web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Palestinians, the Pope and Peace

In venting their anger about a wreath for Herzl, the Palestinians demonstrate that their real problem with Israel isn’t about borders. It is, instead, an argument about the legitimacy of a Jewish state.
Jonathan S. Tobin is Senior Online Editor of Commentary magazine.

Jonathan S. Tobin is Senior Online Editor of Commentary magazine.
Photo Credit: Commentarymagazine.com

Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to the Middle East is fraught with political and religious symbolism and events on his itinerary are raising the temperatures on both sides of the Middle East divide.

In Israel, some are upset about the way the Vatican is treating his stops in the West Bank as if it is a state visit to a sovereign “State of Palestine” that, in fact, does not exist.

Others are upset about the Israeli government’s decision to allow Francis to celebrate a mass on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, a site that Jews believe is the Tomb of King David and Christians think is the place where the Last Supper took place.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians are up in arms over the fact that the Pope will visit Mount Herzl, Israel’s national cemetery outside the capital and lay a wreath on the tomb of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. And therein hangs the tale not only of a pope caught in the middle of a bitter clash in which any seemingly innocuous gesture of good will can become a source of tension but the issue that lies at the very core of a century-long conflict.

The context of the papal visit is the desire of Francis, a man already renowned for his caring persona and a desire to create outreach with all peoples, to plant a flag of ecumenism in the midst of a steadily worsening environment for Christians in the Middle East.

The rise of Islamism has made the situation of all non-Muslim minorities in the region and none are in a more precarious situation than that of Palestinian Christians, who have left the administered territories in large numbers since the Oslo Accords that handed over effective control of these areas to the Palestinian Authority. But, instead, a bogus campaign of incitement has sought to convince the world that Israel, the one nation in the region where freedom of religion prevails is the problem for the Christians.

Nevertheless, tensions between Palestinian Arabs and Jews have at times bubbled over into religious tension. Far right extremist Jews appear to have been guilty of vandalism at some churches, a deplorable development that has generated international outrage that is notably missing when Jewish institutions are routinely given the same treatment by Arabs.

The dispute at Mount Zion is typical of the kind of disputes that develop at the holy places. The shrine there has been under Jewish control for decades. Indeed, prior to the unification of Jerusalem and the liberation of the Western Wall, it was considered by many to be the most sacred spot inside pre-1967 Israel. While the Israeli protests about the mass seem intolerant, they are generated by fears that the site will be handed over to the church which would compromise Jewish sovereignty over the capital as well as possibly infringe on Jewish worship there. The Israeli government is clearly opposed to such a transfer and if they allow Christians more access to the site for their worship, it is to be hoped that both sides will live and let live.

While Israelis would have preferred that the Vatican not jump the gun and recognize “Palestine” without the Arabs first being required to make peace. Such recognition lessens the pressure on the Palestinians to negotiate in good faith but there is little rancor over the pope’s desire to visit what is, for intents and purposes, a separate country in the West Bank. But the Herzl dispute is more serious than just another tit-for-tat argument.

In venting their anger about a wreath for Herzl, the Palestinians are once again demonstrating that their real problem with Israel isn’t West Bank settlements or where the border should be after a peace treaty. It is, instead, an argument about the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders wind up being drawn. Herzl, who died in 1904, isn’t connected in any way to the grievances Palestinians and their foreign cheerleaders vent their spleen about. But he is, in no small measure, responsible for the birth of the movement responsible for the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty over the historic homeland of his people. If Palestinians have a problem with Herzl, it’s because they still can’t bring themselves to change a political culture that regards rejection of Zionism as integral to their identity as a people.

Jews rightly see the pope’s presence at Mount Herzl, as a much needed act of historical justice. During his campaign to gain international recognition for the right of the Jewish people to return to their homeland and create their own state, Herzl visited Francis’ predecessor Pope Pius X 110 years ago.

That pope contemptuously rejected Herzl’s plea, a response that was very much in keeping with Catholic doctrine at the time that regarded perpetual exile as an appropriate punishment for the Jewish people for their refusal to accept Christianity. Fortunately, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II have already changed the church’s attitude toward Judaism and Zionism. While most Jews may disagree with some of the Vatican’s policies with regards to the Palestinians, there is no question that the two faiths are now closer than they have ever been. By paying his respects to Herzl, Francis is solidifying that bond.

