Catholics, Jews draft statement on schools, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism
By Jerry Filteau
6/23/2006

Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com)
WASHINGTON – The annual U.S. Catholic-Orthodox Jewish consultation drafted a joint statement on school choice and heard a report on anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism on the Internet during a meeting in New York June 14.

According to the report, the Internet has more than 5,000 hate sites and computer game offerings that are anti-Semitic or anti-Catholic or both.

The consultation involves the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and the Rabbinical Council of America and Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

In a joint press communique after the meeting, released by the USCCB in Washington June 20, the participants said the statement on school choice “was approved, pending several minor emendations.”

Eugene Fisher, an associate director of the USCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said the statement should be released this summer.

The communique said the statement addresses “the various constitutional approaches being considered in various states to provide equitable means of addressing the needs of the widest range of children, especially low-income families in various religious communities.”

Mark Weitzman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center presented the results of his study of hate sites on the Internet.

The communique said he told the group that hatred-promoting games on the Internet include such action as shooting “wetbacks” – Mexican immigrants – and running death camps for Jews.

“There are a number of common themes in the sites aimed primarily at Jews and/or the Catholic Church,” the communique said. “Both are frequently linked with Satan and portrayed as conspiratorial, ever plotting to take over the world, and as polluting the racial purity of the white race.”

Weitzman also found significant differences.

“What makes the two forms of hate-mongering different,” the communique said, “is that the anti-Catholic sites do not call for genocide of all Catholics as the anti-Semitic sites do for Jews, and they are not sponsored by governments, while a number of anti-Semitic sites are sponsored by Arab governments.”

Weitzman told the group that there is a need to alert schools, public and private, “that they cannot simply assign a topic and let children loose on the Net,” the communique said.

“Jews and Catholics must work together to combat the stereotypes of us both that are all too prevalent in modern society,” it added.

The co-chairman of the meeting on the Catholic side was Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y. The Jewish co-chairman was Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills congregation in New York, chairman of the Interreligious Affairs Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America.