Harvard academic Alan Dershowitz has hit out at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) over its support for an allegedly antisemitic candidate for next pope, saying he intends “to fight this all the way to Rome”.
In a letter published in the Miami Herald, Mr Dershowitz accused Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras of propagating conspiracy theories about Jews, describing him as an “unrepentant sinner” who has compared the “Jewish-controlled media” to Hitler for its persecution of the church.
He said the cardinal, a possible replacement for Pope Benedict XVI, blamed the Jews for “the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners.”
Mr Dershowitz added: “He has argued that the Jews got even with the Catholic Church for its anti-Israel positions by arranging for the media — which they, of course, control — to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal.”
But National Director of the ADL Abraham Foxman defended the cardinal. “As far as we are concerned, the issue is closed,” he said.
“He has never said anything of the same sort in the past 10 years. He is involved in a Catholic Jewish dialogue group in Latin America and has never repeated any such views.”
Mr Dershowitz attacked the ADL’s position. He said: “You can’t apologise for the kinds of views that the cardinal expressed. Deep in his soul, he believes that Jews are responsible for all these evils.
“To me, the apology was too little,” he said. “To have a pope who ever expressed views like that would be absolutely unacceptable.
“If he wants to really rehabilitate himself, he ought to be making hundreds of speeches in Spanish about this in Honduras, rather than speaking to Abe Foxman in New York,” the law professor said.
During a 2002 interview with Italian-Catholic magazine 30 Giorni, Cardinal Maradiaga claimed that Jews were influencing media coverage of child abuse by members of the church in order to detract from coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
At the time, Mr Foxman released a statement expressing “outrage” that the cardinal had “alleged Jewish manipulation of the American media”.
In a later conversation with Mr Foxman, Cardinal Maradiaga apologised and said he never meant his comments to be taken in that way and that he would not say it again.
Mr Dershowitz is a respected criminal appellate lawyer, who acted as an adviser in the OJ Simpson trial. He is also an author of a book on law, politics and the Arab-Israeli conflict.