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May 30, 2015 / 12 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Pope Francis’

The Palestinians, the Pope and Peace

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

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.

A Call to the Nations of the World and All Religious Leaders

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

On the occasion of the papal visit to Israel, Rabbi Ginsburgh re-released the following statement (first issued prior to Pope John Paul II’s visit to Israel in March of 2000).

We all believe that Divine Providence directs every detail of each and every one of our lives. (Here is not the place to discuss how this does not contradict the principle of free choice inherent to the human soul.) Even when a person chooses to follow a certain course of action for his own reasons, it is G-d that is directing his steps from on high for His own purposes. In most cases, this direction remains entirely hidden from man. In the words of King David, the Sweet Singer of Israel, “Man’s steps are established by G-d, and He desires his path” (Psalms 37:23).

True for every detail of every private person’s life, this becomes immensely more significant for those whose lives have proven to be of crucial influence on the overall history of mankind. Here, too, there is both the individual’s revealed, conscious intention and the hidden dimension, which is revealed only to G-d, as He wondrously directs the fate of the world that He created for His glory.

Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Kings, chapter 11) writes that Jesus of Nazareth imagined that he was the messiah. He tried to actualize this, but failed. Instead of redeeming Israel and the entire world, he caused Israel to be slain by the sword, their remnant to be scattered and humiliated, the Torah to be altered, and the majority of the world to be deceived and serve a god other than G-d.

Maimonides continues:

Nevertheless, the intent of the Creator of the world is not within the power of man to comprehend, for [to paraphrase Isaiah 55:8] His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts. [Ultimately,] all the deeds of Jesus of Nazareth and that Ishmaelite who arose after him [i.e. Mohammed] will only serve to pave the way for the coming of the Messiah and for the improvement of the entire world, [motivating the nations] to serve G-d together, as it is written [Zephaniah 3:9], “For I shall then make the peoples pure of speech so that they will all call upon the Name of G-d and serve Him with one purpose.”

How will this come about? [As a result of these religions,] the entire world has already become filled with talk of the Messiah, as well as of the Torah and the commandments. These matters have been spread among many [formerly] spiritually insensitive nations, who discuss these matters as well as the various commandments of the Torah. Some of them [i.e. the Christians] say: These commandments were true, but are not in force in the present age; they are not applicable for all time. Others [i.e. the Moslems] say: Implied in the commandments are hidden concepts that cannot be understood simply; the messiah has already come and revealed them.

[The stage is thus set so that] when the true Messianic king will arise and prove successful, his [position becoming] exalted and uplifted, they will all return and realize that their ancestors endowed them with a false heritage; their prophets and ancestors caused them to err. Let us look at the situation of the world today: Nearly two thousand years have passed since the establishment of the Christian religion. During these generations, the suffering and pain of millions of people have not abated despite the great strides made by civilization, especially in the fields of science and technology. Every passing day, the heartfelt cry for G-d’s salvation intensifies, the cry for the true and ultimate Redemption to be ushered in by the Messiah. In the words of the prophet Daniel (who according to the Sages of Israel was a clear messianic figure): “How long until the end of these awesome things!” (Daniel 12:6).

Churches Ignore Pope’s Request, Opt for Political Props to Meet Pope

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

From the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem site:

An interview with Bishop William Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem, about the families who will have lunch with Pope Francis in Bethlehem after Mass in Manger Square.

1 – Why did the Pope choose to lunch with Christian families? What is his reason for doing so? Pope Francis wants to spend a little time with the poor families in the Bethlehem and their children to listen to them, permitting them to feel his closeness and tenderness. He did not want to have lunch with the cardinals, bishops and politicians, but with poor families. It took time to understand the reasons for this gesture. It really makes the Pope admired: how Jesus wants to stay close to the poor.

2 – How were the families chosen who will share the meal? The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, which oversaw the organization of the entire trip of the Holy Father appointed a committee for the task of choosing. The Committee established criteria for identifying “categories” of poverty. Each family was then selected to represent a certain category of need. The poor who have no daily bread or living on the street have not been selected.

Oh, okay. The pope asks to have lunch with the poor and the committee deliberately excludes the truly poor. So who do they choose instead?

Our poor are those who suffer for humanitarian reasons, political and social. We contacted the parishes and consulted many people. Many lay people offered us names. We discussed together and finally arrived at a final list. Many would have liked to be selected, but it was not possible to please everyone. It was a tough choice!

3 – Can you give us some examples of families that you have chosen? A family from Ikrit, a village in northern Galilee that was evacuated and razed in 1948 by the Israeli Army. Only the church was spared. Although there have been court decisions, Christian Arab inhabitants were never able to return to their village.

Another family from the group of 58 families who have land in Cremisan area of Beit Jala. According to the planned route of the separation wall built by Israel, the land will be on the other side of the wall and therefore inaccessible for the owners. There are ongoing negotiations with the legal authorities that we hope will have a positive outcome.

Also a family that represents those who struggle for a family reunion. One spouse living in Jerusalem, the other in the territories. Under Israeli law, it is difficult for the Palestinian spouse to obtain a permit for permanent residence in Jerusalem.

Another family has a son sentenced to life imprisonment, another a son exiled to Gaza for political reasons. Another one comes from the Gaza Strip, which is a big prison. These are the families selected for this occasion.

5 – Pope Francis, where he visits, always wants to share a meal with simple people, the poor and marginalized. What are the lessons for the Church in Jerusalem? This is a lesson for us bishops and priests. We need to get closer to the suffering people of God, and not live isolated in our homes. The Pope says we are always to go out, to go to the others, to go in search of the sheep and not wait until the sheep seeks the shepherd. This is a great example for us. The Pope will not see all the misery of the Holy Land. He only meets five families, and giving us a good boost, it inspires us to continue our mission.

Gee, what mission is that? Ignoring the homeless? The pope asks for poor families to have lunch with, and the church leaders ignore his request and instead choose families that they can use as props to slam Jewish Israelis!

No Sovereignty Grab by Vatican at King David’s Tomb For Now

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

The Vatican has confirmed it has no plans to attempt a sovereignty grab at King David’s tomb, at least at this point.

In an interview posted this week on the Vatican Insider website, Jerusalem-based Bishop William Shomali confirmed that Pope Francis is going to celebrate Mass in the Cenacle – the upper room which is considered holy to Christians because they believe it is the place where Christianity’s founder, Jesus, celebrated the Last Supper.

A niche on the lower level of the same building is alleged to be the burial site of the Biblical King David, marked by a large cenotaph-sarcophagus set up by 12th century Crusaders. However, most scholars consider this attribution to be incorrect; in Kings I 2:10[13] the burial site of the ancient Biblical king is said to be “in the City of David”, identified as the eastern hill of ancient Jerusalem, rather than in what is today called Mount Tzion, the western hill of the ancient Old City of Jerusalem.

The site is one of many located in the area claimed by the Palestinian Authority for its hoped-for independent Arab state within Israel’s borders. The PA has insisted in talks that Israel hand over all of the areas of Jerusalem restored in the 1967 Six Day War — including all Jewish holy sites — so it can establish a new capital city there. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has also said repeatedly that he will never allow any Jew to set foot on “Palestinian land” once borders for a new PA state are established.

Shomali, who was born in the PA and is auxiliary-bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, confirmed the Pope is expected to celebrate Mass in the room. However, he firmly denied the Holy See had any intention of attempting to take control of the site from Israel.

“There is some opposition (to celebration of Mass at the site) but it is coming mainly from ultra-Orthodox Jews who have misunderstood the event,” he told Vatican Insider. “They thought the Pope is coming to receive sovereignty over the Cenacle. This is not true! The Pope and the Vatican do not want sovereignty; they only want more use of the place in the early hours of the morning for masses and for prayer,” Shomali explained.

All of the tickets for the visit of the Pope to Bethlehem and for the Mass there are exhausted, he added, noting that 10,000 were distributed and that many asked for more. “This is different from the two previous papal masses in Bethlehem, when John Paul II and Benedict XVI came,” he said. “It means that this Pope attracts crowds.”

Israeli security is expected to be extremely tight and for the two days the Pope will be in the country, travel within Jerusalem and surrounds will be difficult.

PA Hoping to Use Pope As Political Pipebomb

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

The Palestinian Authority is hoping to use the upcoming visit by Pope Francis as a political pipebomb with which to further attack an already-dead peace process.

The itinerary of the Holy See is set to begin in Amman, where the Pope will meet with King Abdullah II. From there the leader of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church will fly to the Holy Land on Sunday for a two-day visit that starts in Bethlehem — a logical choice given its proximity to Jordan and its importance in Christianity.

He will hold a mass there, meet there with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and later visit a “refugee camp,” allegedly to “underscore his support for the Palestinians,” according to PA Christian Affairs adviser Ziyad Bandak, who was quoted by Arutz Sheva.

