ROME — Pope Francis said Monday selfishness leads to populism, which in turn gives rise to antisemitism.
Addressing a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in the Vatican, the pontiff offered a systematic, “connect-the-dots” thought experiment tying selfishness to anger, anger to populism, populism to hatred, and hatred to antisemitism.
“The rise of a selfish indifference in many parts of the world is worrisome, by which people are only interested in what makes them comfortable: life is good if it is good for me and when something goes wrong, it unleashes anger and malice,” the pope began.
“This is the fertile ground for the particularisms and populisms that we see around us. Hatred is growing rapidly in this soil. Hatred. Sow hatred,” he continued.
“Once again we have witnessed the barbaric upsurge of antisemitism recently,” he concluded.
The pope’s analysis of the root causes of antisemitism came just a day after the Italy’s most popular politician, Matteo Salvini, offered a completely different — and less politically correct — answer to the same question.
In an interview with Israel Hayom Sunday, Salvini said the recent surge in antisemitism in Europe is primarily due to the mass immigration of Muslims on the continent.
“I think that it has to do with the strengthening of Islamic extremism and fanaticism in the last years,” Salvini said. “Most importantly it is connected to the fact that some academics and media are mobilized against Israel and they create hate of Israel to justify antisemitism.”
Salvini said a certain level of antisemitism has always existed on the extreme left and the extreme right, but its current growth has to be attributed to a shift in Europe’s population.
“There is, of course, antisemitism of small political minority groups – Nazis and communists,” Salvini said. “But, now the massive presence in Europe of migrants coming from Muslim countries, among whom are many fanatics who are getting the full support of certain intellectuals, is spreading antisemitism in Italy as well.”
The liberal media always tries to blame European antisemitism on the rise of right-wing parties, Salvini noted, but the facts do not support this theory.
“There is far-right antisemitism, and there is a far-left antisemitism, which is institutionalized,” he said. “Think of Jeremy Corbyn, or the left activists in Germany, who didn’t want to be like the Nazis and ended up boycotting Israeli products.”
“I am sure, however, that the high number of Muslims in Europe is the main cause for the current antisemitism,” he said.