disappear.” (trans.)
Non c’è blocco nè militare nè burocrato dinnanzi a una mamma col suo bambino. Prima o poi la vita riuscirà a passare. Infelice il popolo che mette un mitragliatrice dinnanzi a una mamma col suo bambino. È destinato a sparire, quel popolo.
A scandal ensued that went all the way up to the prestigious Corriere della Sera. Beniamino Lazar in his response rightly called attention to the cheap buzz words that were used. I would say this continued to be a regularly recurring pattern, except demagogery using facile slogans has morphed into shining icons of love and peace!
Controversy in Jerusalem over an article
“The Jews will disappear” – Storm over the Franciscans
Controversy in Jerusalem over an article “‘The Jews will disappear’ Storm over the Franciscans” JERUSALEM It is a tough debate between Benjamin Lazar, president of the Jews of Italian origin in Israel, and the Franciscan magazine “Terra Santa” printed in Jerusalem. “It is an anti-Semitic publication with increasing hostile tones that now has really hit rock bottom,” protests Lazar speaking to the “Corriere”. “History proves that, if the Jews continue to repress the Palestinian people with weapons, the future will take revenge against them,” replied the Franciscan editor, Father Armando Pierucci.
An event that exploded before Christmas will perhaps force the same Latin Patriarch, Michel Sabbah, a Palestinian, to try to calm the waters. Everything began with an article published in the latest issue of the journal in which it tells of difficulties faced by Christian pilgrims that summer due to the closure imposed by the Israeli military in Bethlehem. “Unhappy is the people who put a gun in front of a mother with her child. And (they are) destined to disappear, these people” written in a side panel. Lazar responded by sending a peremptory letter to Pierucci: “It is not the first time that you use anti-Israel and anti-Semitic terms… But this time I feel you have reached the limit, I demand an explanation.” (trans.)
Page 11, December 11, 1997, Corriere della Sera
Polemica a Gerusalemme per un articolo ‘Gli ebrei spariranno’
Polemica a Gerusalemme per un articolo “‘Gli ebrei spariranno’ Bufera sui francescani GERUSALEMME” E’ polemica dura tra Beniamino Lazar, presidente dell’associazione degli ebrei di origine italiana in Israele, e la rivista francescana “Terra Santa” stampata a Gerusalemme. “E’ una pubblicazione antisemita, dai toni sempre ostili, che ora ha davvero toccato il fondo”, protesta Lazar parlandone con il “Corriere”. “La storia prova che, se gli ebrei continueranno a reprimere con le armi il popolo palestinese, il futuro si vendichera’ contro di loro”, replica il direttore francescano, padre Armando Pierucci.
Una vicenda che esplode prima del Natale e costringera’ forse lo stesso patriarca latino, il palestinese Michel Sabbah, a cercare di calmare le acque. Il tutto inizia con un articolo pubblicato sull’ultimo numero della rivista in cui si racconta delle difficolta’ incontrate dai pellegrini cristiani, quest’estate, a causa della chiusura imposta dai militari israeliani su Betlemme. “Infelice il popolo che mette una mitragliatrice dinanzi a una mamma col suo bambino. E’ destinato a sparire, quel popolo”, si legge in un riquadro. Lazar risponde inviando una lettera perentoria a Pierucci: “Non e’ la prima volta che usate termini antisemiti e antiisraeliani…Ma questa volta ho l’impressione abbiate raggiunto il limite, richiedo una spiegazione”. Cremonesi Lorenzo
Pagina 11 (11 dicembre 1997) – Corriere della Sera
Misinformation AGAINST ISRAEL With reference to the article “The Jews will disappear – Storm over the Franciscans” (Corriere, December 11) while avoiding insults, personal attacks and irony, I regard the words of the Franciscan Father Armando Pierucci, editor of the “Terra Santa” magazine printed in Jerusalem, very bad and offensive towards Israel and the Jewish people. The impression is the disinformation campaign against Israel is being restarted stronger, which cannot attach itself to presumed Israeli “belligerence” but exploits topics with a facile grip on public opinion of the majority of the Christian faith.
I would remind Father Pierucci what the Pope said in April 1993, when the priests preach and “all those who exercise the ministry of the word with writings, publications, radio or television transmissions” should not express their point of view, their psychological experience, not to make a display of “exhibitionism “or worse, to instill “doubts” among the faithful. I believe the words of Father Armando Pierucci unjust, they do not oppose injustice or serve to make good prevail. Nabissi Galliano, regional President of the Italy-Israel Association, Marche (trans.)
Page 41, December 21, 1997, Corriere della Sera
La disinformazione CONTRO ISRAELE In riferimento all’articolo “Gli ebrei spariranno – bufera sui francescani” (Corriere, 11 dicembre) ed evitando insulti, attacchi personali, ironie, ritengo le parole del Direttore francescano Padre Armando Pierucci della rivista “Terra Santa” stampata a Gerusalemme, molto cattive ed offensive nei riguardi di Israele e del popolo ebraico. L’impressione e’ quella che sia ricominciata piu’ duramente la campagna di disinformazione contro Israele, la quale non potendo piu’ aggrapparsi alla presunta “bellicosita” israeliana, sfrutta argomenti di facile presa sull’opinione pubblica, nella maggioranza di fede cristiana.
Ricordo a Padre Pierucci cosa disse il Papa nell’aprile del 1993: i sacerdoti quando predicano e “tutti coloro che esercitano il ministero della parola, con scritti, le pubblicazioni, le trasmissioni radiofoniche e televisive” non devono esprimere il loro punto di vista personale, la loro esperienza psicologica, non devono fare sfoggio di “esibizionismo” o peggio instaurare dei “dubbi” nei fedeli. Ritengo le parole di Padre Armando Pierucci ingiuste e non opporsi all’ingiustizia non e’ mai servito per far prevalere il bene. Galliano Nabissi Pres. regionale Associazione Italia -Israele,Marche
Pagina 41 (21 dicembre 1997) – Corriere della Sera
It would be nice if these two articles could “disappear” as the “people” so named according to the editor should do. In a dictatorship anything inconvenient or unflattering would just be sent down the memory hole to be evaporated. Unfortunately for those who would like to manipulate the truth rather than witness to it, universal cyber communication means that somewhere there will be a hard or soft copy, email, fax, scan or any type of digital storage to remind them of what did happen and who they really are.
Even if the Church owned Corriere della Sera or had enough clout to exert pressure to obliterate anything that would reflect unpleasantly on them (this happened on a few occasions in other contexts), the silent witnesses would still remain in some form or another. This is precisely the level of accountability one risks in going public. Secluded religious would like to use mass communication for self-promotion but it can turn into a boomerang to hit them on their most vulnerable parts – the need to protect their own no matter how pathological, and to claim a default monopoly on truth.
These articles testify if nothing else, to a different side other than the praise, prizes and applause of recent years. But more than that, there is something particularly perverted in courting recognition and publicity for making with “safe” Jews, those already converted peaceniks, nominal Russian Christians whose names sound Jewish (!) and of course the insignificant number of non-Palestianians that pass through the Magnificat Institute presided over by the same editor of “Terra Santa”, the pretext for medals, honorariums and unlimited personal publicity. Real Israeli Jews they can make peace with in their secluded monastery compound are about as numerous as hen’s teeth.