Happy Birthday, Duke of Wellington

Wellington
King and Country item NA256 resting on the second tome of Rory Muir’s biography of the Duke of Wellington, with the Union Jack flag in the background.

Happy Birthday to the Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, victor of Waterloo. An extraordinary figure whose unparalleled contribution helped saved Europe and the world from Napoleonic hegemony and tyranny. He would be 247 years old!

USSR and Red Army contributions were essential in defeating Hitler

With the risk of sounding repetitive, I feel it is important to stress the contribution of the USSR to WW2. With the Western countries’ voluntary amnesia when the time comes to commemorate and express gratitude for the sacrifices endured by the Soviet people, I strongly believe certain truths need to be reminded, often. I came upon these very interesting graphics yesterday on Twitter, which led me to the following blog. Even though they are in French, the images speak for themselves.

High and low estimations of war casualties, in the millions. source: www.les-crises.fr
High and low estimations of war casualties, in the millions. source: http://www.les-crises.fr
For every American soldier killed, 60 Soviet soldiers were killed. source: www.les-crises.fr
For every American soldier killed, 60 Soviet soldiers were killed. source: http://www.les-crises.fr

Without the Red Army, winning World War II would have been just impossible. True, Winston Churchill provided with the moral courage to carry on during the darkest hours of the conflict, notably at the very beginning and the United States provided essential material through the lend-lease agreements. But, when you look at these two very eloquent graphics, you cannot fail – if you are intellectually honest – to realize that the Soviet boots were essential to win the war on the ground.

I use the word sad, but I should write shameful. You can’t rewrite history with the blood of those who fell and the sweat of those who fought.

Anti-Semitism on the rise by nearly 40%

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Rome (Gemelli station), summer 2014.

Last Saturday night, my family and I went to the Synagogue. We are not Jewish. We are proud Catholics. And we believe in the dialogue and friendship between Catholic and Jewish people. And we are always eager to express our solidarity with the Jewish people.

One particular discussion with a middled-aged Jewish man struck a chord in me. In a resigned tone, this gentleman expressed his discouragement at the alarming rise of anti-Semitism in Europe.

This reminded me of the recent study completed by Tel Aviv University researchers, which revealed that the year 2014 had been characterized by the fact that ant-Semitic incidents rose by nearly 40%.

This is more than preoccupying, since:

“The overall feeling among many Jewish people is one of living in an intensifying anti-Jewish environment that has become not only insulting and threatening, but outright dangerous, and that they are facing an explosion of hatred towards them as individuals, their communities, and Israel, as a Jewish state,” the authors wrote.

Last summer, while waiting for a train at a Rome station, I noticed a large swastika painted on the locomotive. In the last months, I have also heard an alarming number of anti-Semitic comments and observations by various people.

Anti-Semitism is a cancer that is eating up the spirit of tolerance of Europe – and many other parts of the world. We need to fight it with all our energies and determination. For, as Pope Francis recently said “a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!” And I totally agree with him.

I just wish I could join up with the participants of the upcoming 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem. I’ll make sure to attend in 2017. Now, more than ever, we need such venues.