But until the Palestinians give up their war on Zionism and find a way to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. The papal visit may not change much about interfaith relations but, unfortunately, that one stop on his itinerary demonstrates just how unlikely peace remains.

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

8 Responses to “The Palestinians, the Pope and Peace”

  1. It fits. Hertzl wanted the Jews to convert to Christianity…

  2. It fits. Hertzl wanted the Jews to convert to Christianity…

  3. It fits. Hertzl wanted the Jews to convert to Christianity…

  4. The Pope is a good man just like the royal family, only price Charles Lol, but but I believe everything has a fix, we have to get to know people better and their political and social background before we hope into conclusions. Thank

  5. And you can still be Jewish and Catholic and keep regular customs, it does not matter family brothers.

  6. Lies. He plagiarized his findings. I wonder what happens when people find out I’m not dead and start suing for theft and plagiarizing? Lies .0001%, one person out of 1000. Was against a Jewish state. One person. One person. Angry someone is using my knowledge and research for evil purposes

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Pope Francis for trying to make peace. Although meeting with an Imam who calls for genocide is a bit insensitive. But here's some information that you need to know. There never has been, there is not now and there never will be a country called "Palestine." The Arab/ Moslems squatting on land in and around Israel are overwhelmingly either descendants of invaders, illegal immigrants or trespassers. The term "Palestinian" was popularized after the Six Day War in '67 in an attempt to delegitimize Israel. There are already 21 Arab/ Moslem dominated countries spread out over a few millions square miles of territory. The Arab/ Moslems are not interested in creating a 22nd Arab controlled country. Their only desire is to annihilate the one and only Jewish state.

  8. Ch Hoffman says:

    Tobin is as adept at playing the victim card as any of the soft-right at Commentary.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jews Against Genocide mimicked and blasphemed the ALS Ice Bucket  Challenge with their anti-Israel "Blood Bucket Challenge."
‘Jews Against Genocide’ Take ‘Blood Bucket Challenge’ at Yad Vashem [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
terrorists

Is the global community clear in its response to these extremist groups?

obama

Like our fabled character, Don Quixote, President Obama has constantly spawned his own reality.

Ayatollah Hossein-Kazamani Boroujerdi, in better times (left) and in his prison cell (right).

Boroujerdi was informed that “the pressures and tortures will increase until he has been destroyed.”

Senior Hamas and Fatah leaders in Gaza City on April 22. Hamas and Fatah signed a deal to establish a unity government, but since then little progress has been made.

Fatah: Hamas stole relief aid for Gaza and distributed it amongst its followers in mosques.

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

Washington remains ignorant of the need to dismantle alliances with various Muslim countries.

Defeating IS requires bombing its strongholds and recognizing the violent nature of Islam.

Abbas again used the UN to attack Israel, distort history, and undermine prospects for peace.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot even agree to move their clocks back on the same day.

Shemita is about relating to each other by temporarily eliminating gaps of wealth power & status

David transcended adversity to become a leader; Who are we to make excuses for a lack of greatness?

sympathy: Feeling sorrow or pity for another’s tribulations; Empathy:sharing an emotional experience

Last week the president announced a four-point plan. Unfortunately, there’s little buy-in from our European and Middle Eastern allies. Here’s my own four-point plan that may be more palatable to our allies.

Rosh Hashanah has an obvious connection to God’s Kingship. We constantly refer to Him during the Asseres Yemei Teshuvah as Melech/King. The nusach of the tefillah, referring to Rosh Hashanah as “a remembrance of the first day” (of Creation), implies a certain dimension of divine kingship operating at the time of Creation and replicated every […]

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

More Articles from Jonathan S. Tobin
German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Jerusalem at the President's Residence, February 2014 (archive)

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

Bomb Shelter

One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]

How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.

Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Arabs that Hamas has made a mistake.

Z STREET will have the ability to compel IRS officials to testify as to their practices and produce all records.

“Death of Klinghoffer” opera frames the issue as Israel’s existence being the real crime.

Palestinian leaders claim the kidnapping is an Israeli hoax or the act of Jewish criminals rather than terrorists.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-palestinians-the-pope-and-peace/2014/05/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: