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August 07, 1981 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-08-07

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20 Friday, August 1, 1981

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

PLO Gunrunner Protected by Vatican

Capucci Filling European Press With PLO Propaganda

By LIZA PALMIERI-
BILLIG

ROME (JTA) — The Ita-
lian Jewish community is
seriously disturbed by the
Vatican's inability or un-

willingness to restrain
Msgr. Hilarion Capucci, the
former Melchite Catholic
Patriarch of Jerusalem,
who has emerged of late as
the foremost propagandist

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for the Palestine Liberation
Organization in Italy if not
all of Western Europe.
Despite the Vatican's
pledge that he would not be
allowed to engage in activi-
ties "detrimental to the
state of Israel," Capucci is
currently touring Italian
cities championing the
Palestinian cause and con-
demning Israel.
His flair for self-
dramatization has gained
him immense exposure in
the press, radio and televi-
sion. The media regularly
refers to him as "The Vati-
can's ambassador for
Mideast affairs."
Capucci was convicted
in Israel on Dec. 9, 1974 of
gun-running for Palesti-
nian terrorists and sen-
tenced to 12 years' im-
prisonment. But he was
released in 1977 by
President Ephraim Kat-
zir in response to an ap-

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peal by Pope Paul VI.
The Papal intervention
was accompanied by
written assurances from
the Vatican that Capucci
would be restricted
thereafter to pastoral
duties away from the
Middle East.
But after a brief stint in
South America, Capucci
brazenly violated the Vati-
can's solemn undertaking
by attending PLO meetings
in Syria and Lebanon and
resuming his propaganda
activities on behalf of the
terrorist organization. Pro-
te;ts from Jewish commu-
nity leaders have been to no
avail.
His Palestinian connec-
tions apparently convinced
church authorities that
Capucci could be "useful" in
Vatican attempts to
mediate the Iranian hos-
tage crisis last year. He "in-
tervened" on behalf of the
American hostages without
success but with considera-
ble publicity for himself and
criticism from some of the
hostages.
Later, he played a role in
arranging an audience for
Farouk Kaddoumi, the
PLO's foreign affairs
spokesman, with the Vati-
can Secretary of State, Car-
dinal Agostino Casaroli.
The Jewish community
protested vigorously.
Last April 1, the vice
president and the secre-
tary of the Union of Ita-
lian Jewish Com-
munities, Tullia Zevi and
_Alberto Levy, respec-
tively, were received by
the Vatian Secretary for
Public Affairs, Msgr.

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HILARION CAPUCCI

Achille Silvestrini who
acknowledged their pro-
test. But the Vatican
never denied Capucci's
involvement in gaining
an audience for the
PLO's No. 2 man — a
clear _ violation of its
promise that he would
not be allowed to engage
in political activities.
Jewish community lead-
ers have been trailing
Capucci on his propaganda
tour. But their letters to the
editors are a weak response
to the lengthy interviews
with Capucci published in
the newspapers of Leghorn,
Genoa and Padua.
His most recent stopover
was in Venice at the end of
June. He was received there
by a committee of local
political leaders headed by
Carlo Bernini, president of
the Venetian regional gov-
ernment. Two days of
dinners, speeches and press
conferences, attended by
representatives of the
region and the province,
were arranged for Capucci
by Walid Chazal, head of
the PLO office in Rome and
Gianfranco Lai, leader at
the leftist Partito Demo-
cratico di Unita Populare.
Capucci states that his ob-
jective is to "inform" public
opinion on the plight of the
Palestinian people and the
"PLO program." He insists

that his motivation is "reli-
gious, not political."
But his propaganda
line is identical to the
most extreme positions of
the PLO.
In an interview published
in the Leghorn daily, Il Tir-
reno, on May 24, Capucci
contended that Europe
must concentrate on "rec-
ognizing the inalienable na-
tional rights of Palesti-
nians, to the return of t
refugees to Palestine, to
building of an independe
Palestinian state and the
recognition of the PLO as
the only legitimate repre-
sentative of the Palestinian
people."
While Capucci insists
that his aim is "peace and
brotherly love, particularly
on the part of my Jewish
brothers," he fails to men-
tion the PLO's covenant cal-
ling for Israel's destruction.
He insists, in fact, that Is-,
rael's return to its 1967 bor-
ders would be only a first
step toward "a re-_
unification into a single
Palestinian nation with a
democratic, secular state in
which three religions can
live in peace."
Italian Jews are par-
ticularly concerned by
the way the Italian media
accepts Capucci's prop-
aganda without question
while ignoring his in-
volvement with ter-
rorists. To overlook his
false claims to have been
"Archbishop of
Jerusalem," a post he
created for himself, or to
be now the "representa-
tive of the Palestinian
(Christian) church in
exile" is almost farcical.
More serious is the resi-
due of anti-Israel sentiment
Capucci leaves wherever he
appears. Italian Jewry is
looking to the Vatican to
keep Capucci in line but so
far there has been no move
in that direction.

Jewish Languages Decline
in USSR: WJC Study Shows

LONDON — According to
a World Jewish Congress
(WJC) study, there has been
a sharp decline in the use of
Jewish languages, princi-
pally Yiddish, in the Soviet
Union. Some 14 percent of
the country's Jews now
name a Jewish language as
their mother tongue.
These findings are con-
tained in a report issued by
the WJC's London-based re-
search arm, the Institute of
Jewish Affairs. According
to the report, more than 83
percent of the Jewish popu-
lation named "Russian" as
their principal language.
In nine out of 11 Soviet
Republics there was a de-
cline in the percentage of
Jews citing a Jewish lan-
guage as their mother
tongue. The exceptions to
this trend — the Republics
of Uzbekistan and Georgia
— are attributed to techni-
cal factors. While Yiddish is
the most common Jewish
language in the USSR there

are also several Asian
Jewish languages, such as
Judeo-Tadzhik.
The percentage.of Jews
giving the Jewish lan-
guage as their mother
tongue ranged from a low
of nine percent in the Uk-
raine to a high of 41 per-
cent in the tiny Baltic Re-
public of Lithuania
among the 11 Republics
for which data has been
assembled. Ask
Even the high figure
Lithuania represents a sig-
nificant drop from the 62
percent reported some nine
years earlier. It is likely
that in some regions the
linguistic shifts were asso-
ciated with demographic
change, primarily emigra-
tion from the Soviet Union.
The study was prepared
by Dr. Lukasz Hirszowicz of
the institute who analyzed
statistics compiled from the
Soviet census of 1979 and
which have just been made
public.

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