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The Pope’s Disgraceful Tribute To Arafat

From the way world leaders reacted to the death of Yasir Arafat, you could be forgiven if you had mistakenly believed that Mother Theresa had died. Kofi Annan, a man whose diplomatic career has been dedicated to friendship with tyrants and contempt for their victims, declared himself “deeply moved” by Arafat’s death and ordered the UN flag flown at half-mast.

This is not all that surprising given that Annan is the same man who overruled UN Gen. Romeo Dallaire in April 1994 and ordered him not to use his UN forces to disarm the Hutus and prevent them from hacking to death 800,000 Tutsis. Kofi Annan is undeniably one of the most corrupt (he is currently blocking all U.S. Senate efforts to investigate the UN-Iraq oil-for-food rip-off) and immoral men alive, and his leadership of the UN exposes it for the farce it has tragically become.

Then there was French President Jacques Chirac, whose stomach-turning pronouncement on the death of the godfather of all modern terror – whom Chriac praised in death as a man of “courage and conviction” – was that he was all choked up and could barely speak.

“It is with emotion that I have learned of the death of President Yasir Arafat.” Of course, one wonders if Chirac was incapacitated by his devastation at Arafat’s death or from ordering his troops to fire on innocent civilians in the Ivory Coast this week after unilaterally deciding, without any UN approval, to destroy the tiny country’s air force. But then, the French were the ones who decided to collaborate with Hitler in deporting their Jews to concentration camps, so not too much decency should be expected from that quarter either.

Of course, the United States continues to be embarrassed by Jimmy Carter, a man who has devoted his entire career to protecting tyrants, from Kim Il Sung and Kim Jon Il of North Korea, to Fidel Castro of Cuba. The great humanitarian Carter extended his infinite affection to Arafat at his demise by saying that Arafat had provided “indispensable leadership to a revolutionary movement” and has been “a powerful human symbol and forceful advocate” who united Palestinians in their pursuit of a homeland.

I would reserve comment on Carter’s silly statement other than to acknowledge how most decent Americans regard the hapless Carter as a repellant buffoon whom they would rather forget once served as their president.

It is time that the world recognized these three despicable men – Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac and Jimmy Carter – as constituting a western “Axis of Evil,” leaders whose long careers have been devoted to apologizing for tyrants, propping up dictators, demonstrating contempt for their victims and, above all else, espousing an irrational hatred of Israel that would normally be called anti-Semitism.

But the most painful and disgraceful reaction of all to Arafat’s death, from the quarter where it was least expected, came from Pope John Paul II’s jaw-dropping comments voiced through his mouthpiece, Joaquin Navarro-Valls: “At this hour of sadness at the passing of President Yasir Arafat, His Holiness Pope John Paul is particularly close to the deceased’s family, the authorities and the Palestinian people. While entrusting his soul into the hands of the Almighty and Merciful God, the Holy Father prays to the Prince of Peace that the star of harmony will soon shine on the Holy Land. …?

In a second statement, Navarro-Valls said in the pope’s name that Arafat was “a leader of great charisma who loved his people and sought to lead them towards national independence. May God welcome in His mercy the soul of the illustrious deceased and give peace to the Holy Land. …”

That the world’s foremost spiritual shepherd could describe himself as being close to Arafat’s family, rather than the thousands of murdered men, women and children who were Arafat’s victims, is an astonishing act of sacrilege. That the most influential religious figure alive could describe the death of a tyrant as “an hour of sadness” and call a mass murderer an “illustrious” soul is positively despicable. That the “Vicar of Christ on earth” could say of a man who stole billions from his impoverished and desperate nation that he “loved his people” is an affront to everything Jesus stood for, which was primarily a dedication to the oppressed, the poor and the persecuted.

In making these damnable statements, Pope John Paul II, whom I otherwise greatly admire, has tragically proven himself to be walking in the sinful line of his immoral and cowardly Nazi-collaborator predecessor, Pius XII, a man who demonstrated an almost callous indifference to the value of human life and never once summoned the courage to condemn the Nazi Holocaust.

Like John Paul, who met Arafat on numerous occasions, Pius in 1943 granted a secret audience to Supreme SS Polizeifuhrer Wolff, who had served Himmler as chief of staff and was then serving as the chief of the entire persecution apparatus of Jews and Romans in occupied Italy. That Pius realized he was doing something that others would regard as scandalous and immoral is attested to the fact that the meeting took place in great confidence, and Wolff came dressed in disguise. Years later, Wolff had this to say about the meeting: “From the pope’s own words I could sense the sincerity of his sympathy and how much he loved the German people.” On Oct. 16, 1943, the pope watched, quite literally, just 300 feet from his office window, as the SS rounded up more than one thousand Jews of Rome, nearly all of whom would perish by gas a few days later at Auschwitz.

John Paul II is now considering beatifying Pius XII, an action that would forever stain the church and be a sin against humanity. That is troubling enough. But to actually walk in Pius’s path by associating oneself with murderers is positively abhorrent. I have long loved this pope for his devotion to the poor of the Third World. Why would he suddenly turn on all those who have been blown to pieces by Arafat’s bombers over a 40-year career?

How ironic that only one world leader showed true morality and grit in condemning Arafat for what he was, and that man is not a priest or religious leader, but the Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who savaged Arafat as a man whom “history will judge very harshly.

How ironic that the pope should have to learn his morality from Down Under.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is a nationally syndicated radio host daily from 2-5 p.m. EST on the Liberty Broadcasting Network, and was named by Talkers magazine as one of America’s 100 most important talk-radio hosts. A best-selling author of 14 books, his latest work is “The Private Adam: Becoming a Hero in a Selfish Age” (HarperCollins).

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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