In the article, Anna Foa endorses the ideas of one of the leading scholars of Zionism, Georges Bensoussan. In the opinion of both, the state of Israel was not born as”redemption” from the extermination of the Jews carried out by Hitler . The real force behind the state was Zionism, already during the British mandate, with the settlement of that land by Jews who wanted to create a new man. The idea of the Holocaust as the foundation of the state of Israel gained strength only much later, after the Eichmann trial and especially after the war of Yom Kippur, in recent decades. And what paved the way for it – Anna Foa writes – was precisely the fifteen years of postwar silence: a silence “inhabited by repressed memories, by new fears identified with the ancient fears that had come true in the Holocaust, by the sense of guilt and the desire for revenge.”
Interpreted this way, the birth of the state of Israel is no longer that “original sin” which even today many of its friends and enemies ascribe to it. The latter of these include many Catholics, first among them the Arabs living in the region. The most authoritative of these, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal, was also in the synagogue of Rome yesterday, at the pope’s arrival.
According to this “vulgate,” the state of Israel was created by the great powers in order to remedy the previous extermination in Europe of six million Jews, which meant that one injustice was compensated by committing another against the local Arab population. In 1964, when Paul VI went to the Holy Land, the Church of Rome had not yet accepted the existence of the new state. And when three decades later, in 1993, the Holy See finally recognized the state of Israel and established diplomatic relations with it, the Arab Christians took this act as a betrayal.
But on the part of John Paul II, and now of Benedict XVI, the recognition of Israel no longer has any reservation.
While, on the other hand, the incessant use of the memory of the Holocaust as a weapon of accusation against the Church of Pius XII and of his successors prevents Judaism from leaving behind its identity as a victim.
This is how Anna Foa concludes her article in “L’Osservatore Romano.” By taking the Holocaust, instead of Zionism, as the foundation of its political and religious identity, Israel risks “clinging to catastrophe instead of hope in the future”; it closes itself off in “a sorrowful identity that always oscillates between Auschwitz and Jerusalem.”