ADL Calls on Vatican to Denounce Terrorist Takeover of Bethlehem Church
New York, NY, April 12, 2002 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed "profound disappointment" with the Vatican for its failure to condemn the armed takeover of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem by wanted Palestinian terrorists.
"This is not sanctuary, but a violent and calculated attempt to exploit the holiness of the Church and its clergy for military advantage," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "The Vatican must condemn these terrorists and their barbarous acts against humanity."
"These are armed terrorists, not helpless civilians," Mr. Foxman said. "They are trained killers who will kill again if allowed to go free."
In a letter to the Vatican Secretary of State, Angelo Cardinal Sodano, Mr. Foxman urged the Holy See to condemn the takeover of the church "in the clearest possible terms." The letter noted that among the Palestinian militants hiding in the church are wanted terrorists and known operatives for the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the organization responsible for a wave of recent suicide bombings against civilians.
The governor of Bethlehem, Mohammed al-Madani, has indicated that the gunmen are "taking instruction from Yasir Arafat who is demanding that they remain in the Church until the Israelis withdraw from Bethlehem." A clergy member evacuated from the church told a journalist that the other clergy inside "have no choice. The militants have guns and we do not."
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.