where was god when israel deported african refugees

How should religious institutions respond when the regimes that rule the territories they inhabit incite racism and carry out ethnic cleanings?

Seventy-five years after Pius XII became pontiff on the eve of World War Two, his successor Francis is still wrestling with this question. In an interview last week with La Vanguardia following a visit to Israel, the reigning pope admitted that Pius made mistakes but defended his record. Although the wartime pope didn’t speak out against anti-Semitic crimes committed by the fascists, he did hide dozens of Jewish babies from them, Francis insisted, and holding his tongue may have saved the lives of those infants. Was that enough?


In Israel, the question of how faith institutions should respond to a state-sponsored drive for racial-religious purity is also of great relevance today.

While it is Palestinian Christians and Muslims who have traditionally borne the brunt of efforts to Judaize or de-Gentile-ize the country, another ethnic out-group has competed with them in recent years for the wrath of Israeli ultra-nationalists: African asylum-seekers. After 60,000 sub-Saharan Africans, Christian and Muslim, sought refuge in Israel from political persecution and ethnic cleansing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched a multi-pronged campaign to expel them all.

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