Tuesday, 15 September 2009

It's happening in a London rabbinical college...

It's happening today in a famous progressive London rabbinical college, at the beginning of the new semester.

Or at least, so it seems reading this. It looks like a(n in) famous book, Hitler's Pope, by John Cornwell has been actually
included in the required readings for a history of the Shoah course to be followed by student rabbis.

"Hitler's Pope", by John Cornwell. Not a serious, academic textbook by a competent, peer-reviewed historian: a sensational book
about the alleged role of Pope Pius XII during WWII, written by a 'journalist and author'.

A book that has been widely criticised for its extreme unfairness regarding Pius XII. Starting, as this article thouroughly explains, from the book cover itself.
A book that has deserved such criticism, that an entire volume, The myth of Hitler's Pope: how Pope Pius XII rescued Jews from
the Nazis, by rabbi David G. Dalin (here's the book in Google Books) has been devoted to debunking it.

A book so unfaithful and so ultimately untruthful that the author himself has admitted its enormous flaws:

"I would now argue, in the light of the debates and evidence following 'Hitler's Pope', that Pius XII had so little scope of action that it is impossible to judge the motives for his silence during the war, while Rome was under the heel of Mussolini and later occupied by the Germans." (here's the source)

"While I believe with many commentators that the pope might have done more to help the plight of the Jews, I now feel, 10 years after the publication of my book, that his scope for action was severely limited and I am prepared to state this... Nevertheless, due to his ineffectual and diplomatic language in respect of the Nazis and the Jews, I still believe that it was incumbent on him to explain his failure to speak out after the war. This he never did." (The Bulletin (Philadelphia, Sept. 27, 2008)

Why is it that a serious, respectable institution, probably the most important progressive rabbinical college in Europe, is imposing such a book to his students ? It's frankly unbelievable: maybe the funny guy who posted the original news has been the victim of a sophisticated prank. Ah, those Brits..

UPDATE - A funny student from London has let me know that the current (September 15th 2009) Wikipedia entry for rabbi David G. Dalin contains a selective quote from a very favorable article by Joseph Bottum, aimed at ...discrediting Mr. Dalin's work. Please read the original article, and compare it with the text of the wikipedia entry. Sheesh! I'll update the Wikipedia entry as soon as possible.

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