Bandak said through that visit, the Pope will ‘see firsthand the “suffering of the Palestinian Arabs under the Israeli occupation…’

“This visit will help us in supporting our struggle to end the longest occupation in history,” he reportedly said. “I know that Israeli officials are not happy with this decision. We welcome this visit and consider it as support for the Palestinian people and confirmation from the Vatican of the need to end the occupation.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson told CBN News, however, the Pope is “coming here to spend time with everybody,” noting the convenience of the scheduled itinerary.

The Pope and his entourage are also expected to meet with Israeli leaders and to discuss the status of Jerusalem. The agenda is likely to include the extremely controversial issue of who will have authority over the area that houses King David’s tomb.

“He’s coming here to see us. He’s coming on a Christian pilgrimage… With all due respect to everybody’s inflated egos with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this is not the focus of his visit. It’s a wonderful thing that he’s coming to visit. Hundreds of foreign journalists and thousands of Christian pilgrims are looking forward to his visit. We don’t always have to exploit every single thing.”

The fact is, fully 60 percent of all incoming visitors to Israel at present are Christian.

And most of the Christian Arabs in Bethlehem have been viciously harassed by that city’s Muslims. Many have fled as a result. So if anything, the Pope is beginning his visit there as a gesture of solidarity to his people in that city, who desperately need his support.

Moreover, if we’re talking about the “longest occupation in history,” we may as well go back 2,000-plus years. Let’s discuss the expulsion of most of the Jews from this Land by the Romans and the subsequent occupations by our Gentile enemies, one after the other, including the rivers of Jewish blood that ran in our streets.

That history is all written down for anyone to see – and there remain at least several descendants of Jewish families in the Galilee village of Peki’in who can trace their lineage all the way back to those times. Not to mention the Yemenite Kohanim and Levi’im (members of the priestly sect), many of whom can also trace their lineage back to the time their ancestors were forced to leave, during the period when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem still stood.

But just as the Jews lost that ancient war, so too were we promised by the Creator that eventually we would return to our Land. Every monotheistic faith knows of that promise, and has read it in what the Christians refer to as the “Old Testament:”

Deuteronomy 30:1 –And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you shall call them to mind among all the nations, to which the L-rd your G-d has driven you, :2 –And shall return unto the L-rd your G-d, and shall obey His voice according to all that I command you this day, you and you children, with all your heart, and with all your soul; :3 –That then the L-rd your G-d will turn your captivity, and have compassion upon you, and will return and gather you from all the nations, from where the L-rd your God has scattered you. :4 –If any of yours are driven out upon the outmost parts of heaven, from there will the L-rd your G-d gather you, and from then will He fetch you: :5And the L-rd your G-d will bring you into the Land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will do you good, and multiply you above your fathers.

El Al Plan Will Carry Vatican Logo for Pope’s Return Trip

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

The familiar symbol of the Israeli flag that adorns El Al airplanes will be accompanied the logo of the Vatican when the airline brings Pope Francis back from Israel to the Vatican after his visit in May.

A specially selected crew will man the plane, which will carry the pope, 30 church officials and dozens of journalists, Globes reported.

Incoming El Al CEO David Maimon said, “El Al is proud to have been chosen to provide its services for the pope and his delegation on his historic visit to Israel, and will provide the delegation a special flight at the end of the visit. We will meet all the needs of pilgrims who will accompany the Papal visit to Israel, including special aircrews for the flight.”

The pope will visit Israel at the end of his Middle East tour that will begin in Jordan and continue in Bethlehem and then Jerusalem.

Pope Francis Cancels Israel Trip

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Pope Francis has been forced to cancel his planned trip to Israel in May due to a labor dispute within the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The Pope, who has garnered considerable acclaim from Jewish leaders for his push for stronger Jewish-Christian relations, announced the trip to Israel and Jordan in January. The visit was scheduled to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s visit in 1964.

Due to the Pope’s busy schedule, the visit was canceled and not rescheduled.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was scheduled to address the Israeli Knesset on March 12, was also forced to reschedule his visit due to the labor dispute. Cameron also had to cancel an earlier trip to Israel due to massive flooding in the U.K. in February.

The labor dispute may also force President Shimon Peres to cancel a scheduled trip to China in April.

The Foreign Ministry’s Workers Union is pushing for higher wages and better working conditions for diplomats serving abroad.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/pope-francis-cancels-israel-trip/2014/03/07/

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