Turning to the resurgence of anti-Semitism, Rabbi Hier said that seventy-five years after the infamous Kristallnacht pogrom (the Night of Broken Glass), a poll commissioned by the respected Ebert Foundation estimates that 150 million Europeans still harbor anti-Jewish sentiment. “Your Holiness, we know that we have you as an ally in our struggles against anti-Semitism, and we want to reiterate to you that you have an ally in the Simon Wiesenthal Center in your struggle to secure the rights of religious minorities everywhere, especially endangered historic Christian communities in Egypt, Iraq and beyond,” Hier said.
“Finally, we are delighted that Your Holiness has accepted an invitation to visit Israel next year – the spiritual center of the Jewish people, where Jews, Christians and Muslims are free to practice their faith and to express their opinions without fear or repression. May your presence there help all those committed to a lasting Middle East peace to finally recognize the existence of a Jewish state alongside her twenty-three Arab neighbors,” Rabbi Hier concluded.
In his remarks, Pope Francis reaffirmed his condemnation “of all forms of anti-Semitism” adding, the “problem of intolerance must be confronted in all its forms…[including] the marginalization and the very real persecutions which not a few Christians are undergoing in various countries.”
Simon Wiesenthal Center Chairman of the Board, Larry Mizel, presented the Pope with a specially- commissioned Jerusalem stone menorah with a quote from Psalms reflecting the new Pontiff’s emphasis on values of kindness and good deeds– “Righteousness and Justice are His Throne’s Foundation.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).