Pope B.--friend of Israel?

November 24, 2016 22:51

At a pre-visit briefing for journalists at the Jerusalem press center set up for the visit of the pope, an Israeli newsman demanded to know who had come up with the message that was found in every press packet. "Israel Loves You," read the heart-shaped magnet in English. This, after Stas Mezeshnikov, the new tourism minister, had definitively stated in his opening remarks that Pope Benedict XVI is a true friend of Israel. "Certainly not everyone in Israel loves the pope," the Israeli reporter exclaimed.

In answer to the journalist's question, the minister said that the message applied to the army of pilgrims and media people who are accompanying the pontiff, as much as to the pope himself, "who is more than a wanted guest."

The incident highlighted what promises to be a far more contentious visit than that of Pope John Paul in 2000. A few demonstrations are planned, and commentators are wondering how the pope will handle questions about Vatican participation in Durban II; the pope's treatment of Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson; various recent statements about Israel's conduct and the fact that he was a member of the Hitler Youth Movement in the 1940s.

Add that to the draconian traffic rearrangements published in the weekend papers that will make everyone's life miserable in a city not designed to accommodate normal vehicular traffic, let alone papal levels of security and you have a recipe more inclined to exacerbate rather than improve Vatican-Israeli relations..

November 24, 2016 22:51

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